Entrepreneurs who fought back when Covid took their jobs

Entrepreneurs who fought back and started a new business when the coronavirus took their jobs

National lockdowns during Covid have been a troubling time for all of us, but for some they have also ended their employment. About 73,000 people lost their jobs in the first few months of the lockdown, while millions were taken on leave.

But many of them decided to take matters into their own hands – and start a new business.

According to Companies House figures, 84,758 additional companies were founded in 2020 compared to 2019.

'Big Step': Christian Azolan Started His Own Business Selling Art Online

‘Big Step’: Christian Azolan Started His Own Business Selling Art Online

One such company is owned by Fiona Metcalfe, 27, of London, who was due to start a new job in March last year as the head of events for a group of London properties. The offer was withdrawn due to the pandemic and she was out of work.

During the six months she was out of work, Fiona founded Cuisine Box with her partner Manuel Martinez Infante, 31. They sell a range of themed food boxes, including Japanese, Thai and Indian, which are stocked with all the ingredients needed to cook a variety of dishes at home.

Since October, they have made £22,000, much of which has gone back into the business. Turnover of £65,000 is forecast this year, of which 12 percent is profit.

Fiona now runs Cuisine Box in addition to a part-time job, but she plans to work on it full-time by the end of the year.

Starting a new business when you lose your job can be an alternative to looking for a new one.

However, Beverley Sydney, of Sydney Hudson Accountants, finds it much easier if you’ve built up some savings first.

“This can help ensure personal bills are paid while the business is still in its infancy and also provides the necessary funds to seek expert advice where necessary,” she says.

If you do it alone, you will also need to understand the tax implications. Once you make more than £1,000 you will either need to register as a sole proprietor with Revenue & Customs or Companies House if you have a limited business.

You are responsible for filing your tax return and knowing the tax payment deadlines. It is possible to do this yourself, or you can pay an accountant to do it for you.

A business plan is also essential, including research into the market you are entering.

Here’s what Christian Azolan, 38, discovered when he lost his job as a media lecturer at the University of Brunel due to Covid last March.

Christian researched the art market, consulted with artists, and then launched a new business selling art online. Now he sells art all over the world and earns up to £3,000 a month, 70 percent of which is in profit.

“I never thought I’d ever start a business,” he says. “The idea was scary. I’d always worked for someone for a paycheck, so the idea of ​​relying purely on myself for my income was a huge step.”

Using your existing skills to start a business can give you a great head start.

Loc Bui, 46, and his fiancée Paula Cooper, 49, started a cooking school and private dining service after Loc lost his job.

Paula explains: ‘Our restaurant, where Loc was head chef, had some kind of restriction since March 2020, except for a few weeks. “In January, we decided it was just not feasible to stay open because we couldn’t see an end date and had no outdoor space, even if we were allowed to reopen.”

The couple, who live in West Yorkshire with their two young children, founded Loc’s Taste of Vietnam.

They have been demonstrating at food festivals across the UK this summer and have recently started offering in-person cooking classes alongside their online offerings. They have invested around £15,000 of their own money and aim to make the same amount of profit this year.


If you work for yourself, you need to be on top of the tax you owe and when it is due.

As a sole proprietor, you must register with the tax authorities no later than 5 October after the end of the tax year in which you became a freelancer.

If you earn more than £85,000 you will also need to register for VAT.

You must file your tax return for the previous tax year by October 31 by mail or January 31 of the following year if you do it online. The tax is also due on January 31. If you earn between £12,570 and £50,270 you will pay a base rate of 20 percent tax; for an income of £50,271 to £150,000 that is 40 per cent; and anything above £150,000 attracts an additional 45 percent tax rate.

You can offset some of your expenses, including travel expenses, office supplies, and insurance.

You also have to pay national insurance and corporation tax if you have a BV