how to get entrepreneurial in lockdown

This is a four-part series on what people are doing to boost their income during

This is a four-part series on what people are doing to boost their income during lockdown, from setting up a side business to learning Japanese

One in five Britons are planning to start a new business while in lockdown, new research has shown. 

Although they may feel unsettling, times of financial adversity are often a boom period for innovation and entrepreneurship. Tech titans Uber, Whatsapp (now part of Facebook) and Airbnb were all founded during the last recession. 

Aside from being a creative outlet, setting up a sideline business can also help to boost your income. While a fifth of the population is planning on setting up a business, among those whose job has been affected by coronavirus that rises to one in three, according to GoDaddy, a website for entrepreneurs.

Tristan Dell, 25, is planning on doing exactly that. He has used his time in lockdown to set up a company that helps people to calculate their carbon footprint and then offset it via a monthly subscription fee. He hopes the income from his business, Settle for Less, will supplement the £17,000-a-year stipend he receives from doing a PhD at Imperial College London. 

“I’d usually spend about an hour travelling to and from university: I’m now dedicating all of that time plus an extra few hours a day to the business,” Mr Dell said. “I have a business partner, another PhD student, and we’re been trying to do as much of the work ourselves as possible to keep down costs.”

Tristan Dell in a park  – Geoff Pugh

That has included building the website, setting up a crowdfunding campaign and finding partners to plant forests for them both in Britain and overseas, which is how they plan to offset the carbon. Thanks to their DIY approach, their initial start-up costs are expected to be £1,000 or less. 

“Although on the face of it now looks like a terrible time to set up a business, I actually think there’s going to be some great opportunities,” Mr Dell said. “People are becoming more socially aware and, if they are spending money, they want to make sure it has a positive impact. That’s why we’re choosing partners that offset carbon as efficiently as possible.”

The business will make money by taking a small cut of the subscription fee and they hope it will become profitable within the first couple of years. “The subscription model is one that doesn’t need much maintenance. Hopefully we can create a passive income that only needs one or two days’ work a week.” 

Alan Donegan co-founder of PopUp Business School, which advises start-ups, said now is an excellent time for entrepreneurs. “People will want new products and services or want them delivered in a different way. There’s a void to fill and those that fill it will benefit,” he said.  

‘I can make 5pc a year on money that was earning no interest with my bank’

Creating a secondary income doesn’t have to mean having high-flying tech skills or marketing know-how. Sometimes it can be as simple as posting an advert online.

Andrew Passer has managed to earn himself an extra £100 a week just by renting out an unused garage in north-west London. The 63-year-old accountant decided to buy the garage, which cost £20,000, on a whim – potentially as somewhere to store a classic car collection in the future. But when he realised he could make returns of 5pc on his money by renting it out he quickly changed his mind.

“I had some money lying around earning no interest in my bank account. This is a much better use for it,” said Mr Passer. 

He has also benefited from the fact that many people are looking for extra space during lockdown: either as storage because they are unable to buy a bigger home or as somewhere to park their car for those who are switching from taking public transport to driving to work. He rented the garage using Stashbee, an online marketplace for self-storage, and found a taker within a week.

How to make money while in lockdown

“I kept a strict two-metre distance as I showed him round and then left the key on the doorstep for him: we didn’t have any contact,” Mr Passer added.  “I’m not going to be a millionaire on an extra £1,200 a year, but it’s useful all the same. Garages in London don’t come up for sale often but if I see another I’ll definitely snap it up.” 

Eventually Mr Passer would like to use the garage to house his beloved 1960s MGA. “Hopefully I’ll be able to put the money I make in the meantime towards another classic car,” he said. 

Are you trying to boost your income during lockdown? If so, how? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

Are you looking to make some extra money from home? Here are eight ways you can do it.