• Steph Bishop

Lockdown #3: time to kickstart your business – and a career

Updated: Feb 15

Remember all the craft projects. The baking. The small acts of kindness we were so busy with. Our unnaturally sunny first lockdown seems an age ago from here at the bad end of February, with the prospect of another month at least cooped up at home stretched out ahead of us. Certainly I’m not being seized by as many urges to redecorate, or learn a new language.

But for those who can – home schoolers need not apply – these (hopefully) last few weeks of lockdown provide a golden opportunity to really hunker down and pour some love into your business, especially if your business currently feels like it’s in hibernation mode.

I like to think of businesses (like the gym my friend owns) as bears right now, all unnecessary activity stripped back and just waiting for spring to arrive, when they can emerge blinking out of their cave into the sun.

But – to confusingly add another animal into this analogy – it’s the squirrels who stored away the most nuts in the winter who’ll make it to spring. This might be (fingers crossed) the last shutdown where we have some enforced business development time, of the kind that’s so hard to come by once business is just … happening.

Kickstart: that extra pair of hands you always needed

My friend’s gym business is of course completely mothballed at the minute, but she’s been making the absolute most out the fallow period: refreshing her website, engaging with her current members (and prospective ones) on social media, getting her brand out there and generally making sure everything is absolutely shipshape ready for the big re-opening day – including all those little jobs you never quite get around to doing.

Sounds daunting? Maybe, but not when you have an extra pair of hands.

My friend signed up to the Government’s new Kickstart scheme a few months ago and as a result now has a Digital Marketing Coordinator (a digital native who’s passionate about health and fitness) working with her for 25 hours a week for six months – with their minimum wage salary and National Insurance contributions 100% covered by the Government. She’ll also get £1,500 per Kickstart job placement she offers, to cover the trainee’s set-up costs and their training & development.

There’s no commitment to transition the person into a more permanent role at the end of the six months, although a lot of companies are finding that the business their Kickstarter’s work is bringing in, will more than pay for their salary in a permanent role.

Get involved: it’s just become a whole lot easier

Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t! Hundreds of employers have signed up to the scheme, which is designed to support young people aged 16–24 who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, into meaningful jobs where they can develop their skills and hopefully take a first step towards a permanent role.

“Where do I sign up?” I hear you all asking. Just drop me an email ( and I’ll arrange for one of our enrollment team to give you a call.

So why not join the wide range of employers from small businesses including accountants, plumbers and beauty salons, to huge organisations and the likes of Bloomberg, Network Rail, Bauer Media, Barnardo’s, YMCA, LADbible Group, KFC, Tech Nation, and Farrow & Ball? These and a host of other employers have created over 120,000 Kickstart jobs between them, and are starting to benefit right now.

Mend the gap

So that’s a lot of young people on the employment ladder, and – just as importantly – it’s helping the UK take a great big slug at the widening equality gap we’ve seen appearing since the start of the pandemic.

  • Younger workers are bearing the brunt of the jobs crisis inflicted by Covid-19, with over 600,000 16–24 year olds not in employment and on Universal Credit in August 2020. People aged 16–25 are more than twice as likely as older workers to have lost their job, because they worked in sectors that suffered the brunt of lockdowns and social distancing restrictions – retail, hospitality and leisure.

  • We know that young people from less advantaged backgrounds are being affected disproportionately in this new world of homeworking, locked out due to digital poverty or the lack of a place to sit and work.

  • And we know that young workers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have also suffered a disproportionate impact, stoking fears that a lasting legacy of the crisis will be to entrench inequalities.

So it really is a double whammy: through Kickstart you can boost your business AND reduce inequality at the same time. What’s not to love?

Sign me up

But although the scheme on paper seems like a no brainer, I worry that not enough businesses know about it, or might be put off by the thought of endless government forms to fill. I’m working with People and Their Brilliance, a Kickstart Gateway which can support your business to participate in the scheme: we take the administrative pressure off you, so your time remains focused on your business. We also support the individuals throughout their six-month Kickstarter placement, to make sure they’re getting the most out of their time with you and maximise their chances of finding employment.

While we’re talking long-term: just a quick reminder that it was recently National Apprenticeship Week, another thing to keep top of mind. Apprenticeships aren’t just for school-leavers any more, and might offer another opportunity for your Kickstarter within your business, at the end of their six-month Kickstart placement.

So if you want to make the most of whatever remains of lockdown #3, and give your business the best possible chance of coming out the other side, join thousands of others and act now!

Get in touch with me, visit our website or follow me on LinkedIn to hear about our Kickstart journey and to sign up for our upcoming webinars about all things Kickstart.

We can help you make the most of this scheme, which genuinely might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow your business AND battle inequality, all at the same time.

If you have time to keep reading, here’s the view from the other side of the Kickstart scheme: one the young people now getting a fresh start in a meaningful, challenging role. Sian was on Universal Credit and struggling to find a way into the media world, when the perfect Kickstarter job came calling. Here’s her story.

My Kickstart story: Sian Roberts Xavier

Before I applied for the Storytelling Executive role through the Kickstart scheme with Bauer Media, I was looking for a new career direction, after spending years in hospitality and education. When the pandemic hit, it became harder to find opportunities for the type of role I was looking for – then I discovered Bauer Media was joining the Kickstart scheme. It was a chance of a job in an industry I’m passionate about, and an opportunity to learn from people that have an abundance of experience and knowledge to share.

Before I applied for the Storytelling Executive Internship, I didn’t have a lot of experience working in media, but the application process didn’t feel intimidating: it actually felt refreshing to have an opportunity to discuss my passion for the industry and explain why I’d benefit from the programme.

When I was offered the placement, I felt nervous but excited; Bauer Media has really set a foundation for me to continue within the media industry. I hope to go into radio production or music programming one day.