The coronavirus crisis has sparked an explosion of entrepreneurs as millions of Brits have decided to start their own businesses from home since lockdown began.
One in five adults say that they have launched their own enterprise since the start of March, and more than one in four are planning to do so in the future, according to a study by online curated marketplace notonthehighstreet, home to 5,000 of the UK’s small creative businesses.
Despite the perceived challenges that come with starting your own business, such as cash flow, time and capital, a quarter say that they have looked at starting their own enterprise in a more favourable light since the pandemic began, with 56% saying that choosing their own working hours is one of the main benefits, as well as having no boss to answer to (46%).
But the new breed of at-home business people are not doing it in the hope of making a fortune. They are willing to earn less than £25,000 as the business gets started for the privilege of being their own boss – that’s £5,000 less than the average annual salary of £30k.
Results from the study of 2,000 adults echo the experience of notonthehighstreet, who themselves have seen a 78% increase in the number of applications from small businesses wanting to sell with them since May.
The platform has seen a boom in its home and food and drink categories since lockdown, and customers are already turning their minds to Christmas, with searches on the topic already double what they were last year.
Notonthehighstreet small business Partners who have seen a dramatic increase in sales and interest during lockdown include ex-teacher Charlotte Taylor-Frape who after being diagnosed with cervical cancer at just 30, took up embroidery in her recovery, leading to a successful business Modern Floss, selling embroidered items and customised clothing with empowering slogans.
During lockdown her orders skyrocketed and she had to work 70 hours a week out of her spare room turned studio to keep up with the demand.
Astrophysics graduate Lucy Raff previously dreamed of joining NASA, instead she created her own jewellery business, Eclectic Eccentricity, which transformed when joining notonthehighstreet and at the start of the pandemic had a ground-breaking idea of delivering rainbows through people’s letterboxes.
Business increased by more than 600% in lockdown, which has enabled her to move into premises more than 3 times bigger.
Baking cakes out of her house where she lives with her parents, Abigail Awankwa of M&H Cake Company, joined notonthehighstreet in June. Initially baking wedding cakes, Abigail pivoted her business model to create post-able cakes when weddings were cancelled for thesummer, and has since had to quit her job as a librarian due to the high demand that followed.
For those thinking of going it alone there is good news, one in two people polled are sympathetic to small businesses in the current climate and are actively trying to support them more, with 59% of these people doing so because they feel small businesses are suffering the most, and 47% say they enjoy the community feeling they get when shopping small.
Out of the nation, Londoners are the most likely to have considered starting their own business during lockdown (63%), with Northern Ireland in second, and the North East coming in third.
Notonthehighstreet’s Executive Director Ella D’Amato said: “Small businesses provide much-needed strength, vibrancy and diversity to the UK economy and have been quick to respond to changing consumer demands through the pandemic. It is fantastic to see that despite the uncertain conditions, one in five people have followed their passion and set up their own business and, for those also planning to take this path, that there is a strong groundswell of support for shopping small.”
Notonthehighstreet’s small business have, to date, generated more than £1 billion in sales, and the marketplace has created seven top tips for those who are looking to start their own business adventure.
1. Follow your passions – those ideas that started a fire in your belly and kept you up through the night are the ones that will keep you motivated through the harder times.
2. Know your customer – Make sure you think about what will matter to them most and prioritise these things from the outset to set you apart from your competition
3. Feedback – ask everyone and anyone to give you their honest thoughts on your product and your ideas.
4. Make sure you can answer confidently the question “why will anybody care?” What’s different about your business and is this enough to make it worth pursuing, or do you need to go back to the drawing board to find your stand out proposition?
5. Plan for the worst – Ask yourself “hat’s the worst that can happen?” and scenario plan for each of these cases.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Surround yourself with likeminded people, seek mentorship or guidance in areas you are less clued up on.
7. Know your numbers – Being clear on your costs before you commit to ensure you don’t lose out later down the line. Research your market and analyse your expected profit margins to be sure your passions are rooted in profitability too