When lockdown rules kicked in last year, many businesses suffered and depended on government support to keep their heads above water.
But being at home gave people more time to think, and entrepreneurs across the UK began to set up their own companies. Some decided to find the silver lining and focus on COVID-related markets.
The result was that many businesses, like mask and sanitiser manufacturing, flourished. People have made a success of their sewing skills, using simple materials to create a wealth of beauty, especially bespoke designed masks.
These small enterprises required relatively little in the way of materials and technology, so they could operate from home. This was ideal for people who had to relocate to other parts of the country during lockdown, but could still reach their customer base. A mask-maker from Bristol was able to run their business in the Lake District, for example.
This reflects the growing digital nature of business, and is something worth considering for anyone looking to either expand their company’s reach or take on a new enterprise. Your geographical location may not be a hindrance when reaching your client base.
But now that COVID is easing off, mask requirements are not as stringent. What does this mean for the temporarily booming sector of mask manufacturing?
Inevitably, some of these business owners may decide to sell, or simply shut down. This in itself might not be a problem for those who have their old jobs to go back to. There is also the possibility of selling the business to a manufacturer who can adapt and reinvent the business model and goals.
Another path to follow is adapting to new circumstances. Sewing skills are not limited to mask manufacturing. You could continue to pursue the clothing manufacturing sector, and adapt your design skill set.
The entrepreneur mentioned above quit her job and started her own business, and has now adapted her mask manufacturing skills to incorporate new items, such as unique framed prints. Conceptualising new products that consumers will find valuable, and investing in your future may be what you need to survive. It can be a risk, but if executed correctly, it can pay off in the long run.
Of course, investment requires funding. Local councils have been offering financial help to businesses negatively affected by COVID, so it might well be worth seeing if there is anything available in your area. The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s ‘Dorset Gateway’ hub offers support packages of up to £2,000 for local businesses.
Such expansion can also have further benefits, such as taking on extra staff. This of course increases your overheads but means you won’t be working in isolation. You’ll also have more heads when it comes to problem-solving.
It’s important to remember what the actual essence of any undertaking is, especially if you’re thinking of taking a company on or trying to sell it. Just because your business makes masks doesn’t mean it will always be a mask-making business. It’s best to think of your company as one that makes products using sewing techniques and materials. How you adapt that to future circumstances can make a big difference to your ongoing success.
If you are running a mask business – or something else that has found a short-term goldmine due to the pandemic – then you are probably already considering your future in both the short and long-term. It will be fascinating to see how the market of Britain looks over the coming months as businesses adjust to their new world.