The Covid-19 crisis continues to be a strange, worrying and somewhat surreal entity for everyone. Yes, we’re slowly emerging bleary-eyed from lockdown and settling into a new existence behind screens and facemasks, but until there’s a vaccine nothing is certain. For the time being, we live on hope, social distancing and hand sanitiser.
Thankully, though, our worlds do feel a little lighter and brighter than they have done these past few months. Knowing that the measures taken to slow the virus’ spread have been effective, as well as the government’s unprecedented plans to boost employment and the economy, have lifted our spirits and made us genuinely believe that things will ‘get better’ instead of this being some unstable platitude we clung to during the darkest times.
Almost no business sector has been unaffected by Covid-19. For business owners, this historic time has been stressful and devastating but in many cases it’s also been inspiring. Whether it’s the way your team has willingly made sacrifices and come together to work harder than ever before, or how you’ve been pleasantly surprised by your own resilience, adaptability and leadership—the past few months have seen all of us grow and self-realise in ways that otherwise would have taken years, if at all.
Since the very beginning of the crisis, Evolve has been resolute in its support of business owners and entrepreneurs. Combined with a Covid-19 resource centre on our website, we immediately switched our regular, face-to-face peer groups to weekly online sessions.
We knew, more than ever, that our supporters needed us. And, as you’ll see from the testimonials below, these remote sessions very quickly grew into support networks that went far beyond business, while further bolstering the strong community that has been Evolve’s mission from the very beginning.
Here are the experiences of three of our valued peer group members. If you have an experience you’d like to tell us about, please contact us so we can add it to this story.
Your words inspire us to keep providing the support you need to be successful in both business and life.
Becky Boston – Co-founder and business development director at Emphasis HR and Training
The Evolve peer group has meant a lot to me since I joined, and more so over the last few months. Our business, like many others, has been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus, which sends your world as a business owner into a spin. Having the support of Warren and the others in the peer group has been the just what I’ve needed.
People taking the time to listen to your concerns, giving brilliant and knowledgeable advice and personal encouragement. The group has been positive in the promotion of new activities, such as social media videos, online training and different packages we could promote, and Warren, as always, is the reassuring voice of calm, commercial, common sense.
It’s been great to share the highs, lows and also have time for a laugh!
Chris Palmer – Owner of AnyTech Solutions
The important thing about the Evolve sessions is that throughout the pandemic it’s fair to say that everyone has grown much closer even though we’ve been sort of distanced away. The cameraderie and the fact that we all feed off one another has been really, really useful.
Through the pandemic, different people have good weeks and bad weeks, so you might find you’re having a particularly good week but another member of the group is having a low—they’re at the bottom of their curve. In these cases, everyone rallies around and gives as much support and feedback as they can.
What’s been really interesting is going through that myself. When I’ve been at a low ebb, others have been at a high ebb and they’ve lifted me back up again, and the next week the roles might be reversed. The difference of opinions has been useful and often leads you to challenge your own thought processes and the way you’re viewing things. You feel a little bit more positive and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t feel alone.
A lot of us run our businesses and don’t necessarily have a business partner or anyone to turn to to bounce ideas off, and Evolve is brilliant for that; it’s like having your own boardroom where everyone is invested in seeing you do well but equally they will challenge you when you’re not necessaily making decisions that seem terribly thought through. Going through what we’ve all been through, and are still going through, would be far more challenging if we didn’t have Evolve.
We’ve all learnt together, we’ve all grown together and we will continue to do so. And there’s a real feeling of us all having each other’s backs. Even outside of the peer group, a couple of members have messaged me directly or phoned me out of hours because they just want to talk about stuff, so it’s been enlightening and it’s certainly a place of positivity.
You’re in a safe environment, there’s nothing you can say that will get shouted down or ridiculed or anything like that; it’s a safe place for you to expose yourself without feeling weak in any shape or form.
Mark Cribb – Managing director of Urban Guild
These past few months have been a particularly uncertain time. Normally, when you have a problem, there’s an expert in an area or field to go to. For example if it’s a numbers thing you go to your accountancy, if it’s an HR thing you go your HR person, but there’s no experts on pandemics, so what’s been good in the Evolve peer groups is that everybody’s opinion is equally as valid because we’re all learning together; this gives you quite a broad perspective.
Often the groups have been much more about chewing the fat and discussing the nuances of what direction to go in—it’s a shared learning and experience platform. The other thing is understanding the impact on different industries. I could go all over with self-pity about the fact that hospitality is completely ruined and presume that everything’s bad, but actually you find out that architects are busy, marketing companies are busy, et cetera. It’s good to realise that the world hasn’t actually come to an end, that it’s not completely catastrophic and that maybe the ecomonic impact isn’t going to be as recession-inducing as you might otherwise fear if you were only surrounded by retailers and hospitality people.
In that way it’s been reassuring just to hear how other sectors are navigating the crisis, and when you find out they’re still performing strong it just gives you a little bit more confidence. And also if you’ve been stuck at home, it also sometimes nice just to speak to other business people.