On the up · 9 April 2020

Five dos and five don’ts for restarting your business in lockdown


After a decade of running his own company, CEO Simon Paine finds himself in start-up mode again, rapidly reinventing his business to suit these unexpected times. Here’s the latest instalment of the PopUp Business Survival Guide exclusively for Business Advice…

All businesses are start-ups now. Everything has gone out of the window and we have no choice but to start again.  A few weeks ago, our events business was turned upside-down, we lost six-figure sums and we had no obvious way to make money.

We have been very successful, helping over 6000 companies start up. But there’s no chance of running an event anytime soon.

So, come with me on this journey and let’s re-start together. Here are my 5 do’s and don’ts when restarting your business during lockdown:

1. Don’t feel sorry for yourself

I get it, it’s tough. But you do have a choice. Either throw up the sandbags and try to sit it out or get active. I’m going for the latter.

2. Don’t write a business plan

Let’s face it, you never followed your old one, anyway. Business plans are rubbish. Don’t bother writing one, just pick up the phone and start talking to customers.

3. Don’t take on debt

This is not a time to take on debt, unless you really have to. We don’t know how long we are going to be in this mess and the problem with debts is that you have to repay them.

4. Don’t try to do everything by yourself

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, but you are not alone. Delegate, ask for help, ask for ideas and ask for support. Don’t stay stuck. I bet there’s someone you know who has some spare time right now!

5. Don’t let this thing win

I refuse to let this issue hold back my business. Everything you’ve worked for, the dreams you have and the goals you set shouldn’t be abandoned, they should be strengthened.

Now, let’s get positive…

1. Do ask for help

Engage with other self-employed people and support each other by helping to figure out solutions to the challenges you’re facing. You might be surprised at how much others are prepared to give. People are stuck at home and want to feel useful.

2. Do motivate your team

They’ll be on a rollercoaster, worried and uncertain, and this is the ultimate test of your leadership. Be strong for them, work together and communicate openly and more regularly than you normally would.

3. Do focus on your customers

Take care of your customers. What help do your customers need? What is the number one thing you could deliver right now to help people get through this period of uncertainty? Go out of your way to help your customers solve their problems.

4. Do innovate

It’s time to think outside the box. Ask big questions and find new ways to work and solve problems. Do whatever you can online. There are masses of free tools out there.

5. Do stay true to who you are

You need to find ways to survive, but don’t do anything that means you can’t look yourself in the mirror. This is a test of character, it will be hard, but be the best you can be. Also, take care of yourself – eat well, look after yourself and don’t spend too long watching the news. Care for your customers and suppliers, care for your staff and care for each other. The people around you need leadership and it’s the entrepreneurs that will make the difference in people’s lives in the coming months.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



Simon Paine's events company has been decimated by the coronavirus, but the PopUp Business School CEO is fighting back. He and his co-founder, Alan Donegan, will be offering regular support and advice for Real Business readers, with PopUp's Business Survival Guide.