Lockdown sees a number of people launch their own businesses

A study by website building platform GoDaddy found that 20 per cent of people were considering starting their own business or taking on a side job during the lockdown.

Chichester At Home
Chichester At Home

The survey data found the top reason for people wanting to start their own business was the prospect of being their own boss (24 per cent) and a further 21 per cent wanted a sense of purpose.

Many companies were hit hard when the pandemic took hold, one in particular was the travel industry.

Amy Wheeler, lives in Midhurst, has worked in the industry for just over ten years and her current job is as a family travel specialist travel operator.

Amy Wheeler photography

She has been on furlough since April 1.

“It was a big change, suddenly being at home with nothing to do, a bit emotional due to the unknown and where the future of my job stood.”

Amy decided to use her time to go back to a hobby she has always enjoyed and launched Amy Wheeler Photography.

“I have always been interested in photography but never had the time to make it more than a hobby. Suddenly with all this time on my hands I decided to be motivated and get myself into gear and make it happen.”


She added: “I am proud of myself. I am excited for what the future holds and hopefully the business will take off once things start to return to normal.”

Trevor Harris is a bus driver who was placed on furlough in March. He set up his own hanging basket business when nurseries and garden centres were shut.

Trevor, who lives in Chichester, said: “I advertised the baskets with photos from last years displays and the new baskets I had made up on Facebook buy and sell.

“I then had deliveries or people coming to my house to purchase the baskets, some of the deliveries I did were folk on shielding , and their joy and excitement at getting these baskets was amazing I must say .

“For the winter I am going to make winter baskets of pansies etc. I have bought the seeds and a greenhouse so will grow my own.”

South Coast Furniture Design in Angmering is a family run business that specialise in bespoke furniture and restoring old pieces.

Sam Tait said: “We set up the business beginning of July whilst on furlough from my main job.

“I decided to launch the business because woodworking has always been a hobby which started over 20 years ago when I used to do furniture restoration as a job and since having the spare time over furlough I have rekindled my love for it.”

Lockdown has also changed the way we shop. Gemma Young and Sara Watkins created Chichester At Home as a go-to list of small local businesses who will deliver goods to your home.

Gemma said: “Looking back, it was an extraordinary opportunity to provide a service to the community that took off overnight.

“We enjoyed meeting local suppliers that were new to us and have been overwhelmed with the feedback about how it’s helped so many people in the local area to shop safely. We’ve now listed nearly 100 local suppliers in the Chichester area since March.”

John Marchant-Brodie saw first hand through his job the mental health impact Covid-19 was having on people and decided to do something about it.

His business, John Elliott Coaching, offers personal coaching for people who are struggling with mental well-being.

He said: “I believe coaching can take anyone from a place of stagnation to development. Or liberate them from their own mindset.

“At the moment with the lockdown there has been a huge increase of mental health worries and I think the need for coaching is greater than ever.

“To help I am offering free coaching to NHS staff who have work with Coronavirus to help them on the road to their recovery.”

A study in May 2020 by Statista found that 38 percent of respondents said they miss going to restaurants and pubs. With many people looking to show loved ones they care by sending food items by post.

Andy McCarthy is a pastry chef and set up his company ChouxBox in May (@chouxbox_bakery on Instagram).

He offers a range of items for delivery. So far he has created an ‘afternoon tea’ box and the ‘[email protected]’ box which consists of five different cakes such as brownies, choux buns, cupcakes etc.

He also offers celebration cakes from birthday cakes to wedding cakes and other bespoke products and items.

Andy said: “The response has been incredible, I have build up a great reputation and the feedback has been mind blowing. There has only been five star reviews and the recommendations have gone far and wide. We have even delivered out postal brownie all the way to Wales.”

Melanie Savill of Duchess Vintage China Hire in Chichester has used the time to train as a wedding, family and funeral celebrant and set up her business Lemonade Ceremonies.

“About four years ago I was speaking to a customer who was a registrar for the county. She told me about what she did on a daily basis and suggested that I had the right personality for the job and should consider it. She told me about the option to become an Independent Celebrant which means I can conduct ceremonies in licensed and unlicensed locations.

“I’ve dreamt about pursuing it over the years and had planned to do it in 2020, so when lockdown began I took the opportunity to study via Zoom with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants. It was an amazing experience! I learnt so much and made some wonderful connections with the small online group.”

Horsham-based Emma Pugh was made redundant due to the pandemic and decided to use her marketing skills to set up Boostar Marketing.She said: “Deciding to set up a business isn’t an easy decision at the best of times, it can be daunting.

“However, setting up a website and promoting my business was easy as this is what I do.

“There are many things to consider when setting up a business and the lockdown provided the time for me to plan and finally make the jump to self-employment.

“I launched the business a couple of weeks ago so there is still a long way to go. I’m looking forward to helping more businesses grow online in the near future.”

Michael Weller is director of Signature Home Improvements in Chichester alongside Rakeem Porter-Young, they set up the business in May 2020 after being made redundant.

“We both has a great amount of knowledge in the industry and with lockdown it made us realise it was time to go it alone rather than work for a national company.”

Rachel Jack is an accountant who has worked for local practices for many years but lacked the confidence to set up on her own.

She said: “Working from home these past few months, although tough with childcare and homeschooling, has given me the push I needed - the confidence that I can work without the support of an office and a boss, and the time to start putting a plan into place. I am working full time at building up RSJ Accountants Ltd.”

Evolve Consulting was set up in July 2020. Graham Carter offers his professional expertise to organisations which may have no learning or development expertise in house.

He said: “I help people at all levels to be better today than yesterday, and even better tomorrow. This could be through coaching or mentoring, help with developing leaders, individuals and teams, consulting to address performance issues and skills gaps, or support with making online learning effective and actually useful for everyone within the organisation.

“This is a challenging time. It’s also an exciting one.”