Nicky Marshall & Sharon Critchlow
Re-discovering your Bounce in a time of crisis
There are few topics more important than our mental health at this time where our working and personal lives have been changed so significantly. The pressure of whether you still have a job and if you have, how you manage this alongside taking care of children. For business owners, the stress of keeping your own business afloat can be overwhelming. We talked to Nicky Marshall and Sharon Critchlow, owners of Discover Your Bounce about how they have adapted their business to the current situation and how they are managing their own wellbeing.
Discover Your Bounce was originally set up by Nicky Marshall in 2013 as a personal development business and expanded to move into the corporate sector in 2017 with the addition of Sharon Critchlow. The company offers a range of services and programmes to individuals and mid-size corporates and charities and there is also a Social Passion Project called Bounce Buddies which offers free mental health talks to the construction sector.
“When the lockdown happened, £2,500 of revenue was knocked from the cash flow on the first day,” stated Sharon. “We had to act fast to adapt. We already delivered some programmes online, but a large part of our work was based around face to face contact, which obviously was no longer possible.”
Moving quickly to a totally digital delivery of their programmes, they focused on promotion of these along with a bigger role for the publishing side of the business. Whereas previously the majority of their business before COVID-19 was B2B, they now worked to develop more B2C services. They also reviewed their pricing to enable more people to access it at a lower cost.
“This change in focus meant that we had to review our marketing channels, using Facebook more to build our Discover Your Bounce community, giving inspirations tips each day through The Daily Bounce!” said Sharon. “We would advise any small business to go with what your customer is demanding rather than forcing your products or services to fit the current situation.”
The company now provide webinars on topics ranging from emotional intelligence to training your brain to combat stress. They took the decision to offer the first one for free to attract new clients and they are proving popular.
“We were already working from home a lot of the time, but one positive aspect of the current situation has been the reduction in time spent rushing around from meeting to meeting, travelling long distances to meet clients. We now have the time to think clearly, plan and work through our to do list” said Nicky.
“The biggest challenges have been reaching a new market on a limited budget – we have had to learn as we go along. The reduction in cashflow from clients postponing bookings is difficult and we have had to take on more work ourselves, having had to furlough our marketing assistant” Sharon commented.
As part of the change in focus for the company, they have launched two community books this month and others are currently in production – The Bounce Back Journey of Women’s Health and one focusing on men’s health. “This process is very cathartic as it is an opportunity for contributors, while they are stuck at home with time on their hands, to share their stories and provide inspiration for others,” explained Nicky. Their original book The Bounce Back Journey was based on a similar model of contributors and reached no 8 in the Amazon charts for personal transformation, making it a best seller.
Nicky and Sharon are busy exploring all options for providing support to their clients including team calls for corporate businesses to keep a check on their wellbeing and providing workshops online. “Zoom is our new best friend!” said Nicky. “We have noticed that with more people working more informally at home, some of the traditional barriers in communication have been removed which is definitely a positive thing.”
Sharon has found there is a lot of chatter on platforms such as LinkedIn where people are concerned by having to go back to normal once the restrictions have been removed. This time has made people rethink their work practices on everything from commuting to flexible working. She views this as having potential benefits for everyone, particularly women who have learnt how to find a balance in their domestic and working life.
“The shift to remote working also has the potential to have a long-term social impact, as people now question the need to waste time and money travelling each day and large corporates can see the cost benefits of reducing office space. In addition to this, there are significant changes in management styles which are now based more on trust and taking into consideration the benefits to mental health of employees in this new way of working,” says Sharon.
From their experience, Nicky & Sharon’s tips for survival for other small businesses are:
- Get your accounts and records up to date and speak to your accountant and organisations such as GetSet for Growth to get their advice
- Look at your costs and try to minimise them where you can
- Focus on what you need to learn to help your business in the medium term. Now is a great time to computerise your accounts, learn how Instagram works and take advantage of the online training available
- Focus on you. You cannot give from an empty cup, so take this opportunity to reflect on what you love about your business and your lifestyle – was it really giving you what you wanted? This pause provides a perfect opportunity to change direction or to remind yourself why you started your business in the first place as well as gather your strength for the coming months
- Develop your long-term plan and think about what you want to focus on once this is over. In times of stress it can be easy to get caught up in the day to day planning, but where would you like to be this time next year?
On a personal level, Sharon has enjoyed having the extra time once taken up with travel and meetings to focus on writing and Nicky has noticed that providing their programmes online has required her to develop a whole new set of skills. She has also discovered the positive effects of laughter to help people feel connected at a time when they could feel isolated.
Looking forward they are both keen to get back to working face to face with their clients again as virtual high fives and online hugs are not the same. They also look forward to spending time with family and friends but in the meantime, to relax, Nicky is busy enjoying her online ballet and Zumba classes plus running and Sharon is loving the sunny weather which allows her to potter in the garden and playing her range of instruments.
To find out more about Discover Your Bounce click here and do check out our blog post on how to improve your mental health during lock down here.