Adapting my business during Covid-19

How have businesses adapted during the Covid-19 crisis?
Are female entrepreneurs thriving during these difficult times?
What changes need to be made to existing business models?

I was pleased to discuss these issues in the SINC Female Founders webinar run jointly by with Sussex Innovation Centre & Gatwick Diamond Business, as part of their Survive & Thrive series.

I shared the screen with 2 other female founders – Daniela Carl, Deputy Chief Executive of the Regional Studies Association, and Oanh Brophy, head of a circular economy start up.

SINC webinar

The objective of the session was to introduce our businesses & discuss how we had adapted during the pandemic. Here’s what I covered.

 

Effective Environmental Management during Covid-19

I shared my story – my why, my business, my services.

I started with ‘My Why’ – my love for our beautiful, complex & wonderful world. It’s important to me & what drives my career in environmental management.

Our Wonderful World

Indeed, many more people nowadays feel the same. Recent research by Capgemini of 7,500 UK adults found that 65% of consumers will be more mindful about the impact of their purchases post-lockdown. But this is not just new, a knee-jerk reaction – 80% had already changed their purchasing habits in the past 12 months for social or environmental issues.

This presents great opportunities for businesses now. That’s where Eshcon comes in – I help start-ups, fast growth & corporates with ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, SECR carbon reporting & ESOS energy audits. Reducing risk, cutting costs, saving time & winning business – this is Effective Environmental Management.

I do realise that it’s scary to get started. I work with ‘nudge theory’ – Start small but gain rapid momentum, making it relevant, interesting & rewarding.

I shared some examples:

  • Hotel kitchens – 15% gas savings just with behavioural & operational changes
  • Roband Electronics – saves £1,000 & 3 tCO2e on lighting & equipment efficiencies
  • Elvis & Kresse – make handbags out of unwanted fire hoses (they estimate that 1 tonne of waste generates £100,000 in value)
  • Forster Communications – 37% of staff now commute by bicycle, with good cycle parking & incentives like extra holiday.

I love hearing of stories of companies making great environmental improvements… and seeing the commercial benefits. It’s what I’m here for!

 

Covid-19 Challenges & Opportunities

So, on to our experiences during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Being a micro business, I haven’t been affected in the same way as many other organisations – I already work from home so haven’t had to close any sites & I also don’t have to worry about staff, no-one to furlough or concern about redundancies.

I have developed new ways of working, however.

Clearly the use of technology has helped – with virtual meetings, workshops & committees taking place every day. That has helped with business continuity, although there are of course challenges (try getting a good team dynamic with 20 people from all over the country who have never met).

Unable to visit my clients’ sites to conduct environmental audits, I have implemented remote auditing techniques. This is very new for my industry & I’ve been leading on this, teaching companies & other environmental professionals how to get the best from these audits. We had 400 people attend one of our webinars.

You may have heard of the tagline Build Back Better – as we’ve seen above, people don’t want to just return to the old ways of working & living, we have an opportunity to change for the better. Because of this, I have seen increased demand for info – about me, my business, services or just simple advice.

Rather than pivoting my business, I have developed new services, sometimes focussing on new types of customers, e.g. carbon footprints & environmental action plans for SMEs.

I am revisiting my marketing strategy – doing lots of writing (articles, blogs, features for others’ publications) & pushing social media more & in different ways (including [terrifying!] vlogs).

With the extra time I have at home (instead of travelling 2 hours a day), I’m finally getting round to writing my book. Entitled ‘Why waste time on environmental management?’, it is all about how to put in an EMS & really get the commercial benefits.

I’m looking for more case studies, particularly from SMEs, so please do tell me your environmental stories.

But it’s not all work … I’m using the opportunity to give something back.

It’s important to keeping in touch with people – friends of course, but also the people I used to meet through my business networks. We all need a bit of support, a friendly face & maybe advice now & again. Indeed, we could use a bit of a laugh! I’m keeping up with the networking (mostly through GDB & IEMA) and having 1-2-1s.

I’m continuing with my charity support, teaching & mentoring. Just in the past week, I’ve spoken with 2 women who are changing their career focus – I’ve shared my experience of setting up my business & how to get ahead in the sustainability industry. It helps them & it’s very satisfying for me too!

#ShowYourStripes Covid-19 face mask Lastly, I explained this photo of me in my face mask – these are the climate stripes were developed by Professor Ed Hawkins, a simple visualisation of complex climate data, showing the average global temperatures since 1850. While this is my Covid-19 protection, it’s also an opportunity – it’s a great conversation starter about climate & environmental issues.

I hope this blog has been useful to see how my small business has adapted during the pandemic. It’s a challenge, of course, but there are also opportunities if we look for them.

 

 

 

 

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