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Why leaner is meaner when coping with the COVID-19 downturn

Why leaner is meaner when coping with the COVID-19 downturn

Small business owner Govind Shepley, of Twentyone06, shares an insight into how his bespoke design agency is eliminating negativity in the face of adversity, focusing within and challenging his existing methods, throughout COVID-19.

Govind Shepley, owner of Twentyone06
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Govind Shepley, owner of Twentyone06

"Grasping the neck of creativity during difficult times is crucial for survival when being an owner of a small business. The previous year saw my team diving headfirst into creating new F&B concepts, injecting life into existing ones diving into new markets and curating a collection of winning client testimonials, so we anticipated much the same for 2020. We raced into this year signing one to two projects a month and with several in the pipeline, something I consider to be a fantastic achievement for a small agency. From the offset, we had hunger for more in 2020 and COVID 19 hasn't changed that.

"Being a boutique agency, we can and will creatively adapt to the needs of our clients and the evolving market, but we aren't being honest if we say we won't come out of this pandemic unscathed. We've already lost projects, increasing our expansion to Saudi Arabia is on hold, and our team are working from home, but we don't consider it to be all bad.

"Creative minds don't have an off button, they continue to absorb inspiration from their surroundings so I support and equip my team to work remotely at home, which was the case before the lockdown and in restaurants or coworking spaces when not. Not connecting with each other and our clients face to face has been challenging, but creativity is infectious and we've adapted to spreading it virtually, so will continue to do more so after lockdown eliminating unnecessary travel to become more
sustainable.

"During the lockdown, we've chosen to explore within to strengthen and evolve to improve our pitches. This year we planned to expand our commercial design team to focusing on office designs; hiring our new project director with a wealth knowledge and expertise in this field, coming from one the largest design agencies in the region. COVID-19 has shown this decision to diversify is more relevant than ever and significantly encouraged this evolution with speed.

"We're reviewing our internal methods and previous projects and asking questions to stimulate change and growth. How can we expand our services to achieve even better results, will design now need to be more relevant than ever and will we need to start challenging our client's ideations in order to excel existing boundaries or intently listen and guide them? Tactfully finding a balance between what our clients want and what they need will be crucial in surviving this.

"Dining habits may change and we expect to explore more open plan less condensed designs, or even private areas becoming a premium in outlets with people becoming more and more conscious
of space.

"Will materials use now need to be antibacterial and be able to withstand rigorous sanitation procedures? We don't predict this will limit our design options, only alter them, so we are now researching borrowing healthcare design methods.

"As the founder of Twentyone06, I'm constantly questioning my vision of the agency and finding ways for that vision to grow and evolve amongst the team. My role throughout this current period will be to navigate my team and our brand into an exciting new place of growth and stability, to keep our positivity and creativity alive.

For now, we're powering through as a team working on our website, acquiring client feedback and testimonials, updating our company profile, mission and vision whilst strategising industry trends for the next 12-18 months to guarantee we come back bigger and better."

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