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Welcome to this second episode of “Lockdown Lessons”

If someone had said a year ago that businesses and households across the entire planet would be forced to go into lockdown en masse due to a “flu virus” most of us would have laughed them out of the room or at least created some (social?) distance from them….

Fast forward to Spring 2020 and that is exactly what happened. At one point in late March, apparently, more than a third of the globe’s 7.8bn population was holed up at home due to Covid 19. The scale has been unimaginable and for those thousands of poor souls who have lost their lives during this pandemic the emotional impact will be felt for many, many years to come.

From an environmental perspective the lockdown has undoubtedly been beneficial due to a major drop in industry and emissions. However, for most businesses  its commercial impact has been devastating; for small businesses such as mine, HW Language Services, it has been really tough to stay motivated and emotionally strong some days when clients had to suspend our language courses and new, future opportunities were put on hold or lost completely.

So, given the choice between back to back Netflix bingeing in my pyjamas and finding ways to somehow motivate myself and my business during this strange chapter in our lives, I chose the latter. I have found a number of ways to stay positive and hopefully future proof my business; so here is my very own motivational tool – “PRACTICE”

Participate – so many networks are offering the opportunity to “introduce and meet” businesses from either within specific industries/sectors or regions. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to introduce my business to others and learn about what others are doing too. I may not see any immediate financial benefits, but it does boost my self esteem, raises my company profile and has improved my cross-sector knowledge. It is also a good reason to ditch the pjs and get dressed and brush my (overgrown) hair and teeth.

Relate – you are not alone in these challenging times; our customers, staff and associates all have their own challenges and stuff going on right now so take the time to take notice. I have taken the opportunity to check in with customers for a virtual coffee or just to listen to their home-schooling horror stories – it is worthwhile  to share experiences that you can each relate to. I always feel better afterwards and it definitely helps to strengthen relationships too.

Appreciate  – I have really used this time to make a mental inventory and stocktake the international business development and language skills and experience that I have accumulated over the last 25 years. I have asked myself whether I can share them or use them differently to benefit not only my business but also others. It is a real mood booster when you can share and help others out and has been a great way to consolidate different modules of my  business and pin down where they can be targeted in the longer term.

Collaborate/communicate – the very fact that I am creating this blog as a means to communicate and collaborate with others is something I can’t always find the time to do. During lockdown I have been able to  plan and schedule collaboration and communication time which, by getting my thoughts out instead of them festering and causing anxiety or uncertainty,  has helped my well-being and motivation. It has also brought a few new clients and associates on board so not only cathartic but also commercially beneficial.

Tolerate – I acknowledge that I am only in control of a certain number of things ; for the many situations outside of my control, especially now, I am making a deliberate decision to be simply tolerant, cautious and aware. By focusing on what I can control and planning my activities accordingly I am achieving small wins and have seen real progress against my to-do list. This keeps me motivated, strategic and brings some structure in this wholly unstructured chapter we are living through. If I try to consider the bigger picture of what is going on around us right now it would turn my head to mush.

Innovate – My business offer, due to my international sales experience in a broad spectrum of industry sectors,  fortunately appeals to a number of target audiences. I have been able to innovate and develop some new online, bitesize language modules for new clients which I plan to expand upon post COVID 19. This is something I have been meaning to do for a long time so I am really chuffed that I have made a decent start on this and have received amazingly positive feedback from clients so far.

Celebrate with Chocolate – there is enough going on around us that is shocking and heart-breaking and worrying so when I find new opportunities or get great client feedback it is really important to celebrate. My drug of choice would be chocolate – probably washed down with a glug of red wine – it definitely lifts my mood and won’t break the bank. Be sure to congratulate yourself and don’t be shy to tell the world about what a great job you did.

Educate – As a linguist I am constantly learning – new languages, new vocabulary and new grammar – I love it!. During this lockdown period I have also learned in many other areas – thanks to several programmes from either local authorities, social enterprises such as @CosmicUK or business community groups I have signed up to many online workshops which will help my business productivity, focus, digital skills, collaborations and networks as well as a potential pipeline of future clients when the time and economic conditions improve. Learning is such a positive mood enhancer – especially if I am munching some decent chocolate at the time too.

I hope that you enjoyed this second episode of “Lockdown Lessons”

Keep safe, feel free to try out my “PRACTICE” motivational tool within your business and let me know how you get on.

For any comments or questions please feel free to get in touch



Thanks, enjoy your chocolate

Hayley Wallbank

MD of HW Language Services

HW Language Services and its subsidiary KidsLinguaKlub provide online and face to face foreign language training and tuition to businesses, trade associations, private individuals and students.

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