With so much uncertainty for business owners it’s time for a Digital Renaissance to ensure we are effectively caring for the safety, wellbeing, health and longevity of both our clients and our businesses. In recent weeks the world has gone rather mad, and we’re poised for worse to come. Acrylic Digital closed our office doors last Wednesday and the team are all now working remotely from home in an effort to protect ourselves, our families, our clients, and everyone else from the spread of Covid-19.
Acrylic are far from alone in shutting down. We are, however, fortunate to be living in the digital age and a time when everything we do for our clients on a daily basis can still be done with a little creative thinking and a lot of technical wizardry.
In such uncertain times, it’s understandable that there is a lot of fear for the future, both personally and professionally. With more and more people self-isolating, and those most at risk already in lockdown, the streets are starting to look like ghost towns.
And let’s not get started on the impossibility of finding an adequate supply of toilet paper.
Many of our clients operate brick and mortar businesses that rely on footfall and the physical presence of their customers walking through the door. We’re currently working incredibly hard to put everything they need in place to ensure they have digital methods of continuing to serve those clients and generate income for the duration of the pandemic.
But in the midst of all this planning, my thoughts have turned (as they are wont to do, since I was an archaeologist in a former life) to history. More specifically, to the history of pandemics and what we might learn from them…
The Black Death And The Renaissance…
The current global pandemic is incomprehensible on many levels. It’s a thing we never believed was possible in this day and age with all our advances in technology and medicine. But global pandemics are far from a new experience for human society. The Black Death ravaged the world in the late middle ages, a disease that spread unchecked and led to the death of around a quarter of the world’s population.
And yet, out of the struggle and tragedy the pandemic brought came a social and cultural evolution that redefined the world.
The Black Death saw the end of the Middle Ages and the dawning of the Renaissance, a period renowned for its artistic expression and innovation. Society may have been devastated and plunged into an incomprehensible time of economic depression, fear and sadness, but it ultimately stimulated social development and economic growth.
The word ‘renaissance’ itself means ‘rebirth’, and the period gave us some of the greatest innovators and creative minds of human history, including Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare. It was a time of exploration and growth, with the likes of Christopher Columbus literally reinventing the map and our understanding of the globe (previously believed to be flat…although that notion seems to be having an unfortunate revival).
The renaissance gave us some of the greatest works of art ever created, the printing press, and birthed modern science and technology as we know it today.
Development has frequently been born from hardship, crisis and necessity. War, famine, natural disasters and yes, illness, have a habit of forcing humanity to rise above itself, reassess its priorities, and refocus on what we truly need to survive, thrive, and care for each other.
At the time of the Black Death, an unfathomable number of people lived in poverty, their skills and contributions undervalued, their needs scarcely met. The plague caused a societal paradigm shift that led to a desperate need for skilled workers, an increase in the value of their contributions, and a period of patronage that saw the wealthy and elite supporting the poor for the collective benefit of all.
It led to a new philosophy of humanism that focused on people and their ingenuity in terms of art, literature, and science, rather than a reliance of superstition and the belief that humans are subject to the wills and whims of fate.
Instead, we took control of our own destiny and forged new ways of living that ensured the likes of the Black Death has not been seen since.
Social And Industrial Evolution Born Of Pandemic Chaos…
For years we have watched the NHS dwindle in the face of cuts, more cuts and staffing issues, yet now we turn to them as the source of our salvation. It is not the wealthy elite who are going to get us all through the current crisis, but the nurses, doctors, delivery drivers, shelf-stackers, postal workers, and carers who are currently working tirelessly in the face of a panicked population.
Yes, the world has gone mad, yet the world has gone mad numerous times throughout history and always, those times are followed by change. Growth. Evolution. Progress.
So while we are in the grips of both personal and professional terror over what is going to happen in the coming months, in looking back on how society has weathered such storms in the past I can only conclude that, despite what will undoubtedly be a period of great difficulty and sadness, we shall emerge stronger, kinder, more grateful, less complacent, and embrace a new way of thinking.
We shall adapt; we shall evolve.
Work On Your Business If You Can’t Work In It…
We’ve had so many conversations with clients in the last week who are worried, not only for their families and friends and what all of this means for them personally, but what it means for their businesses. Like Acrylic, many have already been forced to close their doors, and unlike Acrylic, many do not have business models that naturally lend themselves to maintaining ‘business as usual’ in a purely digital sphere.
There is a natural uncertainty and fear in the business world, with pubs, cafes, restaurants and most other public places being told they have to close. How can you maintain your business when it relies on people physically coming to your office? When it requires you to physically go into their homes? When you’re offering products that you’re not currently selling online, or services that can’t be delivered digitally?
While the government are promising support for businesses to ensure their continuity once the crisis has passed, it doesn’t solve your immediate concern, namely:
How are you going to keep money coming in while people are self-isolating or in lockdown?
Many are concerned an enforced lockdown will mean the end of their business, yet the digital age has given us the most powerful tool imaginable to ensure this doesn’t happen: the internet.
Your doors may be closed but your customers still exist. They still need help and advice. They just need to receive it in a different way for a while. While there is undoubtedly a lot to be concerned about at the moment, from a purely business standpoint, lockdown can be seen as an opportunity to do some much-needed work on your business while it’s not possible to do nearly as much work in your business.
In other words, most of us spend so much time looking after clients and going about the daily tasks of running a business that we seldom have time to stop and think about how our business is running:
- Is it truly serving us and our clients in the best way possible?
- What we can be doing differently to make things are even better?
- Where are there opportunities to make more money?
- How can we earn money in different ways?
If nothing else, the spread of this pandemic and the need to self-isolate, quarantine, and potentially lockdown everything for the foreseeable future is going to force business owners to consider these questions.
And that, at least, does not need to be a negative experience.
In the digital age there are so many opportunities for delivering services remotely, selling products digitally, and earning completely passive income for your business.
It’s time we all got creative and adapted to a world that’s likely going to require a complete paradigm shift for many of us over the coming months.
The Digital Renaissance…
If you’re wondering what you can possibly do to keep your business going, the answer (initially at least) can be found on social media. It’s the bane of many business owners’ existence yet the more we are forced to isolate ourselves to deal with this crisis the more we are turning to social media to keep us connected.
My inbox has been flooded by a tsunami of doom and gloom newsletter and email campaigns from business owners panicking in the face of the pandemic. I get hundreds of them every day, from people I haven’t heard from in months or years, who I’d forgotten I’d ever subscribed to in the first place.
I can summarise this experience for you in a single word: depressing.
When we look at the content coming from those in genuine quarantine and complete lockdown there are far more messages of hope than there are of misery. Even those who have contracted the virus have been sharing photos and videos in an effort to keep people’s spirits up while raising awareness of the need to take this pandemic seriously.
There is a delicate balancing act to be struck here, yet your social media platforms have the power to bring positivity and hope to all your customers.
Social media gives you the opportunity to work hard during this time of social distance to build a digitally supportive platform and network that will not only actively help your community but ensure that, once the crisis is over and people can return to business as usual, they are coming to you without question, because you have been there for them throughout this ordeal.
If we’re smart we’re all going to use this time to ensure the health and longevity of our businesses while we are, as a nation, practising self-isolation and quarantine in order to ensure the health and longevity of each other.
Acrylic will be offering a ton of free advice over the coming weeks to all business owners worried about how they’re going to weather the storm. We’re here to help you get set up working remotely, and put new systems in place that allow you to sell online, serve your clients digitally, and embrace a digital renaissance for your business that sees you come out of this crisis stronger than ever.
Our Head of Marketing, Hazel Butler, is an award-winning author, copywriter, and editor. Part ghostwriter, part blogger, part videographer, and part strategist, when she’s not endlessly penning content for our clients Hazel’s happily concocting the perfect marketing plans to propel their businesses forward.
Get to know her...