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Coronavirus: One in five Brits launch their own business during the pandemic

Kalila Sangster
·3-min read
Abigail Awankwa of M & H Cake Company
Abigail Awankwa of M&H Cake Company had to pivot her business model in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: M&H Cake Company

A fifth of Brits say that they have launched their own enterprise during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study has found.

One in five adults said they had started their own business since the beginning of March and more than a quarter are planning to do so in the future, according to the study of 2,000 UK adults by online marketplace Notonthehighstreet.

A quarter of Brits said they have looked at starting their own enterprise in a more favourable light since the pandemic began, despite the challenges that come with starting your own business, such as cash flow, time management and capital.

Aspiring entrepreneurs are even willing to earn less than £25,000 ($32,000) per year as their new business gets started for the benefit of being their own boss – despite that being £5,000 less than the average annual salary of £30,000.

Having no boss to answer to was an incentive for 46% of respondents, while 56% said being able to choose your own working hours is one of the main benefits.

READ MORE: A third of Brits are shopping more online now than during lockdown

Half of Brits in the study said they are feeling sympathetic to small businesses in the current climate and are actively trying to support them more, with 59% doing so because they feel small businesses are suffering the most, and 47% stating they enjoy the community feeling they get when shopping at small enterprises.

Charlotte Taylor-Frape took up embroidery after having to leave her job as teacher when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. This prompted her to set up her own 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 home studio to keep up with demand.

Charlotte Taylor-Frape makes customised clothing with empowering slogans
Charlotte Taylor-Frape started her own business making customised clothing with empowering slogans. Photo: Modern Floss

Online marketplace notonthehighstreet have seen a 78% rise in the number of applications from small businesses wanting to sell through their platform since May. The platform has seen a boom in its home and food and drink categories since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, and consumers are already considering Christmas shopping, with searches on the festive season doubling compared with the same time last year.

Regionally, 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.

The pandemic has also forced small businesses to adapt their business models in response to the lockdown and social distancing restrictions. Abigail Awankwa of M&H Cake Company, initially set up her business baking wedding cakes from home. When weddings were cancelled during the lockdown she switched to creating cakes that could be sent through the post, and has since quit her job as a librarian due to the high demand that followed.

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.”