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 thelockdowns as opportunities to future fit and develop their businesses further.
Over the last couple of months we have been interviewing some of these businesses and sharing some of the positivity and good news that we see.
This week we are talking with Steven Rice -from Big Wheel.
Tell us about your pre pandemic Business status
SR: Big Wheel Marketing Middle East was established in the UAE in 2015, and developed a large portfolio of clients across multiple sectors. The company was founded by Steven Rice, who is originally from Newcastle Co.Down – as Big Wheel became more established in the Middle East and Steven started to spend more time back in Ireland, he eventually set-up a sister agency (Big Wheel marketing Ltd) to cover the Irish and wider European markets. Big Wheel Marketing Ltd was founded in February 2020 and is based in Drogheda.
What was the initial impact on your business & how did you react?
SR: The timing of the company set-up – literally 3 weeks before the first major lockdown – coupled with the rapid shift towards digital as a result of the pandemic, resulted in Big Wheel becoming established a growing its presence in Ireland much more quickly than could have been expectedin pre-Covid times. Also, we were able to achieve our initial growth with zero outside investment or borrowing. A key factor in the speed of growth was being based in Drogheda and being able to tap into the excellent supports and networking opportunities afforded by the Chamber of Commerce and other groups in the area.
What changes did you make in order to cope or pivot / and to adapt to the situation?
SR: Our business in Ireland has pivoted towards full digital management – we offer a full service offering which incorporates front-end platform development, back-end system optimisation for e-commerce, and supporting digital marketing channels. The ability to offer a full-serviceproduct provides a USP compared to other digital companies, most of whom in Ireland offer excellent knowledge, skill and insights however tend to be siloed in specific areas of expertise. Big Wheel’s full 260 degree knowledge and ability to provide a full digital end-to-end service is our key point of difference.
What supports, grants, aids helped the most?
SR: We have successfully supported several companies on their applications for the Enterprise Ireland online retail scheme, which has been a great success in helping SME retailers to develop a strong future foundation for the changing world of retail from traditional to digital. We have also availed of the trading online voucher and business continuity voucher schemes on behalf of our clients.
How are you feeling about business as we begin to plan to emerge from the lockdowns, and as vaccinations roll out?
SR: I feel a sense of positivity that there is now light at the end of the tunnel not just for businesses but for our country and people ingeneral, however I also think there is a large-shake-out still to happen in different sectors before we can truly assess how the business land is going to lie. Tourism, hospitality and aviation are still suffering badly and the degree of permanent damage to these and other sectors is still largely undetermined in my view. From a personal perspective, I feel privileged and very lucky that the digital space we have operated in for a long time pre-Covid hasnow become a mainstay for businesses of all types. I also feel a certain sense of responsibility to generously share our company’s knowledge to help non-digital businesses get up to speed with the new digital world – most business areas have not been as fortunate as those in the digital space, where the pandemic has helped rather than hindered business.
Finally … What's your top piece of advice for otherbusinesses?
SR: My advice to other businesses is pretty straight forward– balance detail with strategy, be brave, take calculated risks, and always be nice!
If you'd like to be featured in this series - We'dlove to hear from you
@Drogheda & District Chamber.