They say that bad times can bring out either the best or worst in people. In the case of Elise Edwards, it brought out the desire to help others by helping them navigate a world stained by Covid-19 better.
When the pandemic hit, Elise, much like most of us, found herself jumping from one website to the next, trying to find relevant information she could use to understand what was happening better. Finally getting tired of all the endless scrolling, she thought of building a community where people can share firsthand learnings–so that others may be guided.
And thus, Six Feet Apart was born. A community-slash-resource site for anything Covid-19 related, from education, home management, exercise, sports, even travel and lifestyle.
Elise gave me the honor of interviewing her so that we could tell the world more about Six Feet Apart as part of our Purpose and Passion in Harmony Series. Below are highlights from our exchange.
What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Simple, we saw a need that wasn’t being addressed. Across the globe, when Covid-19 hit, everyone was thrust into a world of uncertainty and panic. Grocery stores were emptying out, sanitizer became a precious commodity and restaurants, gyms, and schools all shut down overnight. My daughter’s teacher went back to the classroom a month later and said it looked like Pompeii. Books and pencils sitting on desks as if kids would run right back in to pick them up. There were so many unanswered questions and like many, I found myself scouring the internet, typing the “coronavirus”, “pandemic” and other words into Google. I spent so much
time trying to figure everything out, from a new exercise routine to a proper virtual classroom setup to questions on impending travel and trying to envision what this new normal looked like.
I thought we could all save ourselves a lot of time and energy if we brought useful information from real people navigating this uncertainty and compiled into one place.
How are you making a positive difference in the world?
The best compliment that we hear over and over is that the site feels like a community. At a time of distance, it is a place to feel more connected and less alone. We chose our slogan of “Closer, Together” very purposefully, because in a world where we were being told to be 6 feet apart, we wanted to show that physical distance didn’t have to mean social distance.
There’s no politics involved, it’s just about our “new normal” and how to best navigate it. We have experts in a number of fields such as fitness, healthcare, work life and education writing about how their lives have changed, as well as people simply learning, pivoting and sharing what has helped them get them through this period of time. When you’re on the site, you really see that everyone’s had to adjust in one way or another and we’re all really in this together. There is something comforting about knowing that while our stories are different, they share some common ground.
What has been the greatest positive impact you have seen on your clients’ or customers’ faces from working directly with you?
People want to share their stories. We have not had any trouble accumulating content because as people figure things out, they’re eager to use that information to help others. Features on exercises for stress relief and tips on running a company virtually have been really well received. One story that really struck me was from the mother of a child with disabilities. With all of her outside help cut off during the pandemic, she reached out to us to help her find a caregiver and give her some relief.
Another was written by a researcher who along with a photographer friend, documented the stories of families quarantining together. Connecting with others in this time of distance has been incredibly powerful.
What does a purpose-driven business mean to you?
Being a purpose driven-business means that the mission matters to us more than profit. We didn’t start this business to make money, we started it to help and address what we viewed as a real need. We are obviously looking at ways to help it become self-sustaining as opposed to continuing to self-fund, but right now sharing high quality and relevant content to help us all deal with these challenging times is priority number one. Each time we get positive feedback and people reach out to say they learned something and love what we are doing, it makes it all worthwhile.
How did you pivot your business during the pandemic?
Ha! Well, we didn’t have a business at the start of the pandemic, so our pivot was to create one. When we first launched, we were asked about our longevity because all of this would soon be over, right? It was clear early on that that was not going to be the case. My kids have been out of school for nine months now. We are on the verge of acquiring vaccines, but it is going to be some time before they’re distributed. Then there are the psychological effects which unfortunately, aren’t going to magically disappear. Some people will never feel comfortable heading back into
a crowded theatre or stadium. Movie theatres may not survive. Workplace culture is evolving. Some employees will be shifting their career paths to work from home more or travel less.
Furthermore, we don’t know what the long-term effects of Covid-19 are yet. We still face a long road of fallout and transition. At the end of the day, 6 Feet Apart isn’t just about the pandemic, but about what the new normal looks like, whatever form or shape that may take. The content on the site is classic and timeless.
Whether there is a pandemic or not, information on the best setup for a home office, virtual ways to connect with friends and family or how and why a new business was created will live well beyond this time and maintain relevance.
What are your top 5 tips to scale a business or use social media to attract new clients?
- Be Authentic: People want to work with companies whose stories are meaningful, whose work matters and whose mission resonates. Whether it’s companies with a deep heritage and history of craftsmanship or new companies who saw a genuine need and stepped into solve it, authenticity creates a relevancy and something for the consumer to sink their heart and mind. This is especially true for social media where people can sense if you are mailing it in instead of sharing great and thoughtful content.
- You are just as defined by what you don’t do: Don’t try to be everything to everyone. It’s a recipe for death by a thousand cuts for a company. Focusing on your core competency and the ability to say “no” to something that might sound like a great idea but is out of your wheelhouse will help you crystallize what you need to accomplish each day that you show up to work (even if you aren’t leaving your house!).
- Create a business about something more than you: The more you can build a business around an issue or a problem that needs solving, and conversely, the less you can make it a cult of personality about the founder or a single person, the more extensible the business will be. In addition, create a business that works even when you can’t through leveraging technology that keeps things running even while you may be sleeping or working out or on vacation in Hawaii enjoying a fancy drink with a tiny umbrella in it.
- Great leaders make themselves irrelevant: We have always wanted to create businesses that end up managing themselves. Many entrepreneurs want to control every aspect of the company or business. Our mantra has been the opposite. Hire great people that buy into the vision and culture and then let them loose on creating value and making their job their own. Invest in developing their talent. We subscribe to the fact that as servant leaders, we are there to ensure everyone else has the mentoring, coaching and resources to do their work and grow. We don’t want to do their jobs for them.
- What’s the story? At the end of the day, business is about great storytelling. How do you hire the best team, sign up great partners, or lure investors? Give them a story they feel compelled to be a part of. Stories can be told over a broad variety of mediums in business. Websites, annual reports, investor decks and social media are all just avenues and opportunities to share your businesses story. It’s wonderful that when your story is intriguing enough, others want to share it for you.
Where can people learn more?
You can find us at:
- Website: https://6feet.com
- Instagram: @6feetdotcom
- Twitter: @6FTAprt
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SixFtApart
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/6feetapart
Purpose and Passion in Harmony is a series of articles that give purpose-driven entrepreneurs who have something unique to offer a chance to shine. The goal is to inspire others who wish to build businesses to find the drive to just go for it. It is my hope that these articles create a positive impact on the lives of readers all over the world.