While the Covid pandemic and government lockdowns allowed some to make their business dreams a reality and earn some extra income, it hasn’t been plain sailing for every start-up. From struggling to find manufacturers to not having enough employees to package orders, many have faced a multitude of challenges.
Our Start Up Loan ambassadors share the challenges and successes they faced in the previous two years and how they plan to tackle the coming year to help their start-up build back stronger.
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Although South Yorkshire-based firm D&K Accounting didn’t see a dip in business during the pandemic, it still faced challenges.
With the introduction of the furlough scheme and customers grappling with financial uncertainty, founder Dan Edwards had to find ways to manage his clients effectively while juggling an increased workload.
“We found that many businesses just weren’t getting the support they wanted from their accountants,” explains Dan.
By using free resources such as WhatsApp group messaging and Facebook Live, Dan was able to communicate en masse with clients in a way that was easily understandable and time efficient.
Because of their out-of-the-box client support, D&K Accounting saw a surge in business.
While the pandemic and working from home proved challenging when training new starters, Dan is undeterred from growing his team now that life is returning to the office.
For a business that thrives on “not being geographically bound”, Dan plans to turn to platforms such as LinkedIn to hire staff and win clients across the country.
“Networking client referrals is a key area for our growth,” he says. “We’ve taken on clients in Scotland, Plymouth, Cornwall, London – all over the place. We’re not geographically bound, and people have realised that a place is just a location.”
Focused on wasting nothing – materials, people, or land – upcycled whiskey barrel furniture manufacturers The Whisky Chairmen suffered a blow during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Closing their workshop two weeks before the first UK lockdown was non-negotiable.
Founder Rory MacDonald switched to an online business model to protect staff and keep the business afloat, completing outstanding orders and boosting The Whisky Chairmen’s online presence.
This wasn’t without problems though – a lack of high-quality PPE supply meant orders had to be completed from the safety of their employees’ own homes, which proved challenging, and the business experienced a drastic reduction in turnover.
However, the lockdowns did provide The Whisky Chairmen’s team with some valuable time to plan their route ahead.
When asked how Rory would describe his business as it has emerged from the pandemic, he only had one word: “strong”.
Alongside a heightened commitment to sustainability and investing profits into growing the team and their products, The Whisky Chairman will be returning to Scotland’s Trade Fair and the Gourock Highland Games later this year, as well as competing in round 20 of Scottish Edge opens in new window.
Susan Bonnar founded The British Craft House in November 2019 as an online platform and shop for British artisans to sell their products and designs.
When the pandemic hit, The British Craft House had only been open five months, but they weren’t deterred.
In fact, the business has hit its third-year trading goal in its first year!
“We did a bit of a pivot on the website to focus on letterbox gifts – the idea being that the seller could pop it in the Post box when they were on their one-walk-a-day,” she says.
With people discovering that their creative hobbies could earn them some extra cash over lockdown, adjusting the seller onboarding model to be as simple as possible and accommodating the numbers of new sellers was also vital to continued success.
“When people join the website, there’s a series of videos to help. You can join without any online ecommerce experience,” explains Susan.
“These sellers are now having the time of their lives because they’ve stayed online. They wouldn’t have got around to doing that if we hadn’t had a pandemic.”
Coming out of the pandemic with a strong community, Susan is looking towards the future and building up her business and customer base.
It will include a mobile app for both buyers and sellers.
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Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.