'We had about £180,000 worth of business pretty much evaporate in two hours'

In light of all this stuff, we’re trying to figure how we can still be here in a year’s time.

That is the stark reality of how coronavirus is not only affecting people’s lives physically and mentally, but their livelihoods too.

Pop Up Business School is the brainchild of Simon Paine and Alan Donegan. Since being founded in 2011, it has gone from strength to strength, offering advice, knowledge and guidance to those at the start of their own business venture. That was until recently, when, just like so many other businesses, Pop Up felt the impact of the recent pandemic.

A couple of days before the lock-down happened, we had about £180,000 worth of business, which was our events calendar for the summer, pretty much evaporate in the space of about two hours," Simon said.

"We were staring down the face of the virus lock-down thinking ‘obviously the first thing we want to do is protect our business, and we’re seeing postponements rather than a cancellation, but also who knows how long this thing is going to go on for?’ We were faced with a few big decisions to make over the first few days.”

One of the decisions they made, wasn’t based on themselves. Despite growing concerns about how to fund his own business in the upcoming months, Simon chose to focus his energy on everybody else.

“I spent about two hours rocking gently in the corner of my kitchen on that Monday afternoon. But by the evening, I felt in a really good place, and I had a very positive mindset. A plan started to form in my mind and then on Tuesday morning, I woke up before the alarm clock. I woke up at half five, put on the gym kit, went for a run which is unusual for me.

“Looking back, I was probably in shock and we do weird things when we’re in shock don’t we? But I’ve never felt so energised and so excited about my own business. It sounds like a really curious thing to say but the very first thing that came into my head that morning was, ‘we need to help people as quickly as we can because all the people we’ve trained over the last few years, they are going to be panicking. They are going to be worrying, thinking, what the hell are we going to do?' So we need to be there for them.“

Simon and his team got their thinking hats on and chose to give their expert knowledge away for free.

“We decided to create the Pop Up Business Survival Guide. I suspect we’ll rename that pretty soon. It needs to be a ‘thrive-al’ guide and not just about survival. What we’re doing is we’re putting lots and lots of content through there, which is all about how to think about your business, how to pivot, how to look after your health, your mental well being and how to look after your finances because money is at the forefront of everybody’s mind whether you’ve got a business or not.

“Then through the live streams on Facebook, (which are running on Tuesday and Thursday’s at 9pm), we’ve got different guests coming on and if you miss the live stream, then it’ll be on the survival guide as a download to watch. We’re shaping the live streams and we are shaping the blog content and the survival guide to the questions people are asking and the challenges that they are facing.

“Because we’re a small business, we can actually respond to people’s questions and challenges in real time, and if something changed tomorrow, then the next live stream would address that issue for businesses and for entrepreneurs and freelancers that are watching what we’re doing. Engage with us because we can answer the questions that you’re asking and if we haven’t done so already, tell us, and we’ll create the episode that talks to exactly the point that you’re needing help with.”

Really, we shouldn’t be surprised by Pop Up Business School’s generosity. They’ve got nine years of providing their expertise to budding entrepreneurs, without ever charging them a penny.

“No-one has ever paid to come to a Pop Up Business School, either online or in real life because we’ve got a sponsorship model, we get our money from elsewhere. So, you can absolutely guarantee that our motivation is just for the people we’re trying to help.

"We’re not trying to sell a product, we’re not trying to sell you a loan or a bank account or a training course for five grand that you don’t really want. We don’t do any of that stuff because we don’t need to. We are just here to help as many people as we can. I think there is great opportunity coming, so be ready, and let us help you.”

If you’d like to take advantage of the vast range of knowledge and guidance on offer from Pop Up Business School, you can visit their website at https://www.popupbusinessschool.co.uk/, where you can also find their survival guide.

Plus, on a Tuesday and a Thursday at 9pm, tune into their live stream on Facebook (@PopUpBusinessSchool) to have your questions answered.

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