Being self-employed can be a lonely experience and COVID reinforced that. However despite that, it opened up new ways of doing things, new ways to communicate and new ways to reach out and support each other. 
Although we were not able to meet face to face, our Smart Marketing, bi-weekly Zoom sessions had been extremely productive and insightful into each other’s businesses. In actual fact, what I realised was that we could be equally productive having on-line sessions as face to face, and not have to travel to destinations- getting stuck in traffic or the weather impeding the journey. As long as the internet was up and running and we had a device, we were good to go. 
When COVID was identified and we went into lockdown, I had less than two days to convert my business online or risk losing my tutoring business. I had no choice but to act quickly, and get my clients on board. Admittedly, some were cautious as I had only ever tutored face to face and they were not sure about the transition, hoping it would be a temporary fix to a short situation. Unfortunately, I did lose some students as exams were cancelled- I lost a part of my income overnight and still had bills to pay. I felt anxious and frustrated and not sure what the next move should be. 
Tim, the advisor from Smart Marketing, contacted me out of the blue- an unexpected but welcome email and call- informing me about the Smart Marketing group meetings and encouraging me to attend, which I did. I joined one of the groups and made sure that I did not miss any sessions. They were invaluable; meeting other business owners who were also struggling, and each member of the group being given an opportunity to talk about the impact of Covid on their business and on them personally, and identify the next move- being still, but not standing still. Even though some of our businesses could not operate, our advisors made us look at what we could do in the interim, not wasting any time and using this valuable time to develop new ideas in preparation for when businesses reopened, whilst holding us responsible and accountable with feedback during the next session- homework. 
Each session followed a format and topic, which we would each discuss and contribute to. Our contributions to the session were important and no one was allowed to be quiet or we would be ‘called out’ to contribute. Some sessions were a rollercoaster of frustration and at times not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel was difficult – some of us had small breakthroughs, other times things seemed to stand still, but we were cheerleaders for each other, cheering even the smallest accomplishment. 
During this pandemic, I took the opportunity to look at my business to see how I could diversify into other areas; I’ve written an online Study Skills Proficiency course and I’m also in the throes of writing an E-book. These past 18 months has been challenging but also given me the chance to make positive changes; identify to needs of a new client base and provide those new services. 
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