When the coronavirus caused the country to go into lockdown, for lots of people life looked very different.
People who run their own businesses and entrepreneurs were left with a lot of uncertainty about how they would cope during a really difficult time.
Ishtar Ali had previously been in contact with Wayne Wilson, our One Manchester Enterprise Adviser. Our Enterprise service provides really valuable support and information for local small businesses, and Ishtar had taken advantage of this to help her get started.
“I found out about One Manchester late last year (2019)”, Ishtar says, “when I had just started my limited Company, Ancora Renovate Ltd which is a building contractor based in South Manchester”.
“I found an Enterprise workshop that I was interested in and attended a marketing for small business courses that One Manchester were offering.
“I attended my first training session and was blown away by the quality of the training and the immediate learnings I took away from it.
“I also had the chance to meet Wayne for the first time at that course and he was so kind and helpful. He was the only person I felt could help me bring everything that was in my head together. He offered support that I didn’t feel anyone else was, and he’s continued to be a massive support to me as I’ve journeyed through new business life”.
Ishtar had started her new business in January, and all was looking good before lockdown forced her to put the brakes on her plans to grow the business.
“Well lockdown pretty much stopped my business only 2 months into operations.
“We had to pull out of all of our projects, we were working on residential projects at the time. And I had a solid pipeline of jobs for March to the end of the summer which I had been working on developing that had to be put on hold.
“The whole experience was scary and unnerving. I spent the first two weeks of lockdown feeling very down. I had made so much effort in the run up to starting operations to make my business a success that the thought I couldn’t continue for an unforeseen time was really horrible.
“I then decided to take action and actually put all my efforts into networking with other business owners.
“I found out very quickly that the way I was feeling was the same as many others. I took a bad situation and turned it into something amazing.
When lockdown began to ease, Ishtar was able to restart some of her projects. Some of the outdoor projects her business was due to work on could begin again, and her whole team were really glad to get back to normal. They have now slowly started to return back to full operations, and Ishtar has been able to see some of the positives that came from the situation.
“The relationships I made during lockdown generated new leads for new business which was great. I learnt a lot about myself and the benefits of networking during lockdown. Resilience was tested in a massive way and I’m glad I managed to find some light early on in the lockdown period.”
Now things are looking bright for Ishtar and her business, she has even begun retraining as an interior designer in order to be able to offer another service to her customers.
“I’m also joining the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce to support more women in construction. I’m hoping to be a positive role model for others trying to get into the industry.
“One Manchester really helped me pull all my thoughts together. The training and support they offered was great. I couldn’t have asked for anything more”.
To find out more about our Enterprise Service and how Wayne might be able to help you and your small business, get in contact with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0161 274 2150, and take a look at the Enterprise workshops we’ll be providing on our Events page.