We're all a bit fatigued after a full year of the Pandemic. There's been so much bad news everywhere we turn.
The team here at Drogheda Chamber have supported and celebrated the resilience, creativity and courage of our entrepreneurs over the last year. And now it's time to celebrate those that have been nimble in adapting to the changing situation. Those that have pivoted. That have used the lockdowns as opportunities to future fit and develop their businesses further.
Over the coming weeks we will interview some of these businesses and share some of the positivity and good news that we see.
This week we are talking with Niamh Pentony - from Boyne Ergonomics.
Tell us about your pre pandemic Business status
NP: The business was launched in June 2019. I would visit businesses and work sites, completing face to face ergonomic risk assessments of employee workstations and work areas. I also carried out eye assessments on employees that use computers to identify those that require glasses for computer use.
What was the initial impact on your business & how did you react?
NP: From 19th March 2020 all onsite work was cancelled. My work diary was emptied. As the children were going to be off school for the “4 weeks” (as we initially thought), I was not too concerned. I figured I would take the 4 weeks off too and get back to work as normal from mid-April. When it became clear that this was not going to blow over quickly, I began to look for ways to adapt my business, in particular the way I do assessments. I looked to see if they could be done without a face to face visit. I also signed up for some LEO courses to learn more about running a business during the pandemic.
What changes did you make in order to cope or pivot / and to adapt to the situation?
NP: My whole business model has changed since March 2020. While onsite visits are returning, the majority of my assessments are now done virtually, over video platforms, and on employees working from home. I work with employers to ensure they are adequately supporting their home-based employees. I also do webinars and talks with companies about reducing the physical, psychological and emotional risks associated with working from home.
I am more active on social media now. I regularly post tips and advice for people to help address common issues that arise. I engage with local groups and have found support networks that I did not have pre-Covid.
What supports, grants, aids helped the most?
NP: I joined Network Ireland’s Louth Branch in February 2020 and have found them an invaluable resource and support during the last 14 months.
The Louth Enterprise Office were quick off the mark and set up a course in March 2020 on managing your business during Covid. This course provided the tools to help adapt the business for the online marketplace. Through the LEO I was assigned a mentor, the wonderful Gaye Moore form Rise Branding, who helped me develop a social media presence.
How are you feeling about business as we begin to plan to emerge from the lockdowns, and as vaccinations roll out?
NP: I am optimistic for a return to an altered level of normality. For my own business, I am already seeing an increase in requests for site visits and face to face assessments. I expect the rest of 2021 to be a 50/50 split between virtual assessments and webinars and onsite assessments.
Finally … What's your top piece of advice for other businesses?
NP: Don’t be afraid of change. It is great to have a 1, 3, 5 year business plan but you have to be flexible to the needs of your customer base.
If you'd like to be featured in this series - We'd love to hear from you @Drogheda & District Chamber.