From miniature veg patches to online dog training and meal kits, innovative small businesses across the UK have been adapting to the pandemic.
In February 2021, Vodafone UK announced that it was on the search for inspiring small businesses that have adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic by boldly going online.
That search has ended and, after reviewing a wealth of entries, 10 stand-out firms are due to receive a social media marketing boost from Vodafone.
The social media marketing campaigns across Facebook and Instagram will be funded by Vodafone, giving each business exposure to a national audience. The selected businesses will also have access to expert guidance from Vodafone UK’s V-Hub advisers to support their future online plans.
The 10 winning small businesses come from across the UK and work in a diverse array of industries and markets.
AllotMe started out as a green-fingered networking site, pairing people with spare garden space to those waiting fruitlessly for allotments. Once the pandemic made such face-to-face partnerships inadvisable for the time being, the company pivoted to a whole new product. The GrowPod is a compact planter that enables people to grow their own vegetables. The GrowPod doesn’t even need soil, as it uses hydroponics.
Like many restaurateurs and caterers, chef Danny Jack had to adapt his business swiftly as the pandemic made eating out impossible. Jack didn’t just pivot to dishes suitable for dispatch by post as meal kits, he also organised all the online assets needed to promote and sell them – the website, online store, social media competitions, email newsletters and even advertising on neighbourhood forum site Nextdoor.
Training rambunctious pet mutts remotely over the internet sounds impossible, but Essex Dog Training is doing exactly that. Depending on the subject matter, some lesson plans are backed up by videos and live consultations by video chat. It’s no shaggy dog story.
When their street food business came to a shuddering halt, Juici Jerk didn’t just turn to delivering meal kits direct to people’s homes, they used an alternative online ordering system, bypassing the hefty commissions charged by Deliveroo and UberEats so they could keep more of their hard-earned cash.
My VIP Card’s mission to encourage more people to shop at small, local businesses with its discount and loyalty card schemes has expanded from Hampshire to the rest of the UK. From launching app-based ‘cards’ to advising businesses on best practices through Zoom, My VIP Card isn’t just surviving the pandemic, it’s thriving.
Educating wee tykes about music through video chat sounds daunting, but Noise Makers makes it seem almost easy. It’s anything but effortless though, with meticulous planning and studious studio work going into the lesson plans, pre-recorded sessions and live Zoom classes.
Play Makes Sense is an online business in every sense. Not only does it sell its phonics activity cards through its website, it has an Instagram-based community to support parents and kids. And the founders have never even met face-to-face yet! They hooked up through Instagram and then cooked up their start-up entirely online, working remotely using not just Google Docs but also depending on Vodafone’s 5G network as an alternative to home broadband.
Once the pandemic put a downer on its sales through high street shops, Positive News switched purely to selling copies directly to their readers. Combined with an online crowdfunding campaign to distribute free copies to NHS staff, Positive News has actually managed to increase their sales during the pandemic.
While many of us have taken up baking to pass the time during lockdown, that hasn’t stopped Scrumbles Cake Shop from rapidly expanding its business.
It quickly graduated from its first, basic website to one with an online store. Scrumbles is now looking for new premises and to double their workforce.
WeeCook, a restaurant in Angus just outside Dundee, has not only managed to avoid laying off its staff during these tough times, but has also kept on its apprentices. It managed this notable feat by focusing on the breakout hits of its wide-ranging menu: pies. Efforts such as online cookery classes and discounts for NHS staff have led to a boom in orders, keeping the staff busy as they make, promote, pack and ship their pies all across Scotland.
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