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Celebrating local - Post lockdown interview


Pleased to be part of the Total Guide to Swindon's campaign for celebrating local businesses and reflecting on business post lockdown.


By Barrie Smale, director of I2L Ltd t/as Inspired2learn which is a training & development specialising in CMI management & leadership qualifications and ILM coaching & mentoring qualifications. We also do executive coaching and coach supervision.

How are you feeling about your business?  

Very positive. The first two months after the initial social distancing and then lockdown started were undoubtedly very worrying. We are now seeing business pick up and our existing clients have been appreciative about how we have continued to meet their needs during this period. This will hopefully build some loyalty and referrals!

How are you feeling about business in general? 

Many businesses of all sizes are in extreme difficulty and this is very sad. We’ve not seen the end of this yet by any means, and we are not immune. The future is going to look different but none of us really know how different yet. Staying flexible, adaptable and working hard is going to be key for businesses to survive and ultimately for the economy to prosper.

Tell us three ways in which you now apply this phrase to your business and/or life ‘buy local supply local’. 

  1. For business, all of our key suppliers are local companies: IT support, website, marketing, printing, copying and accountancy. 
  2. We do not have as many local clients as we would like. For our services, we will always need to target clients across a wide geographic area (UK and overseas), both B2B and B2C in order to remain viable. 
  3. Personally, we continue to purchase a whole range of things locally whenever possible. 

What has changed for you positively as a result of lockdown? 

We have enhanced our capacity for working from home and this will continue indefinitely. There’s always a knock-on effect though – e.g. not good news for commercial landlords if many others do the same.

Tell us what, for you, makes a ‘good’ local business.  

A lot of things that apply to any business. I would single out strong customer focus, reliability and integrity.

Can you name a local business which you support around food & drink? 

Times Square in Devizes Market Place - https://devizes-times-square.ueniweb.com

Can you name a local business which you support around health, wellbeing or fitness? 

Hatt Health & Movement Clinic, Devizes when I get injured! - https://www.hattclinic.co.uk

Can you shout out to two of your local clients? 

  1. Bath ASU, Corsham - which manufactures thousands of life-changing pharmaceutical products every week, serving customers and their patients nationwide - https://bathasu.com
  2. Dorothy House Hospice Care - support for people with a life-limiting illness - https://www.dorothyhouse.org.uk

Can you shout out to three local suppliers you wish to celebrate? 

  1. CW Consulting, Devizes – marketing support  - https://www.cwconsultingmarketing.com 
  2. Office Evolution Ltd., Melksham – printing and copying - https://www.officeevo.co.uk
  3. Excalibur, Swindon – IT support - https://www.excaliburcomms.co.uk

Can you name one person who has really helped your business during this time? 

Not one single person, but definitely our team of associates who have adapted readily and just got on with it to help us keep services as normal as possible for our clients.

Can you name one person in your life who has really helped you during this time? 

Sounds cheesy, but my wife and business partner, Clare Smale. I can always rely on her support and her ability to see the sunny side in my glass half empty moments. 

What are your business plans for Q4? 

Q4 for us will be Jan-March 2021. By then we aim to be motoring and back to our pre-Covid levels at least. Hopefully, we will have a new partner in our business as part of our succession planning.

Any special offers you’d like to mention? 

We’re trying to make our services more affordable in this uncertain time. For individuals paying out of their own pocket, we are absorbing VAT (a big saving) and offering even more flexible payment plans. 

Parting thought? 

Good luck everyone. I’m not really a fan of slogans but I did recently see a suggestion of the ‘new better’ rather then the ‘new normal’. I prefer the former.

Source: Total Guide to Swindon

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25 Davies Drive
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