Simon Veasey: “COVID19 - How can my social enterprise adapt?”

Bart Dalton

We welcomed a phone interview with Simon Veasey last week where we spoke about adaptation techniques, planning & development and the worldwide crisis of COVID19. Simon is iSE's Director of Business Development and has had a diverse career over the past 25 years spanning statutory health and social care, social enterprise and the third sector working in both development and operations roles. -

“We need to be diverting these thoughts into what can you do differently and how do you do this!”

What support are you offering for social enterprises during this period?

“We're a cic we've had to change our whole way of doing things and expect it to be the same for businesses across the board. All programmes have gone digital alongside all support packages. What we’re starting from Monday is a helpline open during office hours so CIC’s can be connected to other social enterprises and support packages nationally and locally.

We’re bizarrely starting a new project come Monday surrounding business growth. We are now able to offer growth support across Birmingham & Solihull. We’ll be looking at how we can assist in the restructuring process and feeding advice of how to attain financial support. i-Se will be taking on a coordinating role. We will be civ’ing through information and distributing correct and helpful documents to businesses within those areas. ”

How to utilise your current model to generate income / awareness during this period?

“Personally we’ve always stuck with what we know works well. This situation has given us a kick up the backside to switch our programmes to an equally useful digital product. Some businesses may be looking at making this a no1 product. We found it works really well, amazing feedback and has given us some comfort in doing what we do in an online format. As creatives and musicians we have to learn to adapt quickly one example of this is i’m a part of a songwriting group in Coventry and we had a digital songwriting meeting a couple of days ago and it worked really well. Keeps us thinking creatively which is imperative.

We need to be looking at what's around now and what you can use to get yourself out of the hole. Sitting back and reflecting on whether it worked for you in a business sense and look if you can then develop this into a viable product that can be made saleable. ”

Planning techniques and how to remain calm during this situation?

“ I would think about what you can do. Don't stress too much about what you can't do. Bit of a crazy thing to say but, people are worrying about what they can't do rather than worrying about what they can do and trying to find solutions for it. Really easy to get into a blind panic. None of us have never been here before. We’re wasting a lot of time stressing about - can't do this and can't do that, perhaps we need to be diverting these thoughts into what can i do differently, how do I do this and thinking about what you would do if this becomes a long term thing

If diverting away from your logical way of thinking, you need to give up this game. You need to always be thinking about what's next. You can continue to develop your business without f2f interaction, often people have started social enterprises up from passion and this enthusiasm and energy a lot of time strips out the careful thoughtful planning.. Now's the time to go back and do the thoughtful planning. Think about it, develop some new products. When we’re back on our feet think how useful these new initiatives and products will be to your overall business. ”

How to become resilient and mitigate further risk?

“Networks! The whole concept of social enterprises works really well when organisations are working together, buying off one another, trading together - if no one else is buying our stuff well often buy it off one another. Whether or not it's f2f or digital connections it's really important. Meeting people who think like you is something to really think about. Whether you're working with creatives or teaching languages. We have the same morals and ambition. Let's come together and see how beneficial the network can be. Networking meetings will be moved to online so the opportunity is still there. ”

“Pick your information carefully, get a good source and stick to that.”

3 Key takeawys;

  • 1. Plan and keep planning.
  • 2. Join Networks.
  • 3. Don't get lost in the noise.

To summarise COVID19 has shocked not only businesses but the world itself. Staying at home is paramount, look out for one another, be supportive of one another and share your findings (check the source before). Together we’re stronger and will get through this!

Subtle Speaks // Simon Veasey