Growing Stronger Through a ‘COVID-Challenged’ Year

Jackie Jarvis, The Walking Business Coach and Co-Founder of Natural Netwalking asks a selection of Oxfordshire’s business owners to share the ways in which they have grown stronger during these unprecedented times.

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials” – Chinese proverb

Jackie Jarvis, The Walking Business Coach and Co-Founder of Natural Netwalking asks a selection of Oxfordshire’s business owners to share the ways in which they have grown stronger during these unprecedented times.

I work with several business owners and their teams in my role as business coach and have seen the challenges they have been through, as well as, the many ways in which they have grown stronger, both as a business, a team and as individuals.

I have seen how the building of solid foundations in terms of robust systems, deep rooted values, and a loyal, focused team, have been the glue in face of the storms. How a willingness to be flexible, move quickly and embrace change have enabled new opportunities to be capitalised upon.

And how truly appreciating and caring about people’s wellbeing has enabled what really matters to gain the focus it needed to bring heart back in.

Many of us have had to manage with a lot less.  We have had to take steps forward without a clear guide and embrace uncertainty. There is no doubt, it has been tough, but has this experience actually given us a lot more than we could have ever imagined?

Have we all grown stronger as a result?

Jackie Jarvis
Jackie Jarvis
Sam Kandiyali
Sam Kandiyali
Emma Easton
Emma Easton

How have you grown stronger? As a business and personally?

Sam Kandiyali, Target PR: Agile has undoubtedly been one of the words of 2020, and one that we, at Target, have embraced.  From switching to remote working to meeting changing client needs – we’ve had to adapt.  And while we grappled with the initial challenges, we’ve been heartened by the response.  Our team have remained committed and supportive throughout. And, despite being apart I feel in a strange way that we are even closer.  Working together has ensured that we, as a business, have remained resilient, supporting our existing clients and building relationships with new ones.

On a personal level I, like many, have struggled with an excess of my own company (bar the dog).  But this time with ‘me’ has given me greater time to reflect and to take note of my own wellbeing – building strength for the future. 

Emma Easton, Business Bollox: The challenges of Covid have reminded me how strong I am. Being made redundant from a job I loved was tough, so I formed Business Bollox to use my skills to help others. I’ve formed and strengthened relationships with many business founders, observing similarities in concerns and differences in approach, and learned along the way. I’ve built a thriving business, and the confidence and positivity that has given me, has encouraged me to look after myself – I dropped 2 stones before Christmas and am much healthier. So, a kick in the doo-daas has worked wonders, and I suspect many of us have found we’re capable of so much more, which is exciting for when we emerge from all this!

Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies, Coconut PR: The power of connection (or the absence of it) played heavily through the first lockdown, whatever your personal situation. And in professional terms, being able to stay in contact and to build new relationships really powered me through 2020. The necessity to be ‘out there’ to recover a business dented by the pausing of travel and hospitality, and to be open to skill specific opportunities more so than sector specific ones, actually played beautifully to my entrepreneurial traits and value of agility, and enabled me to shift and then grow my business. 

Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies
Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies, Coconut PR
James White
James White, James White Sales Success
Sarah Wyatt, Juicy Designs
Sarah Wyatt, Juicy Designs

James White, James White Sales Success: 2020 and Covid have taught us all a huge amount and as business owners we all need to learn from it. So many great businesses have struggled through no fault of their own but there are 3 key things I know I have learned from the process. 

  1. I am glad I built up a buffer of cash both personally and within my business so meaning I would have been able to withstand any problems if I had lost customers. I know many who hadn’t built up a reserve and when clients started to drop off, it affected them and the way they operate. Good business owners should keep 6 to 12 months cash in the business to withstand something major happening to them. If you didn’t do that before, start to do it now. When you have that buffer in place, you will make different and better decisions.
  2. Don’t expect someone else to save you. It’s down to you. Whilst lots of businesses have been shut down through no fault of their own, the ones who will win in the longer term will be those who have the ‘No one is going to solve this problem for me, I need to solve it myself’ mindset. Waiting for the government or anyone else to ‘save’ you is not a strategy I recommend. You have a choice. You can eat and choose your own future or the world around you can eat you up. My choice was to eat and build my own future and by taking control, not only do I feel better but I have grown my business as a result. I wake up each day knowing if I want to experience success it’s down to me to make it happen. No one else. Me. I have to take control of my own life and actions.
  3. The third and final one is to keep showing up and that is all down to the vision you have. When your vision and purpose for your business is clear and you know what you are here to do, you can withstand the tough times and the difficult moments. It becomes your reason for pushing off the covers in the morning and this drive and determination to serve your community will inspire you in dark moments. If you don’t have a vision then speak with someone (reach out to me and I would love to help @jameswhitesales on all social media channels) and start to build one. When you know, the future becomes clearer.

The world isn’t going back and we are going to continue to go through other changes in the next few years. Take these ideas on board and you will enjoy what life and business has to throw at you!

Sarah Wyatt, Juicy Designs: During the first lockdown, things were incredibly busy for us, helping our clients change their messaging and communications to adapt to the changing situation – well that and juggling homeschooling too of course! Come September, and then lockdown #2, there was a definite lull but having a bit of breathing space was so incredibly valuable as it allowed us to refocus our vision, put in place some strategies that had been on our ‘to do’ list for a while and get ahead for when we knew we’d be busy again.

I’ve also found that because we’re ‘all in this together’ it’s strengthened our relationships with existing clients. We’ve all had to be flexible and accommodating at times and, although it sounds a little cliched, it’s definitely brought us closer together, which can only help everyone produce even better results in future.

Life and business is never perfect. If it was all too easy the opportunities to learn and grow stronger would not exist. Values and priorities shift. One of my business coaching clients said the other day that as a business they now valued the Pursuit of Well-Being as much as the Pursuit of Profit. That their team is stronger than it has ever been, staff are showing more loyalty than ever before and the support and care they are showing for each other is real. That is one powerful business.coming through a Covid-challenged year. 

When we allow ourselves that all important reflection time we may realise that we are stronger than we thought we were. Capable of more than we thought we were. And there is still lots to be grateful for despite the challenges. This is without doubt a period in history that will never be forgotten. 

Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t.”

A Stronger Business Step by Step

If you are a business owner or professional who wants the opportunity to reflect and make fresh plans for 2021 I am offering a Virtual Walk Talk and Plan Session Taster.

To book, call 07801293022 or email


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