Many people harbour the ambition to start their own business. Some hold the desire from a young age, for others it grows through their professional lives; some have a clear vision for a business they want to create, others are driven by the urge to be their own boss.
Whatever the case, it will be curious to see how COVID-19 affects people’s entrepreneurial ambitions. Indeed, early indications would certainly suggest the pandemic is spurring people on to take the plunge and start their own business. In fact, research from Startups.co.uk shows that five new businesses were founded every day in April 2020 – representing a 60% jump on April 2019.
A perfect storm
There are three factors that explain why COVID-19 would trigger a wave of business births.
The first is the rise in unemployment – some 695,000 UK workers have disappeared from the payrolls of British companies since March 2020. And for entrepreneurially inclined people, redundancy could spur them on to start their own venture.
Secondly, the shift to working from home has given many working adults a greater sense of autonomy. Free from commuting and travel, people also now have more time at their disposal. Combined, this can allow would-be founders to nurture ideas around starting one’s own business.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the onset of COVID-19 has opened up a large number of new opportunities for entrepreneurs. With social distancing measures in place and lockdowns being introduced – and re-introduced – across the country, both consumers and businesses are having to quickly adapt to the “new normal”.
The new normal has precipitated a notable shift from the physical world to a digital one; the ways products are purchased, services are consumed, and experiences are enjoyed are all now happening on largely digital landscapes. This, in turn, is opening up new business opportunities.
Take one example that combines the three factors above: Gemma Perlin worked as a documentary filmmaker but, as the TV industry ground to a halt during lockdown, she acted on her longstanding ambition to set up her own business as a behavioural change coach. Using her qualification in Neuro Linguistic Programming, she launched her own WordPress website and began serving customers through online sessions, with a view to offer in-person meetings in the future.
It sounds clichéd, but entrepreneurs tend to be positive, proactive characters. This personality typically enables them to spot and seize opportunities when they arise – and as the above examples show, COVID-19 has presented plenty of opportunities for new businesses to emerge.
The next generation of British startups
The example of Gemma Perlin shows just how necessity is the mother of innovation. Or, to put it another way, people will often demonstrate their innovative and entrepreneurial abilities only when they are forced to overcome adversity.
Startups that emerge out of a crisis similarly display an aptitude for innovative thinking. The “new normal” is not going away any time soon. Entrepreneurs that are able to provide the perfect product or service for the post-COVID world will not only become successful in their own right; but will make it easier for us all to get through these trying times.