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.

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.” 

UWE Bristol launches The Bristol Distinguished Address Autumn 2020 Series

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The Bristol Distinguished Address Series (BDAS) provides a unique opportunity to hear about challenges and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership by high-profile business executives from across the country and is back for Autumn 2020. Normally, the lectures are held at Bristol Business School, however, we are now running an online version of the talks.

Upcoming Bristol Lectures

The Virtual Annual Bolland Lecture 2020: NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol Panel Discussion

14 October 2020

The Nightingales are part of a nationwide effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century. The temporary hospital at the Exhibition and Conference Centre on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus was vital to help support NHS efforts with the COVID-19 pandemic and support the local community and wider region at an exceptionally challenging time.

NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol was a truly collaborative project across a wide range of organisations and companies. Completed in just 20 days, the build of the 300-bed hospital demonstrated incredible team effort and the speed at which the hospital was been built is testament to the dedication, hard work, and teamwork from UWE Bristol staff, the Army, the NHS and the contractors, Kier. Collaboration was key with all stakeholders uniting and working together, safely, swiftly and with absolute skill and commitment. The agile response from all involved – with teams working 12 hours a day – was central to the construction project being complete in such a short time.

We are delighted to host a panel discussion focusing on the construction of the NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol, panel members include:

  • Professor Steve West CBE, Vice-Chancellor, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Marie-Noelle Orzel, Chief Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol
  • Tim Whittlestone, Chief Medical Officer, NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol
  • David Snell, Operations Director, Kier

Virtual Bristol Distinguished Address: Doug Perkins, Chair and Founder and Dame Mary Perkins, Co-founder, Specsavers

04 November 2020

Doug and Dame Mary Perkins founded Specsavers with the aim of offering affordable eye care to everyone. They will talk about how they saw the opportunity to revolutionise the optical market, following a relaxation of UK regulations, which allowed opticians to advertise products and services for the first time.

Specsavers is not built on a stock exchange model but rather on a unique joint venture partnership, where directors part-own and manage their own stores. Theirs is a values-led approach to business, which has led to a world-wide organisation that turns over 3 billion a year, operating in 10 countries and employing 35,000 colleagues.

Doug and Dame Mary met in Cardiff while studying optometry at university. After graduating they bought Mary’s father’s optometry business in her home town of Bristol, which they built into a successful chain of more than 20 stores across the south west. This provided invaluable experience when they set up Specsavers.

With Mary being Bristol-born and educated and Doug living in Bristol for 15 years (and even playing for Bristol rugby club), they will describe how their business experience in Bristol acted as an extended pilot for the birth of Specsavers and inspired their vision for affordable eyecare and audiology at scale.

After selling their original chain of stores, it took a further three years of worldwide research of partnership and franchises, which were unheard of in the medical sector, to create their unique business model.

Virtual Bristol Distinguished Address: Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Books UK

11 November 2020

Have you ever felt like you needed to conform to fit in? What does aspiration mean to you? Do you have inspiring role models in your life? Perminder Mann, CEO of Bonnier Books UK, a publishing company with sales of over 80million and a regular on the publishing industry power lists, shares an honest account of her path to success. Overcoming personal obstacles and challenging stereotypes head on, Perminder argues how we all must bring our authentic selves to work. As a passionate believer in the power of books and the role the publishing industry must play in our society, Perminder also lays out her manifesto for positive change.

You can discuss all the events on Twitter by using #BristolLectures. We’re running this series online so you can watch from the comfort of your own home. This event will be hosted on Microsoft Teams – you can either view via the web or download the app. To join the event, please follow the link that will be sent in your event reminder a couple of days before the event.

UWE Bristol alumni launch new Family Wellbeing app

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Benjamin Draper, Business Management with Economics graduate and William Testeil, International Business graduate, have created an app that makes it fun and simple for families to improve their wellbeing by encouraging them to exercise, eat well and stay mentally active together, and all within their own home if necessary – very pertinent in the current climate and beyond.

The app differentiates from what currently exists in 2 primary ways:

Firstly, it is the first app specifically catered to families, covering all 3 fundamental elements of wellbeing, exercise, nutrition, and mental health.  Within each category is a variety of challenges and activities, appropriate for both children and parents. These range from simple workouts to more innovative challenges with different difficulty levels and time taken to complete them. This range of activities means the app can adapt to a busy family lifestyle and diverse needs. This allows families to easily implement health habits into their routine to achieve their desired health and effortlessly spend more quality time together.

Secondly, the app combines health activities with gamification through an engaging personal avatar that tracks their progress. This enables the family members to visualise the positive impact their healthier lifestyle is having on them, providing a fun and motivation experience to improve wellbeing as a family. Keeping everyone’s character healthy = keeping the family healthy! Additionally, to further motivate each family member, the app also contains a simple and engaging rewards system. Each time you successfully complete a challenge you gain a seed, collect multiple seeds in a row and you can earn a wellbeing flower! The aim is essentially to grow and collect as many wellbeing flowers as possible while enhancing your own health and happiness.

As we all know having a healthy family unit is incredibly important. When a family spends more time together and keeps a healthy routine, they tend to be much happier.

Benjamin and William say that “while there are a significant amount of health and fitness resources to help individuals, we have recognised a lack of solutions and support available to families. The current lack of solutions to this problem can result in children becoming disinterested to engage in healthy activities, and with parents having numerous responsibilities and limited time, it can be a challenge to implement essential health habits into a family routine.”  

From this realisation, they believed it was time to fill this gap in the market and provide the tool families deserve to help them stay healthy and happy.

After a full year of extensive market research, they have been able to gain invaluable insights from talking directly with children and parents. “Through this customer-centric research approach, we built numerous prototypes, to test our assumptions and allow families to give us feedback to develop a compelling concept. In turn, the combination of our passion for health, helping others and our research has led us to leveraging modern technology to provide this simple and engaging mobile application with one objective in mind – help children and parents collectively achieve their desired health in a fun and convenient way.”

The app has had very encouraging feedback from both children and parents:

Parent’s feedback;

“This is a great idea and would have been amazing when my kids were younger. I searched for similar at the time and never found anything like this”

“I love this idea, my girl is 6 and she loves anything that may be a challenge!”

“Translating the health of the app-user into a facial expression is a great way to motivate the user to care for themselves”

“I really like the selection of challenges. Cleaning or climbing upstairs is something you do every day without realising the benefits”

Children’s feedback;

“I think it is really cool to take care of your own character, and it has definitely motivated me to be healthier”

“This makes improving my health fun and not so boring sometimes!”

“Downloaded the app 15 minutes ago, we have completed something out of each category. I think the workout 1 is the most I’ve been able to happily get my 5-year-old to move during lockdown. Also the food lucky dip he has just happily eaten an apple. He’s already asking what else we can do next. Really enjoying it so far. “Yep I’m enjoying it” – George 5 years”

What was your biggest challenge?

“One of the biggest challenges so far has been funding for the project. While we are very driven individuals, we have only recently graduated university and lacked the start-up capital we needed for this amazing project. That is why we set up our Kickstarter campaign, to present our idea to the public and get people as excited about it as we are. Fortunately, the campaign got amazing support and we achieved 115% of our funding goal.”

“Another challenge we face concerns choosing features to include in the app to further its development. We want to make sure we are providing families with exactly what they need and want to achieve their wellbeing goals, so making sure the correct features are included is very important to us. While we have conducted extensive research on this, there is still room for more improvement by testing not just what features will be included but also how they are integrated to provide families with maximum value.”

How does it feel to have launched the app and secured funding?

“We were completely blown away by the community involvement in our app, as well as the belief in us and this project. Securing 115% of our funding goal was amazing and we did not take it lightly!”

“Since then, we have worked very hard to create something that truly helps families and that we would be proud of. To have all this hard work come to fruition and get the reactions we have already had from parents and children feels amazing. It is a very fulfilling feeling to see and be told by your own customers about the positive impact that we are making on their lives.”

“One of the most exciting things for us is that we are only at the very beginning of this exciting journey and we are only going to improve what we provide from here. We cannot wait to introduce the app to more and more families to help them achieve the health and happiness they have always wanted.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“Our ambition is to be the go-to, trusted platform, families can easily access to effectively improve their health in an enjoyable way. Offering a simple solution to a large problem.”

“We also hope to create partnerships with schools, as well as local gyms, to reach and positively impact tens of thousands of families on a global scale. On a personal level, we cannot wait to continue positively impacting families lives and get more people healthier and happier. At the moment we are only able to work on this part time so getting funding to enable us to have this as our full-time work would be amazing. These are our goals over the next 12 months.”

Find out more on the family wellbeing website.

Challenging male dominance through the substantive representation of women: the case of an online women’s mentoring platform

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A new research article that analyses ‘alta‘ an online mentoring platform for women in aviation has been published by Susan Durbin, Professor in Human Resource Management at UWE Bristol, Stella Warren, Research Associate in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre at UWE Bristol and Ana Lopes, Lecturer in Human Resource Management at Newcastle University (UK).

Susan Durbin is also a board member of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network 14, Gender Relations in the Labour Market and the Welfare State. Her research fields are women working in male dominated professions and gendered careers.

Stella Warren has a background in applied social research. Her research topics include social marketing and the understanding of psychological pathways for behaviour change in health; gender and inequality in organisations; the gender pay gap; and women working in male-dominated industries.

This article analyses the design of an online mentoring platform—for women by women—in a high‐technology, male‐dominated UK industry: aviation and aerospace. Based on interviews with professionals and managers, they analyse the journey of the women involved and contribute to the understanding of the role of women (individually and collectively) in challenging gendered norms in a male‐dominated industry through the theoretical lenses of ‘critical actors’ and ‘critical mass’. They combine these concepts, usually seen as mutually exclusive, to explain the success of the online platform. This shows how a small number of self‐selected critical actors represented, listened and responded to the needs of the women in their industry, thus achieving the substantive representation of women. They also argue that while critical actors were key to its inception, the mentoring platform now needs a critical mass of women to ensure its success. You can read the article in full online.

Find out more about alta in their recent case study about the importance of mentoring platforms, especially relating to the corona-virus pandemic. Stella Warren also took part in our Future Impact Webinar series to talk about supporting women in male-dominated industries which you can listen back to online.

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: 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.

Visit the website here.