We hosted a Zoom workshop for businesses local to our studio in southwold yesterday, helping them adapt and thrive.

Southwold is a wonderful seaside town that’s a real, working town too. Not just because of its busy brewery and distillery that employs hundreds of locals, but also by the wealth of really interesting independent traders that still dominate its High Street.

That High Street, in common with retail areas everywhere, has now been mainly shut for over two months. For small businesses, reliant upon year round income to survive (you know, at least pay the mortgage and put food on the table …), a two month shut down as the weather warms up is utter disaster.

Spring’s job in life is to help businesses identify opportunities, form strong relationships with customers, and grow profitably – and we have been in the fortunate position of being able to carry on working during lock down. So we wanted to do what we could to help.

We limited our group to very few to allow everyone who joined us ample time to ask their questions and for us to be able to give properly detailed answers. Businesses including Collen and Clare, Lift, Slate and Old Hall Farm joined us and, as you’d expect, there were many shared issues but some fascinating points of unique challenge too.

How, for example, do you embrace digital marketing if ad platforms think your product is dubious? (CBD oil, one of the fastest-growing wellness products in the world.) How do you keep a relationship going with your market if you have nothing to photograph and little news to share? How will you open again, if you have a tactile product and a small space?

We shared a brief presentation giving some really easy to use tips for brand, digital, social media and PR. Then the conversation opened up – and wonderful things happened.

As a direct outcome of the 90 minutes everyone has invested in their business, we have already seen one distribution partnership open up, a charity ‘10% donation’ scheme launch, and numerous decisions taken about small actions that will make a real difference.

One attendee said: “As the prospect of reopening nears we are really keen to switch focus on the shop and how we can move forward and adapt and be better.  This morning’s session was great as it has started the conversation for us.”

Another: “The most helpful thing I’m coming away with is motivation! It’s been a scary time and I’ve been avoiding thinking about many of these things because it all felt too daunting. Really useful to do as group as hearing other situations is reassuring and also thought provoking. Practically I’ve also gained lots and lots of tips that I’ll now interlace with my next steps for progression this funny old time!”

So: top tips? Well, in summary: be human, be useful, be collaborative, keep talking – and have faith!