From the Relunctant Entrepreneur Column: Business As Usual
If you’ve been in Hong Kong, you know how much of a struggle it has been going about daily life and business. No matter what side of the conflict you are on, Hong Kong has been changed.
In this season of change, how do you continue to conduct business as usual? Do you continue the same marketing strategies and ideas that you had in the past? Do you acknowledge the change of seasons, where before an innovative idea would have worked, but now could be a time for pause? What do you do when people’s sense of security, peace, and belonging has been fractured?
I have seen that first hand in running creative workshops and events for the public. In the Spring, before the unrest, we would be getting 20+ participants attending our events. People had this energetic buzz to go out and create together for a good cause. As a result of these demands, Barefoot Love started to roll out various types of creative workshops and events. But then the summer of discontent hit, and life, as we know it in Hong Kong, changed.
While the seasons change, there are things in humans that don’t change. Especially in times of chaos and confusion, we all crave that connection and sense of belonging with each other. We all want reassurance and hope that the place we live in can be and will be a safe place. Your business can be a vehicle and tool to connect with your customers and the general public in ways that leaves them better than before they interacted with you. Are you producing a product or service that connects and leaves people better than before?
As Seth Godin, known as the ‘ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age’, states, “Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them.”
So how do you do that? How do you generate hope in your business and spark people to continue to thrive and have confidence despite the chaos? One simple way is to get back down to the basics by doing what you believe in, and focusing on the core of what your business is about. I often love trying and testing out new ideas for Barefoot Love. From listening to suggestions from my customers to creating new ideas and partnerships; however, I have to constantly have in the heart of everything I do the purpose of this social enterprise. It is to motivate people to do good together in the creative arts and support charities as they do the hard work on the front-line. By keeping these two values at the heart of everything I do, it gives me the flexibility to change services and products in response to these times. While Barefoot Love still offers our Spread the Love workshops for the public, I’ve also been branching out with new custom school programs that connect students to local charities and hosting some free volunteer events to engage and connect with people. On Saturday mornings, we run Spread the Love photo walks in Sheung Wan. Every month, we connect photographers with the elderly, sharing a common passion for the love of photography and exploring the streets of Hong Kong. These monthly photo walks have often been a highlight to me, as we connect with one another and take time to do some good together in the creative arts.
If you can run your business simply by being your best self, you do not need to follow the latest trends or worry if you are catching up to your competitors. It is more productive during these times of change to focus and get down to the very heart of why your business exists in the first place. That way, you can continue to persevere when times get difficult. As an entrepreneur, there is no road map on what to do when faced with difficult circumstances. Instead, you have to rely on being resilient and adaptable to the circumstances around you. This could be closing a chapter of your business or expanding another avenue that you didn’t think of before. As long as you keep on being true to the heart of why you do what you do, you can offer people around you connection and hope. After all, “the secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.” (more Seth Godin wisdom).