Interview with An Swinnen On Going Back to Basics
Going Back To Basics
An Swinnen is a qualified teacher and psychotherapist. She runs BECS, an award-winning training company with offices in Paignton and London, specialising in customised business, management and mental health courses. An is also the Managing Director of Rasson Properties Ltd, which owns holiday lets in Spain and England.
How are you coping with the lockdown?
My company BECS has furloughed me, so I am getting paid whilst not working for the first time in my career. I think a lot of people in Devon are in this position as we are so dependent on tourism and 0-hour contracts. I am coping very well, especially as Cafe Tutto in Paignton has just reopened for takeaway coffee!! I enjoy being at home instead of living out of a suitcase. The lockdown allows me to take time out, enjoy my garden and plan for the future.
Can you give us some business tips?
I think we need to go back to basics and pretend our businesses are start-ups again. It is important to have an updated business plan. What are your assets? How can you make them work for you? I know that I should focus on promoting my mental health books, the events and the talks that do not cost as much as weekly therapist sessions.
Currently we cannot control our business-related income, but we can reduce our outgoings. I have contacted our suppliers and reduced our bills drastically. I was always too busy to look into cheaper alternatives. The trick is to phone your supplier and say that you are thinking of leaving them because of their high prices. They will offer new deals immediately. I have managed price reductions of 50-75% with BT, EE, AXA, Sky, AA, RAC and British Gas. In Spain Orange and Vodafone refused to lower their internet prices so I have switched to Olivenet which is saving me a lot of money.
It is very important that you have a presence on social media. Social media is free and if used wisely, allows you to reach a lot of people. You need to let everyone know that you are still out there and that your business will survive the lockdown. Your friends and family can help with this. Their support is also free and you cannot beat word of mouth advertising.
Can you give us some mental health tips?
It is very normal to feel depressed, anxious or angry right now because we are surrounded by news of death and economic hardship. Our primitive brain kicks in to protect us but unfortunately, this brain is very negative and is convinced we will die of the coronavirus. The trick is to switch to our intellectual brain which is very positive and comes up with creative ideas and solutions. The intellectual brain knows that only 2-4 % of infected patients die and comes up with a plan. Try not to watch the news, especially the 22:00 news as it may disrupt your sleep.
Be careful with some of the mental health tips that you see on television and the internet. There is a lot of incorrect information out there. At the back of my book “The Mental Health Survival Guide (Because It’s A Jungle Out There)” which was featured in the Western Morning News, I have listed useful websites of reliable support organisations such as nhs.uk/oneyou and mind.org.uk.
What are your future plans?
I would like Rasson Properties Ltd to expand into France. I am researching Antibes on the Cote d’Azur and its property prices.
I miss working with children. I would love to teach them about mental health and how they can feel happier and healthier.
For more information go to www.answinnen.com.