Nick Skinner goes through the trials and tribulations of launching an independent media company in the Covid-19 lockdown.
Finally. I did it.
I stepped down from a long, successful career with a Blue Chip employer. All ready to set up on my own.
It was a dream years in the making. To offer my skills as a film-maker to Welsh businesses, voluntary organisations and the public sector.
Yes – I was giving up a well paid job with a major organisation. Sick pay, holidays, pension. But I was excited. Confident. And once I land my first client, I’d be unstoppable!
It had been rumbling down the tracks for weeks as I sipped coffee with contacts and went to networking events. But ‘flu in China wasn’t going to derail my entrepreneurial ambition, was it?
As my leaving date approached – so did lockdown. Two weeks before I was due to leave I said goodbye to my colleagues on a Monday night expecting to edit and film as normal the next day.
But that was it. I never went back. Twenty-two years of corporate life finished and I didn’t even get a lukewarm pint or a leaving card.
But, lager and leaving cards are the least of my worries.
WHAT. HAVE. I. DONE.
A regular pay cheque kept us in housing and holidays. Now what?
I can’t even leave the house. Let alone shoot a video.
The business cards are gathering dust. Yes, they are tax deductible. But if nobody is buying marketing videos – I’m not going to have any income to pay tax on anyway!
I delete promising looking networking events from my diary. Rip up my financial forecasts.
Truth be told, I’ve been increasingly alarmed and despondent for weeks. Depressed, even.
Now, it’s looking like a car crash.
Around me – chaos. Neighbours and friends are laid off. My son’s plans for A-Levels and a trip to the Euros are in tatters. My daughter, home from Uni. First year ended in March. My eldest – laid off from a brilliant job she’d started just weeks before.
This is difficult for me. It is difficult for everyone. I can’t listen to the news – it just gets worse.
Around me there seems only darkness.
Yet. I really can’t think like this. If I can possibly bring myself to see a positive, I have to.
This isn’t just a case of looking for opportunities in a crisis. They exist but I had to search for something else first – a positive state of mind. Basically, a recognition that we will get through this. If people were going to want me before – and they seemed to – they are going to want me after lockdown.
An advisor told me McDonalds are advertising like crazy. When we’re finally allowed out, they want to make sure the first place people go is through the golden arches.
And that is the mindset I need. We all need. To look up. Look to the future. And plan to make the post-virus world as good as it can be.
So, I postponed my plans for a hiking trip to Scotland, bought myself an incredibly expensive laptop, and began fine tuning my business plan. My Linkedin is growing and I’m building networks on Zoom. And in doing this, I’m finding so much hope. So much positivity.
I listen to budding entrepreneurs tell me: “Do what you can do now. Plan. Set things up. Don’t worry too much about what you can’t change.”
And it is true. And I’m busier than I’ve ever been. Planning, fixing, networking. Putting my feet in the starting blocks for when this nightmare is over.
The thing is, if I can launch a viable business in the middle of the biggest economic horror show in history, I have to have a chance! And I do love a challenge.
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Photo credit Rory Skinner