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Small Businesses vs Covid-19. What Has 2020 Really Taught ME?

We are still a weeks until the end of 2020 but on reflection and based on my emotion, I only feel it is right to start to reflect back on the year in which is my first year of business. On a normal year, maybe we would think about our outstanding achievement or our own small business wins, how our businesses have gone from strength to strength, offers we couldn't turn down or opportunities we had to invest our ideas in too. In reality, 2020 has thrown us into the middle of the sea with no life float or anyway back to land, with our own guidance helping us to stop drowning, from the financial problems that arise, our ideas left behind from a lack of productivity and our whole industry being left to sink to the great depths. Time after time weddings cancelled, numbers dropped, leaving brides and grooms getting ready for their wedding day to be told by noon it will no longer go ahead.

Now, I always see myself as a glass half full kind of girl, but sometimes life does through us lemons and we have to mix it with a strong gin and tonic. But seriously, what has living within in a global pandemic whilst starting up a business within a strongly effected industry taught me?

Brand Who You Want To Be.

Branding is one of the most fundamental parts to selling your business to your dream client. No matter who you are trying to appeal to within your specialism, your logo, fonts and colours will speak a thousand words. Professionalism is so important, not only making sure your logo is on point, with a little hint of you, but also making sure the end user would be fabulously attracted to your branding too. When I started my business, I had no set structure as such, no plan and no idea where it would take me. I started out with a small idea which I loved to do, which has stemmed to grow into the Ivy Alice Stationery brand. Looking back I never really expected my business to grow in such a short space of time. My brand needed to reflect me and what I wanted to achieve with strategic business mindset. I went back to the very basics and thought about who I am as a person and what attracts me. I love plain and simple, it looks effortlessly classy and also a great way to be easily recognisable.

I re-created my logo with a two tone colour palette, not only is this super stylish and on par with the luxury service I wish to provide to my clients, it is super easy for print runs. The grey and white colour palette matches beautifully lots of trends, so when setting up at wedding fayres, I do not look out of place. As you may have seen my logo, I opted for a small leaf and also just a business name. It is so easy to use across all branding from printed materials through to digital marketing pieces, which is super important with offering both a service and a final product.

Let's talk logos. There is nothing worse to any brand than an amazing product/service, fantastic customer service and appealing prices to use pixelated logos/imagery throughout websites and social media, this can be off putting to clients as it can look rushed and unfinished. By hiring professional design consultant they are able to advise you on colour palettes, fonts and also licensing on these items. Designers will also will work wonders for your brand as you will be able to give you different file types for different logo projects including transparent backgrounds and also all one tone logos for if you wish to buy branded products more affordably.

Advice tip: if you are looking to rebrand, spend time looking into who you wish to appeal to, who is your ideal client type and what would they like to see. Focus your brand around them, to truly be able to appeal to your target market. Always inject a little bit of you into your brand. Research into other brands. Some of the worlds most iconic brands have the most simplistic of designs but are forward thinkers in their industry specialism, think Gucci, YSL, Uber, Kuoni, Jimmy Choo, etc.

Social Media Conquers All

No matter which direction we wish to travel in any industry, whether you wish to market your business/products through word of mouth, reviews, PPC campaigns, print run advertising, we are now forced into a world which is predominantly online. Social media is our friend, treat it kindly and nurture it - you will reap rewards.

During lockdown, I sat down and started to strategically plan my social media content. I planned what would be sent out on what day, following what imagery to use. I try and stick to content which is on trend for the specific season so it is not outdated and it also will gather touch points of potential clients. By showing off the work I have crated in the best possible photographs taken professional, this helps to show clients my dedication and creativity into my work.

I found my social media account was easily reaching across the UK, with my client base growing in London and Wales on a very limited budget, I was reaching my perfect client through the power of social media! It is so important for me to reach out to my ideal client couple and encourage engagement and to have a following of people who want to see my work. Having a bunch of ghost followers/follow for follows is not going to increase engagement, treat any algorithm or generate your sales, it will actually cut down the restrictions on who will see your profile organically. Simply sticking to a simple strategic plan, your followers will increase by people who are inspired by your work or want to purchase from you in the future.

Stick to using professional imagery where you can, as a good photo goes a hell of a long way. Imagery is so eye-catching, rather than plain copy, so showcase your stunning products with minimal text to generate enquiries to conversions. Tagging in your fellow photographers is a fabulous way to not only say thank to them for their amazing work, but also show clients the level of the other creatives you work alongside, to show you really set the bar high.

Advice tip: if you haven't already, swap your instagram account to business, so you are able to track & see how well your posts are doing. You will be able to narrow down specific, key times where you engage most with your target market. I always tend to post at the same time each day (after 9pm) as I find it reaches my ideal client at the most appropriate time for the most engagement.

Don't be too hard on yourself

Maybe you logged onto your email at 10.30am this morning or you decided to take a much needed day of rest off - don't be hard on yourself. Strong work and passion conveyed into any specialism within the wedding industry is tough and sometimes you need to reward yourself with time to recuperate. There is nothing worse than a burnout, where you push yourself too much to then becoming tired and unproductive. I have done this so many times. Not only is it super unhealthy, it is not balanced in any way, shape or form.

I changed my mindset on many aspects, such as unrealistic deadlines which I set myself, telling myself I wasn't doing enough and trying to force creativity. With the global pandemic, orders were limited, so I pushed myself in to other projects, trying to compensate for something I may not have been doing. Looking back, this wasn't the right thing to do as in the long run, I became less productive. When I changed my mindset I focused on prioritising my to do list, what really needed to be done and what projects could wait. I took time to with my family and ensuring I had early evenings to make sure I was set for the next day. Long refreshing walks listening to my favourite ever podcast (The Mindful Kind) worked so well for me too, which really stopped me from being so hard on myself. Rome wasn't built in a day, and if I constantly have a 'to-do list' then, I am doing something right. The same goes for you, if something isn't done, don't beat yourself up about it - you are doing your best and doing incredible at it too.

Advice tip: take a step back and see how far you have come, whether you decide to set yourself short term or long term goals, anything is great. Whether your goal was to simply schedule your social media for the week or finally do those updates on your computer, it all counts. You are super, it's the small business wins!

Make Industry Friends

The last but most important part of building a business during a global pandemic is building relationships within any industry. This has been a huge part to the direction of my business and personal growth this year, being able to have lovely people to turn to when I needed someone to talk to, someone to laugh with and someone who just gets it. Having a support group full of amazing people who are in the same industry or specialism as yourself, works wonders and makes building your business a lot less like a one man band, for sure it might only be you, but now you have someone to help hold your hand and offer support.

It can be slightly daunting speaking and meeting new people, but fear not! It is so easy to meet new people to call your 'industry people'. I created a lot of new friendships in the industry through styled photoshoots, wedding fayres, social media and also networking groups. I joined Unveiled as a founding member, which was the biggest door opener for me, as it opened up a new world and helped me access some of the most talented professionals within wedding & events. This enabled me to not only meet great friends, who we all offer support and advice among, but to also spread the love of recommendations and fabulous ideas too.

Advice tip: be you and people will love you for it. Finding friendships within the realm of self-employment may sound daunting, but it will be the best thing you will ever do. It is like your own cool club where you all can spread creativity around!

However this year may have been for you, do not give up hope on your business. Love is love, couples will always marry, so hold tight, enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy it may get - you will come out the other end stronger than ever.

Love from,

Yasmin, a seriously ready for 2021 Wedding Stationer - November 2020


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