Post-lockdown boomtime for new business launched during Covid pandemic

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The figures come as retail sales last week rose above pre-pandemic levels for the first time, being three per cent higher than in February. And an economic survey found that activity in the UK’s manufacturing and service sectors during August grew at the fastest rate for nearly seven years. The IHS Markit/CIPS composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) gave a reading of 60.3, the highest figure since October 2013. A figure above 50 indicates expansion.

It said the growth in new orders was linked to the reopening of businesses, alongside “greater willingness to spend among UK households”.

Traffic on the roads is also back to February levels.

The new wave of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) being launched in June, July and the first week of this month has been hailed as a further boost to the UK economy.

Company House records show the birth rate for SMEs in the UK is more than 600,000 a year, or about 50,000 a month on average.

In June this year, 77,575 new Norwich Plymouth companies were formed, compared with 52,790 for the same month a year ago.

This figure rose to 81,354 last month, compared with 61,226 in July 2019.

And in the first seven days of August 21,000 new companies were formed, which is equal to an annual rate of almost a million.

Many of the ventures being launched are thought to be the result of people losing their jobs or being furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clive Rich, the chief executive of LawBite, an online platform which connects SMEs with affordable expert lawyers, said: “Even in the height of Covid-19, 80 per cent of our inquiries were about SMEs wanting to get on and move their business forward.

“I think small businesses are more resilient than forecasters give them credit for.”

He added: “I expected a surge after Covid as a lot of people finding themselves out of a company job can say to themselves this is the perfect opportunity to do something for myself, be my own boss and balance my work-life better, knowing they can now do it all remotely.

“Even the SMEs that have struggled in Covid may want to have another go with another venture.”

Mr Rich believes companies that can trade and market themselves digitally will be more successful than those that rely on face-to-face contact with their customers.

Shruti Srivastava used a three-month break from her job as the head of recruitment for a global law firm in the City of London to launch an online platform for yoga teachers to sell virtual classes.

After coming up with the idea in mid-June, the 41-year-old launched Yoga Mapp on August 1 and already had nine yoga teachers offering more than 30 classes a week on Zoom or other video conference sites.

Shruti, who lives in south London, started posting schedules for Zoom yoga classes on her Instagram account to remind herself when they were on.

After getting lots of followers for this she realised there was a need for a platform for yoga teachers to sell slots for the virtual classes launched when studios and gyms closed for lockdown.

She now intends to run the online business alongside her “day job”, to which she recently returned.

Shruti said: “I have always wanted to work in the yoga industry to combine my passion for yoga with my business skills.

“I had nothing else to do for 60 days, as I live on my own, and was inspired by the virtual yoga classes taking place to create a platform to make it easier for students to book their classes.”

Shruti used LawBite to find legal representation in setting up her new online business.

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