As of March 2020, my business lost ¼ million pounds in confirmed sales in three weeks.
2020 was meant to be the breakthrough year. My company was in the midst of consolidating the great work we had already been doing with some of our greatest supporters – Facebook, the office group, Apple, the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, and more.
Whenever I had read about the coronavirus. it was always something I saw in passing, or something which affected someone else. But as the reality of the coronavirus dawned on my company in March, I knew we were in deep trouble.
Dealing with loss
As a bootstrapped business, we never could have seen such a drastic change coming our way. To this day, I still find myself reflecting – can we really anticipate loss? Is it possible to ward off every sign of danger? Could I have handled this any better?
The first few weeks were intense and scary. I was forced to engage in transparent conversations with debtors and lenders. I had to create a new business model without knowing when – or if – business would return to ‘normal’. I initiated check-ins on my team to find out how they had been affected, and figure out ways we could quickly recuperate.
I also spent a great deal of time in self-reflection, and the stories I share with you is part of that ongoing process of self-reflection, learning and resource sharing to everyone experiencing similar setbacks.
Gaining back my world
Through the ongoing journey of self-reflection, I gained time to find a way to continue being productive and adding value through servitude.
I set up a non profit called A Plate for London with my friends Dominic Cools-Lartigue and Laura-Jo Pearce to tackle food poverty in East London. As much as it was painful to dwell on my personal losses, it’s crucial that at times like this we remember those hardest hit by the pandemic. Those on the cusp of poverty are the real victims – they don’t have five weeks to wait to claim Universal Credit, or access government funding. Our communities are only as strong as the support given to the most vulnerable.
Within the last two weeks, A Plate for London raised £25,000 in donations and fed over 10,000 people. Being able to use my skills and extra time to provide service was rewarding, and being a changemaker in my own community was a powerful reminder of my purpose.
I gained more time to spend with my team. We hashed out innovative ways to engage with communities, new and old. We played around and experimented with different digital revenue opportunities. Most of all, we came together and recalibrated on the vision behind why we do what we do – to serve others.
Nothing happens overnight, but I’m a big dreamer. The dream I have is to find effective ways to turn our training sessions into something that can be consumed by hard to reach audiences. Last year, we trained 5,000 in digital skills and entrepreneurship. This year, we want to achieve this impact at scale.
A shared story
My journey affects you as much as it does me.
Many of us are truly navigating unprecedented times. Industries and entire communities are struggling. Businesses are collapsing. Individuals are finding it difficult to just get through the days. Although I anticipate the return of the world of training, content and live events will return, the way that people operate in the markets has been changed forever. I’ve had the privilege of engaging in multiple webinars and virtual events hosted by various members of my network, prying apart these relevant questions.
My loss does not define my entire entrepreneurial journey – my capacity to serve others will always remain at the heart of everything I do. It’s important that we figure out how we can use our circumstances to fulfil purpose, provide value, and solve complex social problems. The tide has changed, but we’re still very much at sea.
I’ve been an entrepreneur for 10 years. I’ve seen the highs and lows of 6 businesses. What is clear to me at this present moment, is the importance of purpose – now more than ever before.
I lost a great amount of capital but gained back my world – my purpose.
Want to find out more from other entrepreneurs about the challenges they’re facing and how they’re overcoming these issues? I am sharing this all in my first webinar – Announcing on my next newsletter
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