Lockdown: A Catalyst for Entrepreneurship
Times are tough and this is no mere British under-statement. As we are all too acutely aware of, there have been real lows across all spheres of life (business, social, political, economic) as a result of lockdown measures. However, allow me to shed some light on the business highs.
The UK is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and boy is that being put to good use now. The “spirit” has not been eroded or squashed, quite the reverse. A unique set of circumstances created by the lockdown period has helped many wannabe entrepreneurs take the leap of faith.
Creativity is booming and individuals are blossoming with captivating ideas. Individuals from all walks of life are homing in: – ranging from the more digitalized tech driven minded aspiring entrepreneur to the more entrepreneurial novice who may have only ever wildly dreamt of creating an entrepreneurial business.
According to analysis conducted and published by O2 Business in July 2020, a massive 190,555 companies had been started up in the UK since the UK went into its first lockdown on March 24th, 2020 until the month of June 2020 which covers the survey period.
A rise in entrepreneurialism in the fine food sector stems from the light the pandemic shed on our health. Many entrepreneurs have fostered a “profound reconnection with nature, the planet and their physical and emotional health” during lockdown. People have started to think more about what they put into their bodies, how food is prepared and its origins. It has ignited the imagination for many new food and drink products and services to be created.
Raising a sustainability profile has been an added impetus drive for some. THE WOOD LIFE PROJECT entails replacing everyday plastic items with beautifully designed, eco-friendly, British made wooden products. The business was launched by a husband and wife team prior to lockdown in 2019. Before the lockdown period the team was supplying to 45 key retailers in the UK. New potential orders with some large UK retailer prospects came to a sudden halt during lockdown.
Under lock-down, they decided to focus their efforts on on-line sales via their website and other on-line market places where they worked on blogs and social media platforms to drive sales and grow brand awareness. In their words, a crucial element was that they made use of this downtime to show their commitment to supporting sustainable businesses.
They found a way to run their business more openly, more transparently and with more accountability from both social and environmental perspectives without these additional elements detracting from their profitability.
Just like the pandemic, entrepreneurship does not discriminate. The lady behind the creation of THE BLACK DEMENTIA COMPANY started her first business venture at the age of 52. During the lockdown period she lost her job as a community education coordinator and then became a full-time care worker for her mother who sadly suffers from dementia.
She noticed that there was a gap in the market for dementia care aids with cultural symbols (as a means of stimulating the memory) and aimed at people who have grown up in different cultural environments & households (which in her case was Afro-Caribbean). Her on-line business surrounds conceiving, creating and selling these symbolic aids. Last year (2020) she commissioned puzzle-makers and hired illustrators and printers to make colouring-in-books. Her on-line web shop went live last October 2020.
And, at the other scale of the spectrum, let’s not forget the youth, even teenage youth. The company PLATINUM LIVE is a PR & Communications company set up to help local firms (in Cumbria, England) maximize their digital potential. The brains behind the creation of this company is a forward-thinking 17-year-old boy. He started up his business officially in March 2020, during the first national lockdown, and his business has flourished ever since.
In addition, there has been a recent surge in young graduates taking the plunge in setting up entrepreneurial business ventures. Two Cardiff University graduates who launched their own virtual reality company for the education, property and retail sector created the company VIRTUS TECH, a B2B company which uses virtual and augmented reality to tour universities, retailers and home properties, blending real and digital experiences.
They set up their business during pre-covid times (in 2018) and then during lockdown they showed resilience by making adaptions to their product application and services whilst also introducing a new service which uses machine learning and image recognition allowing clients to gain greater user experience/insights with their tour.
A key adaption was the creation of VR tours which in turn inspired the talented duo to design their own tour customization platform. They can now even modestly boast that the UK’s largest bespoke virtual tour for an education establishment (University of Wales) was built by VIRTUS TECH.
It is not beyond reason to conclude that the entrepreneurship drive is here to stay and will continue to gather further pace and momentum during lockdown ins and outs.