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5 ways Covid-19 has boosted business entrepreneurship

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by Startacus Admin


An insight into how the pandemic has impacted the outlook of the UK workforce and led to a shift towards self-employment and entrepreneurship

photo-1588856122867-363b0aa7f598There’s no denying the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the world we live in today. As a result of Covid-19, businesses were forced to change their ways of working, and for many organisations it was a case of adapt or die.

UK businesses showed resilience throughout this period, proving they could survive multiple lockdowns and adjust to changing restrictions. Each industry was affected differently, but there was a collective realisation that a ‘bums on seats’ office-centric approach to work may not be as necessary as previously thought.

And whilst much of the news has focused on the negative impacts of the pandemic, it's important to note that it also resulted in new opportunities, and a switch in mindset that may benefit future UK entrepreneurship as a whole.

Now, as businesses begin to return to the ‘new normal’, a shift towards self-employment and entrepreneurialism is evident. Which begs the question, how have the outlooks of the UK workforce changed since the pandemic?

1. Growth in employee autonomy

During UK lockdowns, employers were forced to introduce policies that complied with government restrictions. As a result, employees were able to work remotely and flexibly in order to minimise social contact and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

This gave the UK workforce the opportunity to prove that remote working would not impact productivity. Now, many people who enjoyed this type of work are pushing back on returning to the office. After proving that work can get done from anywhere, many are questioning the need for in-person work.

As a result of having been able to take greater autonomy of their work schedules, employees are placing greater value on decision making when it comes to job satisfaction. Companies that choose not to embrace this shift may find issues in retaining their staff. In the US, 40% of workers said they would consider quitting their job if they were forced to return to the office full time.

2. Upward trend in freelance work

For lots of people, the pandemic was a reminder of what’s important. As we were forced to slow down, there was more time to think about what we really want from life. It seems the days of working to live are gone, more and more people are looking to follow their dreams and do what they love.

photo-1485217988980-11786ced9454 In search of pursuing passions and doing something meaningful, many decided to take the plunge and turn to freelance work. Others were forced to enter self-employment after being let go from their full-time jobs. Covid-19 also accelerated the demand for freelancers, positioning it as a legitimate alternative career option.

3. The rise of digital

As technology continues to impact our lives, the necessity for companies to implement a digital transformation grows stronger. Following the pandemic, the majority of interactions between customers and employees took place virtually. With a new reliance on digital solutions to help facilitate changed ways of working, there has been a rise in digital entrepreneurship.

For digital entrepreneurs, creating a business online and using the internet to sell and advertise products or services can be relatively low cost. A large percentage of the workforce that have turned to online selling have been able to utilise their favourite social media platforms to advertise their side-hustle.

Unsurprisingly, growth in the digital and e-commerce sectors occurred throughout the pandemic, with British consumers spending a total of £113 billion online in 2020. Now, more people are looking to invest and get a slice of the pie.

4. New opportunities emerged

As high-risk ventures, startups faced significant challenges throughout the pandemic. With that being said, startups are inherently dynamic and agile, and many were able to thrive despite the unforeseen circumstances.

In fact, the pandemic was the catalyst for the biggest start-up boom the UK has experienced in a decade. Between April 2020 and March 2021, there were more than 810,000 businesses incorporated, up 22% from the previous financial year.

photo-1589884629108-3193400c7cc9The saying rings true - in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity. When crises occur, they open up room for new ideas and problem solving. Innovations in medicine, supply chains and health care processes have all been evident, with entrepreneurs spotting and capitalising on gaps in the market.

According to research conducted by King’s Business School, almost half of UK entrepreneurs found new business opportunities during the pandemic. Lots of business owners (particularly in the digital and healthcare sectors) reported that they were able to develop new products or services, while others were able to reposition their business entirely.

5. Increase in business finance

In the difficult economic conditions that Covid-19 brought, demand for business funding grew. The alternative finance market played a crucial role in ensuring businesses had vital access to funding throughout the pandemic.

Whilst the government offered grants and loans, many of these options were hard to secure. This was particularly true for newer ventures in their early stages. Alternative funding providers experienced unprecedented numbers of applications, and as a result of the pandemic, more businesses became aware of the innovative funding solutions available to them.

The increase in UK startups also drove the demand for startup business loans, products that were able to facilitate business births and scale-ups across the country. Interestingly, this surge in new businesses was not limited to the UK. The US, France, Germany and Japan also experienced a rise in numbers.

The future of entrepreneurship is bright

As a result of globalisation, we are more connected than ever before. Despite not having been able to travel freely over the past couple of years, businesses have still been able to reach customers across the globe. While the future of the world is unknown, one thing we can be certain of is that entrepreneurship will continue to flourish.

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Published on: 23rd August 2021

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