Five inspiring entrepreneurs share advice for starting up in a pandemic
A new report published by Harper James Solicitors explores how new entrepreneurs have adapted to the challenges and opportunities that have been thrown at them during 2020 as they have started their businesses in a pandemic. PR Manager, Nick Owens, shares five of his favourite inspiring stories from the report.
Thousands of new businesses are setting up during the pandemic, analysis has revealed. Nearly half a million companies have set up between March and September 2020 in the UK. That’s an increase of over 44,500 additional companies when compared to the same period in 2019.
As a law firm designed to support new businesses from startup to scale-up, Harper James Solicitors have helped many open their doors during the pandemic. Starting A Business In A Pandemic showcases some of the inspiring businesses and their stories - and their tips for succeeding.
Esconsocia is a London-based tech startup specialising in analytics and was formed in May by Ed Maclean and Cyrus Shamfard.
They build tools to help businesses better understand the environmental impact their products have on the world around us.
Ed said: “I'd say this is actually a good time to be developing a new service. Every global market has had a giant impact and small players like us can open doors to businesses which might otherwise have remained closed. In my experience in a growth economy, as a B2B business, you have to work hard to try to divert attention from the business-as-usual growth activities which companies think are working well for them, they don't see any reason to investigate other services. When everybody's idea of how their industry operates has been thrown out of the window, or income has suddenly dried up, people are much more willing to go to the marketplace to investigate solutions.
“My advice to anyone starting out is to focus 100% on a problem you are solving for a customer - it is always key. It can be a tiny problem for a lot of people, or a big problem for a huge range of people. Try to be the expert in something and leverage that. Pick a good team to go on the road with and focus on continuous improvement.”
New venture, Planned Chaos, will specialise in selling products to be retailed in the mother-and-baby sector. They will be opening their first store in London before the end of the year.
Founder, Michele Incendiaro, said: “In this climate it is best to keep it simple yet achievable. In a year from now, I would love to have a smooth-running business that is able to serve our customers, remunerate our employees equitably and hope to have laid the foundation for future growth and expansion opportunities. All this while still trying to achieve a work-life balance with my family.
“I believe the risks of opening a business have always been high. Especially if this is your first business. So my advice would be the same as if there were no pandemic: Do your research. Ask questions of those who know. Don’t overextend your financial commitment. Be Patient. Have passion. And stay committed.”
Dash Tabor was so fed up being stuck in someone’s armpit on her daily commute in London she developed an app to try and combat the problem. And before the end of this year the tech entrepreneur hopes TUBR will be live and helping thousands of travellers enjoy a better journey. The app works by telling people when the best time to travel is - including during the jam-packed peak rush hour periods. She founded the company just before the country went into lockdown in March.
Dash said: “The biggest opportunity about launching a new business in the current climate is flexibility. I have found that the people I am able to engage with are flexible about when they can communicate because we’re all working from home. Also, my time is a lot more flexible as well and I’m not as locked into the normal work hours. I can also run my company from just about anywhere, which has allowed me the ability to spend more time with family while also smashing out the workload.
“My advice to others would be to grow a thick skin and remember the imposter syndrome is real. I know I’m tough but I am still giving myself pep talks multiple times a day. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”
Avid International Ltd
Charlotte Zhao launched her industry-leading audio learning platform, Avid International Ltd in May.
Born out of her own experiences learning English, she is now looking forward to growing her business as we move in 2021.
She said: “I think in many ways as a company we’re in a very fortunate position that we have the luxury of experimentation, right now. We’re able to try things and make sure we find that perfect product-market fit. We know our mission is to promote audio learning but there are so many different ways to achieve it.
“Since the pandemic our work has gone virtual and frankly, we’ve been able to work with people who sometimes wouldn’t be able to attend in-person workshops and that has been really rewarding. And we intend to continue promoting virtual workshops going forward.
“As for advice - if you have a brilliant idea, you’re passionate, you’re hungry, you want to pursue it, then go for it.”
Working from home has become the norm for most of us this year.
But how do you keep remotely working teams connected, happy and invested in the job they are doing? HomeWerk provides the answer.
Founders Nathan Svirsky and Dan Strang created the platform after a contact at Facebook asked them to come up with a way to help keep their remotely working staff better connected.
Co-founder, Nathan, said: “To anyone thinking of launching now I’d say: You’ve actually picked a great time - the world is changing quicker than ever and necessity drives innovation. Whatever you do it’s important that from the start you own your decision and get rid of any excuses holding you back. This current climate is filled with enough doubt and uncertainty as it is, so you need to wholeheartedly believe in the problem you’re solving.
"Seek out people who can help early in the journey and do your best to absorb as much information from them as possible. Leverage the fact that many people are excited by the prospect of being part of the early stages of a startup and willing to help - if you ask!”
To read the report in full, visit Harper James Solicitors' website.