Having planned this podcast for a few months, by the time I recorded my first episode in March 2020, we were already in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. This episode asks “Is this the worst time to start a podcast about International business?” And should I continue sharing my experiences, so others know they’re not alone during these difficult times?
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The International Business from Finland theme music was devised and created by Dodobones www.dodobones.co.uk
Bad timing to start something new?
Back in late-2015, after some encouragement from my future co-hosts Mark & Rich, I launched (co-launched?!) the Finnish Football Show podcast. Only 5 months and 5 shows later, we recorded a show that asked the question, is this ‘The Worst Time to Start a Podcast About Finnish Football?’ – as the national team was struggling and the Veikkausliiga had closed for winter, it seemed an appropriate question.
And so, as I write this in March 2020, I find myself asking a similar question.
I’ve been planning this podcast for a few months. Having launched my toiminimi company, I wanted a way to market the work I am doing and, being a podcaster, this seemed like the obvious medium for me. But these things take time; designing the artwork, registering for the podcast platform, creating social media pages, waiting for the theme music, and so on. All meant that, by the time I recorded my first episode in March 2020, we were already in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19.
And so, I’ve been having a crisis of confidence. Is this the worst time to start a podcast about International business? In all honesty, I don’t know it is too early to say. Right now, most companies that can, are requesting that their workers work at home. Currently as I write, this is voluntarily rather than legislated but that could change. Also, most schools here in Finland have sent the children home and are sending school assignments via email. This is an added challenge for the parents that are working at home, who are now also teaching at home! No-one really knows exactly how far these restrictions will go. To say the future is uncertain is something of an understatement. Not just here in Finland, but around the world – I guess that’s how a pandemic works, it affects the whole world al at once.
Initial effects of the pandemic on my work
So far, I am noticing several effects on my business:
- Work that involves interacting with a large group, has been postponed – hopefully, to be rescheduled after the Coronavirus crisis has passed.
- A customer that was hiring me as an additional resource has cut my hours down, although we are still working together.
- Some of the sales work I do has customers on renewing annual contracts, just this past week, I’ve had the first customers doubting whether they want to renew for another year.
- There are, also, a lot more remote meetings and videos calls.
Each of these situations will need to be approached sensitively and on a case-by-case basis, however, Coronavirus will pass and business will start to return to normality. We just don’t yet know when. To paraphrase Marja, my business partner at Xport, from a recent LinkedIn post:
‘The cancellation of international B2B exhibitions has hit many exporting companies. Now that you can’t meet with current (or future) customers face-to-face. Work needs to be rearranged. For example, researching potential partners in target markets, or contacting them to introduce products can still be done, even now. Sales are increasingly moving online, not just for consumer products. If you have lists of previous contacts from these exhibitions, continue to work on them now, full steam ahead!’
Keep Calm & Carry On
I previously mentioned the Finnish Football Show. We’ve recently had a similar conversation, what is a Finnish Football Show with any Finnish football? There are people in many areas of football in Finland who have been affected; clubs have sent players home, the Veikkausliiga season is cancelled, Euro 2020 has been delayed by 12 months. The idea occurred to me that we should try to speak to people throughout the system to understand exactly what they are experiencing in their role. This developed into the FFS ‘Behind the Quarantine’ series.
With that in mind, I am going to continue with this new podcast. I am going to continue to share my experiences working under these current circumstances, what work has stopped, what work has continued and what opportunities have arisen. I hope that, by sharing my experiences, it may be something that YOU can relate to. In difficult times, to know you’re not alone might be just what you need to hear. There have been several occasions where I’ve spoken to other business owners, heard their challenges and gained some perspective on my company.
I also hope that you might want to share your experiences. Maybe on my FB page or simply by email or maybe you want to talk to me about it on a later episode of the International Business from Finland podcast. I don’t know how things may develop, for my business or for my podcast, but I think it’s OK to TRY TO accept that, embrace the uncertainty for the time being.
Nothing lasts forever, hopefully, this applies to COVID-19. As the great Tom Hanks recently said: “This too shall pass.”
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