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How can you start a business during a recession?

Has the entrepreneurial class of 2020 been spending their time in lock down making the next household name? In the US an astonishing 67,160 applications were filed to set up new companies in the last week of May and that was a 21% rise to the same week in the previous year of 2019. In a time when you can’t get finances and you’re trying to get customers when there is no demand, use this as a motivational aspect as being faced with challenges from the start will make your organisation resilient. As a result of a corona virus a recession for most countries is fast approaching and with a shift in the way we live, new business ideas to fit the new needs of customers could mean you becoming the hottest new entrepreneur on the block.

Success stories in economic downturn


Ah Disney whether it’s visiting Disneyland or watching Cinderella for the 50th time – whether you’re a male or female, 60 or 6, the fun-loving brand was built to instantly puts a smile on your face. During one of the worst financial crises in history of the world – the 1929 great depression. During the great depression Walt Disney Productions created cartoons to bring happiness to those suffering from the economic crisis, during this period they made around 1.25 million and they positioned themselves as a form of comfort and an outlet for people who were struggling.


During the major financial crisis in 2007-2008 a young entrepreneur from Chicago created this platform to help people enjoy anything from day trips to getting a haircut at a discounted price. As the industry took a hit the website helped retailers promote their brands through offering cheaper deals and this meant they were a pioneer in the market as they were a new form of online retail.





Apple’s direct competitor and arguably the most recognisable brand in the world, Microsoft was created during the 1970’s oil crisis which caused a 16-month recession. Paul Allen and Bill Gates set up the tech giant Microsoft and within a decade it made the pair billionaires which went on to them creating Windows, Office, Xbox, Outlook and many other products which have become a part of our everyday lives for many of us. Last year the company had exceeded the £100bn valuation and is now not just one of the worlds leading tech companies but globally recognised company in the world.


At the back end of the most recent financial crisis the former Yahoo exec’s created the app as a means of messaging people all over the world for free in real time. It was launched on iOS and became one of the systems most downloaded apps. After five years it was founded in 2014 the app was sold to Facebook for a whopping £15.5bn – just a few penny’s then?


Steps to success


Identify a need

Air b n b was created because the founders identified that people wanted affordable accommodation without long term commitments and then the company emerged as a cheaper flexible alternative to hotels and by 2011 the global organisation was valued at more than $1 billion. Something I learnt from my marketing degree is to position your business to emerging customer needs, we’ve seen due to lock down the country and people worldwide have been using video conferencing applications for business conferences and family quizzes – what has this meant for apps like zoom? Due to a new socially distanced world the video conferencing app is now worth more than the worlds 7 biggest airlines with the market value of $42bn which has boomed during the lock down period.

Find your niche

Before putting time and effort into a business assess the world around you and listen the issues that friends, family face and what’s on the news think about the questions that currently aren’t being answered. Adapting is something that we’ve had to do globally to fit our new normal of social distancing so this is also what you should do with your business aka adapt to the new needs of customers.

Reach your audience

Lock down has highlighted more than ever how important strengthening connections between people really harnesses an online presence, intimacy through online connections is the new normal as during lock down that’s all we’ve had. The body coach aka Joe Wicks started his health and fitness business purely through Instagram which was free and managed to make £5.5 million last year.

Whether you’re positioning your brand to be the next market leader or starting up a local café.. believe in your dream, have passion and set yourself realistic goals – you’ll do great.


Written by Sophia Ghahramani

Let’s talk loneliness

Now more than ever as the nation who have been self-isolating, we are getting an insight into what some people’s lives are like daily regardless of the current situation. Companionship is important and even though we all need some alone time, having people that reach out and care for you gives a sense of belonging.

A report from the office of national statistics found that 5.0% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) felt lonely ‘often’ and ‘always’ when the country got put into lock down – however these are similar figures to those taken before the lock down was put in place. 30.9% (7.4 million adults) reported their well being had been affected through their feeling lonely in the last 7 days.

Detached Britain

London, our beloved capital city that’s probably known by tourists as one of the coolest cities in the world full of afternoon tea, people in suits and not to mention our infamous tourist attractions. However, the novelty of our English culture wears off pretty quick for some of us Brits as it’s also known for being fast paced and detached. Around 2 million people travel on the London underground every day and I can say from experience of living in London – conversation is not the priority of these busy commuters. When living in London I described it to my friends as ‘lonely’, lonely because most of the time you feel invisible, lonely because the fast paced nature of the city has diminished a possible personable morale that is more common in ‘friendlier’ places like Yorkshire.

Maybe it’s time for change? We are in the midst of a loneliness pandemic and people that may have not felt lonely before may understand now more than ever how difficult it can be. Prior to covid-19 research from the British cross found one fifth of the population said they are always or often lonely, i.e. loneliness has always been a problem, but this pandemic has heightened the importance of having a companion. An article published by the independent this time last year for national loneliness awareness week documented an experiment attempting to start conversations with strangers on the tube, after five days the writer Olivia didn’t manage to sustain a single conversation with anyone longer than 30 seconds – talking to strangers on the tube isn’t the cure to the loneliness crisis however taking longer than a minute to talk to someone could help them more than you would even imagine.

How can we make a difference?

Recognising that someone is lonely is one of the first steps to helping them find belonging which may be hard as you may not want to admit that one of your loved ones is lonely as you may feel guilty. Never be afraid to ask someone if they’re alright Be there because simply being there for someone lets them know you care, be patient as quite often with people that feel lonely and isolated just like many of us in quarantine they may get irritable and feel misunderstood by others so encourage and support them by informing them they may need some new social connections or access services that are in place to tackle loneliness.

London is Lonely

This Sunday, 23rd June 2020 the minister for Loneliness Mims Davies is holding an exhibition called ‘London is Lonely’ showcasing the audio stories and photos showcasing the extent of loneliness taking over the city. To start getting over this loneliness crisis we need to get over the stigma around loneliness, the exhibition invited visitors to think about their role and how we can make more of a connected world. Whether you live in London or not there is loneliness that is affected people’s mental and physical state. Last night I asked my housemate “What is your biggest fear in life? She replied “Being alone” – don’t let this fear become the reality for an increasing number of people.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani



Life on lock down: The anxiety of re-entering society

There are numerous articles/ blogs on coping mechanisms during lock down – now with restrictions being slowly lifted we thought some guidance on how we can manage life AFTER lock down would be beneficial for our readers. The announcement that we could only leave our houses once a day for exercise was almost three months ago now, for some of us this may have gone mind numbingly slow, for others including myself the announcement feels like yesterday. As humans we’ve all managed to adjust to the new normal in our own four walls, in the past month we’ve seen slight easings of lock down as to begin with the advisory slogan went from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’, then we were allowed to meet up outside in groups of 6 and go over to one another’s houses. As of Monday non-essential shops are opening and if all goes well restaurants, pubs and hairdressers will reopen in July, these are positive steps as it shows all our efforts of isolating from normality has paid off however this may cause a tsunami of anxiety for some – which is completely normal. Whilst many of us are eagerly waiting for restrictions to be lifted the prospect of a ‘new normal’ can also bring on some anxieties. This is evident in a recent poll by Ipsos MORI found 67% of British people feel uncomfortable attending large public gatherings, music and sporting events compared to how they felt before the virus and 3 in 5 Brits are sceptical of going to bars and restaurants or using public transport again.

How has mental health taken a hit?

We haven’t been through anything of the sort in the recent past and it’s too early to know what the long lasting mental effects of corona virus are but unfortunately our immune systems can’t fight the mental struggles that have come with lock down. A study by the mental health charity ‘Young Minds’ found 80% of young people who has a history with mental health problems said they found their conditions worsened since the corona virus outbreak began. The link between mental health and poverty has been recognised for many years prior to this pandemic, and with a large number of businesses putting staff on furlough or letting them go this can cause problems that may have not be there prior to the pandemic. Research from the mental health foundation found one fifth of people survey have had suicidal thoughts and suicidal thoughts in the last two weeks – compared to 8.64% of people in employment.


How we can manage with the anxiety of re-entering society

Go at your own pace

One of the reasons why lock down may have been so mentally challenging at the beginning is because unlike the lifting of lock down it was sudden so therefore we had to abruptly stop our normal day to day lives and create a new ‘ at home’ routine. Just because we are able to go into groups of 6 outside of our households doesn’t mean you have to do so straight away , a good way to ease yourself back into society is meeting up with one or two friends out of your household to familiarise yourself with others. If your office reopens but you can still work from home build up your attendance in the office and slowly re-establish a routine that you are comfortable with. If you don’t have control on when you return to work i.e. you can’t work from home put measures in place that make you feel as comfortable as possible that you can voice it to your employer, communication is really key here.


Focus on what you can control

Through the whole of this pandemic it has been uncertain and unfortunately a worldwide pandemic is something we can’t control as individuals, so it goes without saying if you’re anxious about catching the virus then focus on following the government guidelines. If you picked up something to focus on during lockdown – whether this is exercise or cooking don’t stop this as it’ll be a while until we can make excuses for ‘not having time’ for these activities. If you have been unfortunate enough to have lost your job focus on how you can enter the working world again, build a strong social profile by making connections in your chosen industry through platforms such as LinkedIn.


We’re all in this together and this pandemic has highlighted the importance of friends and family more than anything so let’s work together to share coping mechanisms/strategies. Most importantly remember you won’t be the only one that’s feeling anxious about attempting to go back to what used to be our normal again – so don’t panic this feeling isn’t permanent.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani


Volunteering: It’s a win win

If you’re anything like myself the ‘tell us about yourself’ question that gets asked in interviews can be one of the toughest questions to answer as selling yourself can be challenging – because how do you prove this in an interview? It’s drilled into us at school, college and University that we need to sell our positive, commendable traits through words such as ‘proactive’ and ‘diligent’ – however realistically the word on it’s own in meaningless if you can’t prove this.

Now more than ever people not just in our country but worldwide have really seen the importance of being kind and how rewarding helping others can be. In the middle of April over a million UK citizens signed up to volunteer to help the NHS and others during the peak of this invisible killer. With the majority of the nation staying at home people have evidently felt they could do more with the new- found free time– which has not gone unnoticed. For some of us we may come out of this on the other side with a clearer image of how to prioritise the important things life, and in aid of national volunteering week this could be doing activities that provides service for others whilst at the same time being self-rewarding. One of the main reasons why people don’t volunteer for charities or non – profit organisations is because they either ‘don’t have time’ or don’t see the financial benefit that they would get from a paid job. In October 2019 the BBC reported that there was over 60,000 children on the waiting list to join scouts due to the vast shortage of volunteers wanting to be leaders and in June 2017 the UK was in need of public services volunteers to fill the gaps which had the value of over £23 billion.


How can volunteering help your career?

Recent research from SEEK found 92% of employers said relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in interviews, 85% of employers believed that volunteer work was just as credible as paid work. Volunteer experience demonstrates personality traits that are hard to convey through your CV, and just like how employees want to work for ethically in line organisations – employers also want socially responsible employees. I can say from personal experience when it came to filling in the ‘volunteer experience’ on my CV I felt ashamed to say the only thing I had to offer was the charity shop work I did to gain my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award which was compulsory.

 From a recruitment perspective someone’s grades, experience and achievements are strong deciding factors, but it doesn’t show who that person is i.e. What are you passionate about? It can be difficult to portray your full personality through a 2-page CV so taking part in activities that have made you feel rewarded and fulfilled really puts a personality to the piece of paper.

Why should you volunteer?

To get an insight into why volunteering is something that should be something to put time and effort into, I interviewed a recent graduate who has heaps of voluntary experience both in England and in countries such as Botswana and Israel. She stated the main aspect of volunteering is the rewarding factor knowing that you’re making a difference to someone else’s life. “You see the change; you see the good and you feel the good.” Instead of getting paid with money you’re getting paid with the sense of accomplishment. During her time in Botswana, she helped build a playground and gave food and water to different villages. “When you see how grateful the children are that’s the reward.” I then asked what her opinion as to why there may be a shortage of volunteers, “People don’t deem it as work because it’s for free, but it really shows you have a passion for something”.

Whether it’s overseas, or in your local charity shop, volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and help future employers learn more about you.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani