What’s it like launching a business during difficult times?

open sign, business owner, entrepreneur

Article provided by Kate Bosomworth, Founder, SmileZ

Sometimes you don’t always know you’re going launch a business if that makes sense.

Sometimes a good idea just gains momentum and before you know it you’re already doing it. In my experience that has a tendency to happen when you find yourself surrounded by amazingly energetic people like you, who have a great idea and think that anything is possible…

SmileZ genuinely started off when me and some friends who work in tech were discussing whether we could we find a fun way to help people say thank you and check-in with each other during lockdown. Cards weren’t an option for many as you couldn’t get outside to buy one, post one – digital card websites are brilliant and solve part of that, but what if you don’t have their address? What if you don’t want to spend £3-4?

By the time we’d worked out the tech, we were so far in we just thought we’d give it a whirl. Certainly, ‘difficult times’ can help focus the mind and you can spend weeks and months procrastinating and fine tuning every element of a new website, product or service or you can just jump in with what you’ve got and commit to fixing the plane as you take flight.  For us – it was the latter. We had nothing to lose really so just went for it.

Now of course, we’re peddling like mad and working furiously behind the scenes to make it better each day, whether that be the UX or the content on the site. Social media engagement has been really positive in a very short space of time, the challenge now is to retain people’s interest and keep making the site fun to use, give them a reason to keep coming back and delight them with a better and better experience each time they do.

Working with people I’d never met face to face.

We were already aligned in terms of ambition and an impatience to see SmileZ succeed so the key things were to establish trust in each other and team roles asap. However – when you’re working at pace, you also need to leverage that very same trust to ask for help and let people help you. There is no time to sit on problems.

We would agree daily priorities by meeting each morning – have check ins throughout the day to help problem solve quickly and a close of play catch up to share successes and make decisions. There is absolutely no room or time for ego, bullshit or waffle. You just have to get stuck in, take feedback on the nose and deliver. My idea of work heaven if I’m honest.

The whole lockdown rules of working  / or rather no rules… means people get to know the real you very quickly. The Kate with no make up and gym kit on at the first 8am meeting of the day; the Kate making sure her kids are on the live school lessons randomly throughout the day; the Kate at 6:30pm trying to cook her kids tea whilst agreeing key steps for development ; and the Kate with a massive glass of wine in her hand pulling her hair out at 10pm!

This helps enormously with trust and empathy, it allows people to support you, you can see where your colleagues need some space or support.

But also, by knowing what people’s home set up is, you have to be mindful of that when planning teams comms. No one should feel bad for not being able to make a meeting because of what they’re also responsible for at home and I definitely think everyone’s become a lot more empathic during lockdown to each others situation.

Teams work smoothly at home or face-to-face when there is a shared ambition, everyone knows each other’s strengths, what they’re accountable for and there is a clear path for delivery.

These apply as much during lockdown as they did before or will do after.

Imagine what you can achieve as a team if you can launch a business under these circumstances? Sky’s the limit.

Kate Bosomworth HeadshotAbout the author

An energetic, collaborative and entrepreneurial agency founder, marketeer and Commercial Director, Kate Bosomworth started SmileZ in May 2020 and has worked in brand and rights holder sponsorship, marketing and communications for over twenty years.

SmileZ is the first mobile platform of its kind, allowing customers to send paper-free, personalised digital greeting cards straight to someone’s mobile. SmileZ collaborates with some of the UK’s largest card designers and most talented illustrators to offer a wide range of galleries. SmileZ is a new application of existing technologies that intends to digitalise long-established behaviours around card sending.


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Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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