Starting a new business in lockdown

When experienced project director Steve Harbertson lost his job amid the fallout of coronavirus, he turned to a long-held ambition of starting his own business.

Steve, who lives near York, was made redundant in March as the impact of social-distancing measures began to bite. Steve had been working for an established firm offering event production and audio visual expertise – a sector he has been involved in for more than a 15 years.

He said: “I was told I was being made redundant – statutory redundancy for someone who has worked for a company for less than two years meant I was left with no redundancy pay and one week’s notice. It was brutal but understandable given the uncertainty over both future business and government assistance. I enjoyed my time with the company but survival sometimes means that hard decisions must be made.

“I had decided though that this company was going to be the last that I worked for, however that worked out. I have a wife and three sons, so the regular income was welcome, but I had always been ready to start my own business – it’s just happened a little sooner than expected.”

Steve, pictured, was able to quickly establish his new venture, Swift AV Solutions Ltd, which has a list of services for clients including web streaming, video conferencing and audio visual equipment rental / production management for corporate events, award shows and product launches.

He said: “A lot was already in place – I had a website ready to go, for example. I can market myself and lay the groundwork for when business returns to a level of normality. With strategic partners built up over my years in the industry we can offer everything that a large production company does.”

Steve believes there are opportunities for collaboration among smaller businesses.

He said: “I think small businesses will have an edge and I think there’s an opportunity for small and medium-sized business to work together more. If staff are furloughed, for instance, firms could turn to experienced freelancers like myself in certain situations in order to keep their business going.”

Looking for guidance on how to start a new business? You can read our guide here.