More people than ever have created companies during lockdown

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ON May 13 2021, a loan provider released new research to celebrate funding its 4,000th founder.

Virgin’s not-for-profit entrepreneurial hub, Virgin StartUp, reveals that one in three Brits dream of becoming an entrepreneur and would like to set up their own business.

According to the study, approximately two million people have started a side project during lockdown.

A further one in four said that although they don’t currently have a passion project, they would be interested in starting a business alongside their main employment.

Wanting to be your own boss is amongst the main motivations for becoming self-employed, alongside a better work-life balance, and disliking existing jobs.

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Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash.The COVID-19 economic reality seems to be accelerating entrepreneurialism.

As the UK entered lockdown on the March 23, 2020, the number of businesses set up almost halved, with a -43% drop compared with the same week in 2019. 

But confidence started to recover in May 2020 after the announcement that lockdown would lift from June, as the number of new businesses launching bounced back dramatically (from 9,989 to 14,525 within a week following the announcement).

From May 2020 onwards, the average number of businesses set up per week during 2020 was 30% higher than the same period the year before, jumping from 12,446 in 2019 to a huge 16,157 in 2020.

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Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash. The number of businesses set up at this time in 2021 is nearly 20% more than that of 2020.

                                                                    
In 2019, Virgin StartUp announced its 50/50 pledge to fund an equal number of women and men founders.

In the last week before the first lockdown, this rose to a peak of 47% women founders receiving funding.

When the pandemic hit, the first six weeks of lockdown saw this drop down to 23%, demonstrating the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women who were looking to start and scale businesses.

The number of women founders has risen again as 52% of applicants in April 2021 were women, more than double the rate seen in those first six weeks of the pandemic.

Since it was founded, Virgin StartUp data shows that 41% of its founders are women, compared with the national average of 20%, so a huge number of women entrepreneurs have been seeking expertise and funding.

This includes Virgin StartUp’s 4,000th founder Carley Read, founder of Y’earn, a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent baby & kids items from people and small businesses in the local community.

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Photo by Leon on Unsplash. Virgin StartUp tries to encourage more women to get into business.

Carley says: “I am extremely grateful to discover I’m Virgin StartUp’s 4,000th founder. Starting a company during a pandemic isn’t easy, but I really believe that Y’earn is more necessary than ever.

“Thanks to the support from the Virgin StartUp loan and the team’s advice, I’ve been able to get my business off the ground.

“I’d definitely encourage other entrepreneurs to look to Virgin StartUp’s diverse range of services to help them make their idea a reality too!”  

In order to make start-up dreams a reality, it’s clear that people would turn to entrepreneurial experts for assistance, as needing support with funding is the primary consideration, followed by needing help understanding business finances and wanting support and mentoring from other entrepreneurs in the same field.

Andy Fishburn, Managing Director of Virgin StartUp, comments: “The pandemic has allowed people to refocus on what’s important to them.

“It has also provided essential time and space to develop ideas, so it’s been amazing to see more and more founders getting creative in a crisis.

“It’s so encouraging to be working with so many people trying to make a difference at the moment by bringing innovative ideas to the table.”