Setting up an online business during COVID-19

I wanted to talk about setting up a business during these very difficult and uncertain times, as it is something that I have done as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic; although it could be the best thing I've ever done!

I am a professional actor, which basically means I spend most of my time living a very uncertain life; exciting and incredibly gratifying, but uncertain nonetheless. So when COVID-19 came along and forced every theatre and film/TV set in the world to shut down, my life became even more uncertain.

Now, we could be faced with six months of isolation and therefore, the world of acting is well and truly lying dormant for the foreseeable future. This forced me to start focusing on other things and meant I could no longer neglect the various projects or brilliant business ventures I'd had in the old creation bank for quite some time, but had been letting normal life get in the way of. I no longer had any excuses. I had nothing but time on my hands and a total necessity to get these projects off the ground- money and purpose!

I'd been wanting to set up an online based vocal coaching site for quite some time! I'd been teaching singing and voice lessons for about four years, but very causally and in-consistently, due to acting work and various other work ventures and distractions. Most of my teaching work had been in-person, one-on-one classes as well as group workshops; obviously with the social distancing restrictions, this wasn't going to be possible! This meant I would have to adapt my usual way of working and start taking online sessions.

I was signed up to Bidvine and Bark; for those who don't know what these websites are- they are basically sites where professional service providers, like myself, create a profile with all my credentials, experience and fee estimates. People can then go on to the sites, looking for a particular service, for example, singing or voice lessons. The service professional would then make a bid for the service request and the customer would be able to choose whether they wanted to work with you based on your experience and quote for the services. These services are fantastic, they are a great way of getting yourself out there and putting you in touch with people looking for your services. However, I wanted to create my own portal where people could book me directly; cut out the middle man, as it were. And so I formed this website!

I happen to know my way around and so I sat down in my study and got to work! I built it up gradually, adding more and more content day-by-day. I kept contacting people via Bidvine and Bark in order to develop and extend my client database, then I would direct them to my site for future bookings and reference. I developed online booking forms for my lessons, set up a members area for my clients, ensured that all the information about my previous experience was available for current and new clients to browse at their pleasure. I had a logo designed, registered with Companies House, created a domain, my own unique email address and I was good to go!

It was incredibly liberating to have the time to really focus on a project like this. I enjoyed and continue to enjoy the running of the business and the site. Daily updates, continuing to develop and extend my client base, whilst always maintaining care and attention to my current clients.

COVID-19 is a terrible situation. No question, no doubt! I never thought that the world would have to face such a horrendous and unusual set of circumstances, but here we are. CoronaVirus is here and here to stay for quite some time; therefore social isolation and working from home is here to stay... and let's face it, who the hell is going to want to go back to working in offices? Commuting at 6am every morning for an hour to an office to do work that has now been proven can be done just as effectively from home.

If we can take a positive from this pandemic, it's that its forced people to finally get round to setting up that business idea they've been neglecting, making changes to their business structure they've always wanted to make and actually take time to focus on what is best for them!

I now have a business that I can enjoy running and when the theatres, television and film sets finally do open up again and I can get back to auditioning, there is no reason where I can't continue to run my online business!

I am trying to live by one thing at the moment... Just because we are stuck in a difficult situation where we are having to make many sacrifices, doesn't mean that we can't take the time to really focus on ourselves and focus on things that are going to better ourselves; whether that's to try and learn a new skill by taking online lessons or setting up a business where we offer said online lessons!

As long as we are staying home, we are saving as many lives as possible and hopefully reducing the amount of time we have to live our lives in this way; but we may as well be productive and give ourselves a solid focus on a daily basis!

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