In the early days of the Covid lockdown it was genuinely shocking (but not altogether surprising) to see the number of appointments made on Smoothbook drop off about 90% in a matter of days – mainly the result of closed gyms, yoga and pilates studios. We all know the uncertainty, stress and fear of those days – many of us still do. I’ve said it before but it was a genuine inspiration to me how so many people refused to give up on their businesses and students: adapted and moved things online or outdoors, just kept moving forward under crazy circumstances.
I know that many businesses in the yoga / fitness sector (and many others) have not survived Covid. Not to put too fine a point on it but I’ve experienced severe business and financial stress myself as an entrepreneur (I was at the sharp end of that other ‘once in a lifetime’ financial crisis: the 2008 financial crash). I really feel for the many people who are in trouble at the moment.
But, as a result of those experiences, I also learned that things always move on; the world keeps on turning and so I hope that people will take it as an optimistic sign that, certainly in terms of Smoothbook bookings, things are approaching where they were pre-Covid and climbing every day. Gyms, yoga and pilates studios are re-opening – in whatever shape or form; summer is here; people are desperate to get fit and healthy and to re-connect after months cooped up indoors. There is opportunity and reason for optimism here! (One thing I’ve noticed: if there’s any way you can get your class outdoors – to a park / garden or whatever, these are *really* popular).
Smoothbook will no longer be completely free
Smoothbook is a business and (like most of you) I’m an entrepreneur: it was always on the cards that Smoothbook was going to be charged for, and that’s as it should be. It has been very rewarding to receive such goodwill over the years and watch people grow their businesses using Smoothbook (some very successfully indeed – I watched one fitness instructor in Ireland go from himself to three large, separate gym locations with many different classes).
But there’s a lack of accountability and being held to a higher standard when things are free: people really give you the benefit of the doubt and expect less. And I want Smoothbook to grow and succeed: to improve as a service and increase the ways it’s useful to it’s users. To have better support. All of which takes resources – which are expensive where software is concerned. Over the last three years or so I’ve managed this by doing the work myself and living very cheaply (and, it must be said, very happily) as a ‘digital nomad’ in South-East Asia.
So this is the next stage of the project for Smoothbook. It’s challenging and it’s out of my comfort zone; the territory is quite unknown. The competition is big and well funded; success is far from assured. I’m sure many of you have experienced this feeling: it’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.
Best wishes to everyone – wherever you are in your journey at this crazy time.