Together we make an impact

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As we are nearing the end of the challenging year of 2020, we are taking a look back at the positive ways the Faculty of Business and Law have made an impact on society. Below is a round-up of some of the top stories, successes and impactful research that has been achieved by the faculty.

Inside the black box: the public finances after coronavirus

Bristol Business School economist and Associate Professor Dr Jo Michell, alongside a colleague from the University of Greenwich, conducted a study acknowledging that the UK can afford to keep fighting Covid-19 crisis and have created an interactive tool to model the likely economic scenarios from COVID-19.

Business Schools for Good

The Chartered Association for Business Schools have launched a series entitled ‘Business Schools for Good’. It features Bristol Business School’s collaboration with Bristol City Robins Foundation. Students on the programme, Sports Business and Entrepreneurship, talk about the course and the sense of community they gain from undertaking IT. It is a great example of the work we do with a key faculty partner.

Business successes

A group of 40 entrepreneurs that we trained through our partnership with ChangeSchool and Mowgli Mentoring in February 2020, have gone on to secure £2.4m in sales and funding and are now seeing their businesses go from strength to strength.

AI software could help construction industry achieve net zero target

Bristol Business School’s Big Data Laboratory is leading an £800,00 project to develop software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help construction companies reduce the amount of embodied carbon in their building and infrastructure projects. It is a two-year project and is in collaboration with Winvic Construction, Castain and start-up company Edgetrix.

CIMA award wins

The department of Accounting, Economics and Finance have won two Charted Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Excellence awards; the CIMA Prize-Winner Excellence award and the CIMA Global Excellence award. These awards celebrate university partners with outstanding students, pass rate and excellence in the CIMA exams and the highest number of CIMA students on campus.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bristol Leadership and Change Centre’s Professor Peter Case has secured a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist the Ministry of Health & Child Care in Zimbabwe to improve HIV prevention. The project is in collaboration with the Malaria Elimination Initiative at the University of California and will run until December 2022. The overall aim is to integrate prevention services and move them forward in a more sustainable way. Further details of the project are available on UWE Bristol Leadership & Change Centre blog.

SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2020

Dr Jenna Pandeli won the SAGE Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2020 for her co-authored paper ‘ Captive Cycles of Invisibility? Prisoners’ Work for the Private Sector.’ The article critiques a case of modern prison-labour by exploring prisoners’ attitudes towards the prison-work they undertake while incarcerated and received the award due to its innovation – excellence in the field.

Systems Leadership Development in Public Health

Professor Richard Bolden and Professor Carol Jarvis (alongside an interdisciplinary team) conducted a review of systems leadership development in public health. The aim of the project, which was funded by Public Health England, was to inform the development of public health registrars and consultants in the UK. The insights support the capacity of public health leaders to respond to public health crises such as Covid-19.

Faculty Professional Service Team

The Professional Service Team in the faculty is a small but close group who have not only been incredibly flexible in taking on different duties this year but also genuinely look out and support one another and the Faculty community. We are so proud of this team and all they have achieved this year. We couldn’t do it without you!

Post-Occupancy Research Report

Dr Harriet Shortt, Dr Svetlana Cicmil and Dr Hugo Gaggiotti published their Post-Occupancy Research on Bristol Business School. The report captures how users feel about the building and how it used, all through one of the largest qualitative visual field studies in the field of Organisational Studies. The project was funded by Stride Treglown and ISG.

Combating Malaria in Namibia

Professor Peter Case’s research focus has expanded to Namibia during 2020. Three recent Zimbabwean graduates from our Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership programme have worked on the project with Namibia’s Vector-borne Diseases Control Programme to combat malaria by improving frontline prevention and treatment of the disease in Kavango Province.

Criminal Justice Natters

Dr Ed Johnson from Bristol Law School has a podcast series called Criminal Justice Natters. His research interests centre on criminal justice and procedure; in particular, he has an interest in the law of disclosure, fair trial rights and adversarialism. In the series, he talks to people such as Chris Daw Q.C. about his bestselling book Justice on Trial and Liam Allan, who was wrongly arrested 2016.

Virtual Christmas Tree fundraiser

During December we have been fundraising for Shelter with our BBS | BLS virtual Christmas tree. You can see the running total and donate here and write a message on our tree here.

BBS | BLS Virtual Christmas Fair

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Welcome to the Bristol Business School | Bristol Law School Christmas fair. This year we have had to take our usual Christmas fair held in the Bristol Business School Atrium online. But don’t worry, we still have a fantastic range of products on offer with representation from UWE Bristol students, staff and businesses in the local community.

All you need to do now is click the link below to view the stalls and links to shop, or download the PDF and get browsing! We hope you enjoy.

If you have any questions please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this year’s virtual fair.

My study abroad story

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By Megan Gosling, Business Management with Marketing student at UWE Bristol.

As part of my degree, I made the decision to take a study year abroad rather than a work placement and this is certainly a decision I don’t regret. Surprisingly, I got accepted to my first choice which was the Berlin School of Economics and Law. Looking back after such a turbulent year it’s hard to remember how it felt to arrive in a new city all by myself but I definitely had some experiences that will stay with me for a very long time.

Arriving for the induction day felt like starting 1st year all over again crossed with being on holiday and I was meeting people from all over the world which was exciting and truly one of the most unique days of my life. Following this came many welcome activities organised by the University and these were the perfect way to get to know other students and the city; things such as brewery tours, football games, bar crawls and history tours. If you like beer and modern history I really recommend considering Berlin, not to mention the nightlife which really was beyond anything I have seen before. The clubs were open all night and in some cases, all weekend. There was so much vibrance and edge to the city as well as expansive forests and lakes and to be able to see it all with such ease and cheap accessibility and to call it home was one of my favourite bits.

Of course, as cliché as it sounds, the most special experience for me was the people that I met in Berlin. I really made some friends for life, no matter how far apart we are. With these people I had the opportunity to explore other parts of Germany and Europe. I visited the Christmas Market in Leipzig, the beautiful city of Krakow, the sketchy neighbourhoods of Hamburg and more. Of course certain events thwarted my plans for more travel, but this didn’t stop me having an unforgettable year.

Naturally, it’s not all fun and games and there is a lot of administrative work that goes into a study year abroad both before and after you arrive; especially in Europe and even more especially in Germany. In fact, the bureaucracy was probably the biggest culture shock for me at the beginning. However, as long as you remember to get the right people to sign the right documents, both UWE and your host institution will handle the rest.

Although the study year abroad is all about you discovering things for yourself, there are definitely three tips that I would give to those considering making the move; things that certainly would have made my life easier at the beginning too. The first surrounds accommodation. This will vary country to country but if you’re not going to get accommodation through your university, find alternatives well in advance. Whether this is private student accommodation, private rentals or finding housemates, it’s really best to do your research a few months before you move so you have something solid when you arrive.

The first few days are stressful enough as you find your feet at university and it will make your life so much easier if you don’t have to move from Airbnb to Airbnb with all of your possessions. My second tip would be to take full advantage of your location if you can. I can only speak about Europe but there’s so many buses and trains to take for very reasonable prices. Of course it is important to attend university and to complete your SYA project as this will really help you for final year, but also don’t miss opportunities to see more of the world around you while you are there.

My final and most important tip would be, don’t be afraid to be the first to speak to people. This can be daunting if you’re not naturally extroverted. You may feel like everyone else knows each other but in reality, most people around you will be in the same boat. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people and ask them if they want to explore the city or have pre-drinks etc. I know I found it quite difficult initially moving from a city where I had a strong group of friends to a place far away where I really knew no one. Had I had more confidence at the beginning I think it would have really prevented some of my early struggles and enriched my experience. So, don’t be shy, and you’ll meet some great people.

Not only did I have an amazing year learning and exploring, but I continue to feel the benefits that the study year abroad has brought to my life. Firstly, my confidence has grown immeasurably. Throughout the year I found myself being pushed out of my comfort zone quite a lot but in such a positive way and now I feel like nothing scares me anymore, especially when it comes to giving presentations and talking to strangers. As well as confidence, my independence and perseverance have really grown. Going from living with my parents to then moving to university I feel like I always had my hand held, however moving into a place on my own in a country with a different language (which I couldn’t really speak) forced me to figure things out for myself, make more of my own decisions and just have much more responsibility for myself, which I know I’ll need when I graduate.

Furthermore, from living in such an international environment and having the opportunity to study courses such as intercultural communications I feel like my eyes have really been opened to the world and the people around me. I have so much more knowledge about and understanding for others from all walks of life. Although a study year abroad isn’t “work experience” I wouldn’t let that put you off.

Confidence, perseverance and cultural competence and understanding are some of the most important skills you can acquire both for life and career-wise and I certainly don’t think I would have gained these had I not taken this opportunity. I wouldn’t change my experience for the world and I can only recommend this adventure.

To find out more about studying abroad with UWE Bristol, visit our website.

Team Entrepreneurship students tackle Global Business Challenges

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A group of 13 students on the BA (Business) Team Entrepreneurship programme at Bristol Business School have been selected to take part in the Global Business Challenge, a three-month experiential learning opportunity focused on solving real challenges for real businesses. Throughout the three-month programme, students will be working in cross-cultural teams with fellow entrepreneurial students from four different countries – the UK, Ecuador, the USA and Finland.

The Global Business Challenge has been co-created by six universities: UWE Team Academy, Aston Team Academy and Team Entrepreneurship at Bishop Grosseteste University in the UK; the University of Holy Spirit Specialties in Ecuador; Southern New Hampshire University in the United States and Proakatemia within Tampere University of Applied Sciences in Finland, the birthplace of the Team Academy methodology on which UWE Bristol’s Team Entrepreneurship programme is based.

Staff from across the six universities, which include Team Coaches and other academic staff specialising in entrepreneurship, have collaborated to provide a unique learning opportunity for their students, adopting the self-directed, team-based, experiential learning approach that is core to Team Academy degree programmes. Staff are supporting the learning of their students by taking on the role of Team Coach for one of the 10 cross-cultural teams that have been created.

The student teams meet virtually on a weekly basis to collectively ideate and problem solve around a specific business challenge from one of the five international businesses that are partners for the Global Business Challenge: the UK’s team profile company Belbin, First Republic Bank from the USA, business incubator ASAP Business in Ecuador, Canadian organic production supplier Organic4Greens and global translation and localisation specialists Lionbridge.

At the end of the programme the teams will present their solutions to their partner business, receiving invaluable feedback from the business professionals and identifying future opportunities to continue working together. The Global Business Challenge offers UWE Team Entrepreneurship students a unique opportunity to form meaningful connections with fellow students and business professionals on a global scale. This is the first international collaborative business challenge of this kind that has been established between the partner universities and the team of staff behind the programme are hosting regular virtual meetings to discuss further opportunities.

Within UWE Team Academy, the Global Business Challenge has been supported by Team Coaches Lauren Davies and Valtteri Melkko who are each coaching an international team, in addition to continuing to coach their own Team Company within the UWE Team Entrepreneurship programme. The Global Business Challenge is one of the many opportunities for UWE Team Entrepreneurship students to “learn by doing” and Valtteri and Lauren have been encouraging students to grasp this and the many other opportunities offered by the programme and beyond. Valtteri commented:

“It’s amazing to see how much growth and excitement it’s possible to see in our students when they are put to work in an international team in a challenge that is longer than a few days or weeks – they are full of energy.”

Valtteri Melkko

Reflecting on her experience of the Global Business Challenge so far, second-year Team Entrepreneurship student Natalie English said:

“Being part of the Global Business Challenge has allowed me to explore a new international team environment, a business challenge and working in an online space – all in one. Obviously, this hasn’t come without challenges, but having a coach means we are able to talk about these challenges in a safe environment. However, the most exciting elements for me so far have been putting my UWE course into practice and getting to see how those techniques are invaluable in any teamwork environment. Working with a real business, with a real challenge has opened my eyes to all the possibilities there are out there, as well as getting to network internationally!”

Natalie English

Case study: Thet Naing Oo, BA(Hons) Business Management (top-up)

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I always wanted to study in the UK, and with the support of an agent here in Myanmar and from speaking to other students I made the decision to join UWE Bristol. I chose the Business Management top-up degree, as I had already completed two years in a different discipline in the UK, but after some reflection chose to focus on building my knowledge and skills in the area of Business.  

From virtual to reality  

I really enjoyed the practical element of the course, in particular the airline simulation where we had to work in small groups and run a business. It was brilliant, and I felt like I was running a real firm. It was a great experience that allowed me to look into the different operational aspects such as marketing and finance (profit, loss etc). Each week we would come together and reflect on how we could improve. There was friendly competition amongst the different groups in the class which encouraged us to make our business the most successful.  

“The practical nature of the top-up gave me the confidence to set up my own business. And I’m currently running an Education Consultancy – supporting students from Myanmar to come and study in the UK” 

The future is bright  

I had always thought about setting-up my own business, and on my return to Myanmar I took the time to think through what I loved and what I know and started to develop some business ideas.  

I created Unigo Education Consultancy as a way to help the younger generation realise their potential and strive to study a degree overseas and greatly increase their career prospects. It’s a great way for me to share my experiences of studying in the UK and to help them navigate their way through the education system.  

“Studying on the top-up degree was a great experience as I got to work alongside students and academics from all around the world.” 

Case study: Jerry Barnor, BA(Hons) Banking and Finance

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Jerry Barnor is a final year BA Banking and Finance student studying at UWE Bristol.

I always knew I would study Finance at University, it’s something that I’ve always been interested in. I would regularly follow the financial news and read articles about inflation and interest rates and how this affected the economy. It was fascinating to me even though at that time, I didn’t fully comprehend what it all meant.

As I’ve progressed through my course this has all fallen into place and I have a much deeper understanding of the subject matter. I still continue to follow the financial news the difference now is that it makes complete sense to me.

Friends, finance and facilities

My time here at UWE has been really good – I’m close with all my classmates and the teaching and staff have been great. Very different from what I was used to previously (at college). There’s a good mix of lectures which focus on both theory and practical application. I’ve been involved in debates and presented both individually and as part of a group. This was something I had never done before. I’ve also been involved in reflective essays critiquing my work to understand how this could be improved.

“I’ve made some very good friends both in and out of class and I’ve taken advantage of the facilities such as the Bloomberg Trading Room. The data you have access to is incredible and has been valuable to support my studies, in particular with writing my dissertation.”

From Bristol to Barcelona

The great thing about UWE is there’s always something going on. And I had heard about an event called Go Global. Go Global is an opportunity for students to work on a short-term internship in a different country.

There was a position at a tech firm in Barcelona which I applied for and got the job! The firm specialised in gaming which is something I know about (being an avid gamer myself).

The placement was over two months in the summer and through Go Global and Erasmus I was given a bursary of £1,500 which helped finance my flights and accommodation.

The role was quite varied, I was working in the marketing department supporting recruitment of new clients. This involved writing emails and setting-up meetings. I was also lucky enough to attend some of these meetings and present to prospective clients. I would create estimates, getting the balance of each pricing model depending on the needs of each client, which was a great way of bringing my financial knowledge to the role.

Being in a working environment you learn so much. I feel I had a good grasp of different software (Word, Excel etc), but using this in a real scenario was very different! I feel like I’ve learnt a lot.

“Taking part in the Go Global scheme was such a fantastic experience and I made new friends who I’m still in touch with now.”

Team Entrepreneurship case study: Anton Bailey and Invicta Audio

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We have spoken to several Team Entrepreneurship students and recent graduates who own start-up businesses about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. This case study is from Anton Bailey, founder of Invicta Audio.

I have always had a passion for learning by doing rather than learning through academic studying, and team entrepreneurship gave me the chance to do that whilst gaining a degree at the same time. I’m currently a 2nd year student at UWE Bristol.

Invicta Audio

My business is called Invicta Audio, previously Invicta prior to Covid–19. I set up Invicta in March 2019 as an events company as I had a huge passion for events and Bristol nightlife. I was also an aspiring DJ trying to find my way into the highly competitive music scene, working for Blue Mountain club and Lakota on several projects. This helped the brand to gain a more regular and loyal following. We also put together a fresher’s event at Blue Mountain club with another member of the team entrepreneurship course. The event was a huge success and was amazing for both of our brands, helping us to grow within the Bristol music industry.

The impact COVID-19 has had on how I run my business

Before lockdown, I had been organising a mental health fundraiser event and also another show for the end of summer. Unfortunately, both events have been cancelled due to covid-19, which was a bit of a knock down. However, I then had the idea of starting a label as it had been something I had thought about before. I decided to diversify my business into Invicta Audio, making it a label and events company.

I came up with the idea of doing a massive launch project and with free time at hand it gave me the chance to sort everything out. I hired one of my close friends, a label manager, to help me out with the launch. I came up with idea of the launch LP, which is a 19 track LP where you download the tracks for free and in return the downloader subscribes to our social media channels and SoundCloud.

I used my social media marketing skills learnt from running events to promote this launch LP. It ended up doing so much better than I could’ve ever imagined. We gained over 1.5k SoundCloud followers in under a month and are currently at 1.7k followers and it’s growing every day.

We have now managed to create a platform where we can sell music to our followers and when events come back we now have a wider consumer base to sell our events to. We are now releasing music frequently on our SoundCloud and I’m currently working on new projects to help grow our business even further and will hopefully be able to throw a huge event for our new consumers after lockdown is fully lifted.

What I’ve learnt

During this time, I have learnt so much! I have learnt about how to run a label and what goes into the release of music behind the scenes that you never would’ve realised before. I have also developed my skills with social media marketing and will definitely be using those skills with my events when they’re back on. I have also learnt that just because we are in lockdown it doesn’t mean your business has to stop or you can’t start a new venture which isn’t affected by covid-19.

If it hadn’t been for covid-19, I probably wouldn’t have started this label as I didn’t have the time, and my brand definitely wouldn’t have grown the way it did. I know it’s very cliché, but I have learnt not to keep all my eggs in one basket!

How I’m feeling about the future of our business

I am feeling very positive about the future of Invicta Audio – the launch LP was just the start of many projects. I also want to further expand the business into a booking agency – keep your eyes open! I’m hoping we can continue to provide quality music and events for all of our consumers and I will do my very best to make this happen alongside finishing my degree. My dream one day is to be involved with putting on a festival.

Check out the Invicta Audio SoundCloud.

Team Entrepreneurship case study: Abbie and Organiko

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We have spoken to several Team Entrepreneurship students and recent graduates who own start-up businesses about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. This case study is from Abbie Lifton, founder of Organiko.

I am young entrepreneur currently in my first year of the UWE Business (Team Entrepreneurship) Program. I am also the founder of a vibrant start-up, Organiko.

From a very young age I have always wanted to run my own business. Having joined the program in September I quickly realised this course would be my opportunity to begin creating my first business venture, Organiko.

Organiko

Organiko, is a start-up currently providing high-quality, eco-friendly, organic cotton t-shirts personalised with our unique logo or leaf icon. Our future aim is to provide eco-friendly loungewear and activewear to a diverse audience. The business formed from my passion to find affordable and accessible sustainable clothing, in particular sportswear, which can biodegrade or be reused when such items are no longer needed.

The impact COVID-19 has had on how I run my business

COVID-19 has had a huge effect on Organiko and has led us to have to make dramatic changes to our business model. Initially, we were going to sell on market stalls as it was a cost effective, efficient method of selling but also, allowed for direct face-to-face feedback from our consumer. However, government restrictions meant taking such approach was not possible at this time. As a business, we have had to adapt and change and are currently in process of developing a website to enable ourselves to sell online and reach a wider market.

An advantage of COVID-19 on Organiko, is that it has allowed the launch to happen much quicker than initially expected. Being in lockdown has meant I have been able to focus on planning and completing the initial steps of development which has allowed for the launch to happen much sooner. Obviously, developing the website alone has taken longer than expected however, we do expect to launch in the next few weeks.

What I’ve learnt

Before COVID-19, my knowledge of how to develop a website and construct a successful social media page was minimal. However, this lockdown has allowed myself to begin exploring such areas and learn from the challenges I faced. Lockdown has not only enabled me to launch my business on social media but has also allowed me to understand the benefits of being able to sell online. Both are experiences which I wouldn’t have considered this early on if I had followed my initial plan.

From this experience I have discovered the importance of being able to adapt within business. This isn’t necessarily diverting completely from plan A to plan B , it’s about being able to take a different approach when things haven’t gone to plan. For Organiko, this involved turning to trade online rather than trade via market stalls. Personally, I saw this as being a diversion from the original plan rather than a dismissal of the market stall option.

The final lesson learnt, is to be resilient no matter what. Even though I am still within the early stages of development, there have been multiple occasions where by I could have given up. However, having known I have already invested money and time into this project I am not willing to give up easily. For me, it’s about failing efficiently and having tried all avenues before I give up. At the end of the day, an entrepreneur’s mistakes allow for lessons to be learnt and ultimately, the business to succeed from them. Being resilient through these failures gives the progression for both myself and others to succeed.

How I’m feeling about the future of our business

I am feeling positive about the future for Organiko. The market is expanding as consumers are becoming aware of the impact waste within the fashion industry is having on our environment. In particular, as the younger generation are becoming aware of the global issue, the need for sustainable clothing will increase. Obviously, there is a worry that consumer spending has been impacted by the current situation. However, I do believe that I have a unique product which addresses the evolving environmental issue, currently present within the media, that consumers will only want to invest in.

Visit Organiko’s Instagram here and Facebook here.

Team Entrepreneurship case study: Luke Gandolfi and FLAVR

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We have spoken to several Team Entrepreneurship students and recent graduates who own start-up businesses about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. This case study is from Luke Gandolfi, Head of Marketing at FLAVR.

FLAVR

FLAVR is a recipe-based, grocery shopping platform, which innovatively combines the benefits of both conventional online supermarket shopping with meal kit companies (for instance, Hello Fresh or Gousto). Thus, providing an efficient, end to end grocery shopping experience where customers benefit from an abundance of choice, flexibility on commitment, the freedom to try new and exciting meals, all while saving you time and money.

The impact COVID-19 has had on how I run my business

Covid-19 has not had a significant impact on the way we run the business. For a tech start-up, remote working is familiar. It does not pose many difficulties, especially when compared to the plethora of other challenges we face from the economy as a whole. In any case, the team were predisposed to work in isolation before the presence of Covid-19 (isolation, of course, being the natural habitat for Tech geeks), which allowed for a swift and smooth transition to wholly remote working. 

That said, albeit not strictly regarding the manner in which we run the company, the most drastic companywide challenge for us came down to team focus; and more importantly, where to direct it. 

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have assiduously focused our resources on finding and building solutions that alleviate some of the most frequently experienced issues within our domain. 

For example, the pandemic has resulted in situations whereby most people want to avoid going to busy supermarkets and waiting in long queues. To address this, we created a concept which we are incredibly proud of – the ‘Slot Spotter’. The slot spotter allows users to track down online delivery slots to place orders online conveniently. 

Another problem which is frequently faced by customers is the annoyance when products are out of stock. This is compounded when customers are unaware beforehand meaning people have to re-plan their weekly shop or meal plans.

To address this, we curated product availability-based recipes; recipes that consist only of available products, in real-time, at your chosen store. Due to our ability to collect live data on locally available products, we have the means to provide a shopping experience that significantly reduces the chances of having to put up with out of stock items!

To assist customers further, we decided to make our services free during this time.

What I’ve learnt

The following are a few key learnings that have become apparent to me during this time.

1.    Team alignment has become crucial, even more so than before. In a period when the team cannot meet up face to face and absorb one another’s energy and excitement the source of motivation must be derived elsewhere.

2.    The benefits of a team routine are not trivial. When the majority of your time spent is in one area, most likely inside, it is inevitable for routine to slip. The transition from mid-week to weekend becomes blurred and therefore having a team routine, keeping accountable to one another is crucial to maintaining healthy headspace and an attempt at normalcy. 

3.    Another interesting concept I have discovered to appreciate more is the importance of body language when communicating effectively in face to face situations. The lack of ability to read peoples body language due to reliance on video platforms has become noticeable when participating in meetings and giving presentations (task’s which primarily rely on reading the room and adapting to the situation and atmosphere of the people around you). Weight has now shifted onto the interpretation of tonality and intonations in speech.

4.    It is also interesting how the use of technology has made way for better team democracy. As a start-up company that spans two cities, it is often the case that the city with more members becomes the centre of our ecosystem or the ‘hub’. With the use of technology; being no longer bound by any geographical limitations, we have seen an equal split between the two cities. 

How I’m feeling about the future of our business

Positive, undoubtedly. 

Whilst this pandemic has caused extensive hardships to families who have lost loved ones and to the economy, which may well take years to recover. I do believe the situation has proved to be a significant test to people’s mindsets, and there are definitely positive aspects to come from it. Individuals who have and can continue to maintain an optimistic and opportunistic mentality will prosper. 

At this moment in time, the government and population are focussed on the considerable changes to the economy, which are unequivocally viewed as disastrous. The detriment to the economy has been noted as much worse than the financial crisis of 2007/2008, a period which most people recall as being full of despair and uncertainty and when nothing positive came about as a result. 

However, it is not often considered that there is a contrary perspective. The crash of 2007/2008 proceeded into a time that gave birth to some of the most influential and successful companies of this day and age; to mention but a handful – Airbnb, Uber, WhatsApp, Slack, Square and Groupon.

Opportunities present themselves, especially in time of crisis. Although these opportunities may be riskier and are often more challenging during a period of economic downturn and uncertainty, the upside is tenfold. The reality is, valuable businesses can succeed and prosper through crises. 

If we ask ourselves fundamentally, what the purpose of business is, I would insist that it is merely finding solutions to problems (as trite as that may be). Therefore, is there ever a more noble time than a crisis to make this a reality—a time where there are more urgent challenges and demanding problems to address. This sense of finding problems to solve is certainly what gets us out of bed in the morning; the opportunity to have a more significant impact on the world should we succeed.

Visit the website here.

Team Entrepreneurship case study: Joe Stallion and Solvi Solutions

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We have spoken to several Team Entrepreneurship students and recent graduates who own start-up businesses about their experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. This case study is from Joe Stallion, co-founder of Solvi Solutions.

Solvi Solutions

Solvi Solutions is an organisation specialising in Marketing Automation, using technology to streamline the marketing process, while delivering relevant and personalised experiences to a company’s audience, saving both time and money for busy workplaces.

The impact COVID-19 has had on how I run my business

The drastic impacts of this pandemic have been reflected across the local and national economy, affecting the daily operations of many businesses. Whether sales are booming or declining, this environment calls for a response.

At Solvi Solutions, face-to-face interactions are preferred, but not essential, when delivering our service. This has allowed us to continue with some level of normality. We strive to maintain our high standards, giving our clients one less thing to worry about during this time. 

The focus of our account management strategy shifted to support a broader spectrum of client needs, often ranging from a friendly chat about business to website development and maintenance. We have continued to build our community through digital networking events, looking to expand this support to others.

Internally, it has been a similar story. We have facilitated change to look after our most important asset: people. For some, home working is a dream, but for others, it can lead to burnout, loneliness and declining productivity. Many of these challenges can be attributed to a lack of structure, making it important to engage in daily video calls to address pressing tasks and business objectives. It is also a great opportunity to engage in the social element of business we all very much miss.

What I’ve learnt

In both life and business, adversity is one of our most effective teachers. COVID-19 and its wider economic impacts continue to represent a formidable opponent for many businesses, including my own.

In times like these, strategic partnerships and business relationships are key to survival. This pandemic represents a common enemy through which businesses in both local and national markets can collaborate for the greater good. We have done our best to exchange the currencies of knowledge and information to assist those struggling in this time. 

At Solvi Solutions, we have reached out to our network providing cost-free advice and guidance surrounding the digitalisation of business operations and processes. In return, our network has granted access to networking circles, software discounts and testimonials. This transmission of value has been instrumental not only to coming through this pandemic afloat, but also becoming more resilient than ever before.

I came across a quote from Simon Sinek, one I wish I had seen earlier, but am glad to share with you now:

“Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.”

As a business, we had never planned for viruses, volcanic eruptions or meteor showers… and I don’t think we ever will. Successfully planning for every eventuality makes a couple of big assumptions (1) we can accurately predict what that situation might look like and (2) that our plan goes to plan.

Adaptability in the face of change triumphs stringent planning, while also being useful outside of a global crisis. We have leant to use our agile nature to adapt to market demands and continue providing value to new and existing clients.

How I’m feeling about the future of our business

The future for businesses, including my own, remains unpredictable. However, the entrepreneurial traits of optimism and open-mindedness can overcome the uncertainty that this pandemic has created.

Feelings of negativity can become overwhelming in times like these. After discussions with my co-founder and the wider business community, it became clear that everyone was feeling a similar way. Most businesses had to adjust the direction of growth away from their desired path, adding to the pressures of the pandemic. 

It becomes important as a business to accommodate this new path and view it through a positive lens. At Solvi Solutions, we have proceeded to re-frame our offering to help those recovering from this crisis, and our marketing automation continues to support a range of businesses in the South West. Pivoting, transforming and conforming to fresh market needs is our anchor in remaining positive moving forward.

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