Record number of new firms as Sheffielders turn entrepreneur to beat the pandemic

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Sheffielders have set up a record number of companies this year as they go into business to beat the pandemic.

New company creation has exploded since the first lockdown, with 3,092 registered in the first eight months of 2020.

Figures from Companies House show an increase of 9.3 per cent compared to last year, a total of 262 more start-ups.

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Nationally, 1.3m people were on furlough from the end of March, rising to 9.6m by August. At the same time, thousands were being laid off - prompting many to get busy creating their own opportunities.

Louisa Harrison-Walker, managing director of Benchmark Recruit and executive director of Sheffield Chamber.Louisa Harrison-Walker, managing director of Benchmark Recruit and executive director of Sheffield Chamber.
Louisa Harrison-Walker, managing director of Benchmark Recruit and executive director of Sheffield Chamber.

E-commerce was the most popular new venture, with 141 firms established between January and August, up 114 per cent on the year previous.

Second most popular was renting out property, 184 set themselves up as landlords. A further 107 started businesses buying and selling real estate, while the fourth most popular was ‘delivery services and vehicle rental’, mirroring the boom in home delivery for locked down residents shopping online. The data was compiled by recruitment company SHL.

Louisa-Harrison Walker, executive director at Sheffield Chamber, said people were showing energy and ingenuity – and the authorities had to step up and match it.

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She added: “Sheffield has a long entrepreneurial history. The pandemic has had a big impact on the economy but people across the city are showing energy and ingenuity as they spot new opportunities to create new businesses.

Talisa Vallance owns 10X Marketing Consultancy.Talisa Vallance owns 10X Marketing Consultancy.
Talisa Vallance owns 10X Marketing Consultancy.

“The key now is for the city council, its universities and business organisations to make it as easy as possible to start and grow and successful business. That is why the city’s recently published business recovery plan is about doing more to encourage start-ups.”

She added: “Frontline workers are the heroes of the pandemic. Entrepreneurs can be the heroes of the recovery.”

In April, Talisa Vallance, aged 27, of South Anston, quit her corporate job to set up 10X Marketing Consultancy.

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Today business is booming and she has international clients from Sweden, America and the Middle East.

Claire Simpson of 'Do The Thing' personal training.Claire Simpson of 'Do The Thing' personal training.
Claire Simpson of 'Do The Thing' personal training.

She found lockdown helped her get going.

She said: “It really gave me the opportunity to build my business. I used video call tools like Zoom, which we’ve all grown to find tedious after months of use, but it was great to help me get out there.

“People must have been thinking ‘what on earth are you doing?’ I left a good job during lockdown to work for myself.

“But I decided the anxiety of the corporate world was getting in the way of family life and I wanted to change that and put my own mental health first.”

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LAVA Advisory Partners, from left: Claire Davis, Hamish Martin, Chris Harper (Chairman), Millie Counsell (Analyst) and Simon WoodcockLAVA Advisory Partners, from left: Claire Davis, Hamish Martin, Chris Harper (Chairman), Millie Counsell (Analyst) and Simon Woodcock
LAVA Advisory Partners, from left: Claire Davis, Hamish Martin, Chris Harper (Chairman), Millie Counsell (Analyst) and Simon Woodcock

Claire Simpson opened her own personal training studio during lockdown, taking space in the Krynkl building in Kelham Island, going it alone after five years.

‘Do The Thing’ was going ‘really well’ - once she got the premises ready.

She said: “Due to the first lockdown, the flooring delivery was limited to a kerbside drop which left me moving 350kg of rubber floor tiles up two stories on my own - I reckon that alone has given me the determination to succeed since there's no way I'm moving it all out again any time soon!”

Now England is back in lockdown training is via Zoom or in the ‘great arctic outdoors’ – but she won’t be stopped.

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Claire added: “The idea of going solo has been tempting for a couple of years, but the fear of failure always stopped me. I really struggle with anxiety and self-confidence, but lockdown was a surprisingly positive transformation and I decided to take a leap of faith. And I’m so glad I did.”

“Overall, I guess lockdown made me realise how important it is to appreciate today and to do things for you. Really, I just wanted to give people the opportunity to find fitness as fun and exciting as I do, so that they start doing it for themselves and for genuine enjoyment. In a world where exercise and health have become over-complicated and overwhelming, I’m here to help people keep it simple and just Do The Thing.”

LAVA Advisory Partners was founded by Claire Davis, Simon Woodcock and Hamish Martin in September. The corporate finance company helps people buy and sell businesses and raise money.

Claire, an accountant by training, had been in a large organisation for 14 years before going it alone. Today, there is “plenty going on.”

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She added: “I initially interviewed for a number of roles but then sat back and realised that I had built such a strong network in Sheffield there was no reason why I shouldn’t go for it and do this for myself.

“Simon and Hamish were having similar thoughts and we decided to team up and launch LAVA together. We spent the summer planning and then opened our doors in September.

“The main difficulty has been juggling LAVA with my two dogs, daughter and husband. But one positive thing that has come from the Covid crisis is a much more human way of doing business. We all have hectic personal and family lives and people have been far more understanding of interruptions and working during hours that suit, rather than the old 9-5.

“I’m currently basing myself at home but our plan is to grow and I’ve already had several prospective new partners and employees express a wish to join LAVA so you might be seeing us invest in a local office soon!”

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Gillian Pickard, an investment manager at Finance For Enterprise, said: "It's perhaps no surprise growing numbers of people across the region have started to explore the idea of running their own business.

"As a delivery partner for Start Up Loans, we have seen high demand from new businesses owners during 2020, which has helped new entrepreneurs to explore running their own business, as well as providing a vital lifeline to start-up businesses which have not been able to access the financial support available from the Government."

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