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Are you using furlough to plan your own business? You should be.



Are you using furlough to plan your own business? You should be.

If you are reading this, there is a chance that you are one of the ten million people in the UK currently on furlough. But have you thought about what is really going to happen when the furlough scheme comes to an end?

Whilst we commonly refer to it as furlough, under the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme, workers placed on leave have been able to receive 80% of their pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. But the furlough scheme is set to end in October and that could mean a winter of discontent for many households across Britain.

So the question those on furlough should be asking is, should I be using this opportunity to start my own business? We look at five reasons why you should be using the downtime whilst furloughed to plan your own startup business.

1. Your job is not guaranteed after furlough ends

There is no getting away from this. When the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme comes to an end, there will be millions of redundancies. It is estimated that 1 in 10 on furlough will be hit with redundancy at the end of the furlough period. How safe is your job? In fact, how safe is the company you work for?. Most industries in the UK have taken a huge hit and in many, the furlough scheme is simply postponing the inevitable. You need to look no further than the tourism industry or your local high street. The end of furlough and effects of Brexit could be devastating for big business.

2. There is no better time to follow your dreams

You have the time and if you are reading this, your mind is already half way there. Many of you would have dreamt of running our own business but life has gotten in the way. As of August 2, 2020, approximately 9.6 million jobs, from 1.2 million different employers are currently on the furlough scheme. That is a lot of downtime and the perfect time to follow your dreams. Why would you not utilise this moment in time to do what you really want to do?

Utilise your skills - There is no getting away from this. When furlough comes to an end, there will be millions of redundancies. It is estimated that 1 in 10 will be hit with redundancy at the end of the furlough period.

Can you turn a passion into a business post furlough?

3. Startup costs are at an all-time low

Starting up your first business in the middle of a downturn and on furlough might sound crazy but there are plenty opportunities that you can use to your advantage. Many of the services and products that startups will often use such as website hosting, CRM and marketing automation tools have extended trials and sign-up discounts. You will also find negotiating prices and terms with suppliers easier. Read our guide to ‘looking for opportunities during the UK’s shutdown‘.

4. Being on furlough doesn’t stop the hustle

You should already know that you can work somewhere else whilst on furlough. This is dependent on if your contract with your current employer lets you. Getting a new job won’t affect your furlough pay. The same applies for starting a new business whilst on furlough. We recommend checking your individual contract but there are currently no laws or stipulations that stop you from putting on your entrepreneurial hat whilst on furlough.

5. You owe it to yourself and your future

More than anything, you owe it to yourself to try and launch your own business if you have not tried before. You’ll have more freedom and independence working for yourself after the furlough period has come to an end. Just remember, many business icons started with an idea and opportunity that has changed the world. From Disney to Zuckerberg, and Bezos to Gates, all of them had ideas they built an empire around. You are full of ideas. Now get them out of your head.

Founding Member of Blown Businesses. Passionate about the growth and success of black owned businesses in the UK. Lover of all things with four wheels and fast. Also Contributing Editor for TrendLife Magazine, a refreshingly bold magazine that brings the best lifestyle and entertainment news to Beds, Herts & Bucks.


What a difference a year makes… especially for black businesses



What a difference a year makes... especially for black businesses

This time last year, we were planning to launch our free black business magazine but we chose not to. It was an incredibly hard decision to make but it was the correct one as we wanted to launch at the right time.

Launching any new business is often a make or break moment, whether it be a retailer, clothing brand, law firm or in our case, a publishing business. Effective planning during times of difficult times is critical to the successful launch of a business.

The recent pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse for black entrepreneurs as many have been able to tap in to new opportunities whilst others have had to deal with the harsh realities of lockdowns and temporary closures. As a business, we chose to move our big launch back as we felt we would be able to reach a bigger audience and achieve a bigger impact on UK black businesses once many of the restrictions were removed.

How the pandemic affected UK Black businesses and us

Much of the impact of the pandemic on black entrepreneurs has been due to the sector they operate in. Sectors with lower output per hour (productivity) were amongst the hardest hit because many of these businesses require face-to-face activities (e.g. Food services, Arts, Health and social work). This applied to us too as our distribution network was made up of many retail outlets and businesses with high footfall.

Distributing hard copies of a magazine even for free would have been a challenge with many of our distributor’s premises closed so we made the tough the choice to move back the launch of our physical copy.

What next for ?

Over the next few weeks, you will see new posts and invitations to promote your black owned businesses in our first digital and physically copies of Blown Businesses. Make sure you follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

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BLOWN Introduces Paris Cesvette | OPOM & The Smooth Zone



BLOWN Introduces Paris Cesvette | OPOM & The Smooth Zone

BLOWN meets female entrepreneur and business owner Paris Cesvette. An empowering personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and corrective exercise specialist. As part of our BLOWN Introduces series, Paris Cesvette discusses how she launched OPOM, moving from music to wellbeing and the launch of The Smooth Zone.

About Paris Cesvette

Born & raised in Hertfordshire, Paris Cesvette is also a multi-instrumentalist, Music Producer, DJ, Presenter and label owner. At the young age of 5, Paris was studying to read and write music. This led Paris to becoming proficient on the Saxophone, Keys and Guitar. Before Paris even finished her high school, she started to work as a session musician and begin learning the ropes as a DJ on pirate radio.

Entrepreneur Paris Cesvette is also an award DJ and music artist

In recent years, Paris Cesvette has focused her energy on wellness.  We speak at length about her journey to becoming a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist amongst other things.


OPOM LIFE is a fitness community. Created and run by accredited corrective exercise specialist, fitness nutrition specialist and Level 3 personal trainer Paris Cesvette. Based at The Letchworth Club, Paris provides a completely customised personal training service. Train to reach your goals in such a way that the results will be everlasting.

BLOWN Introduces Paris Cesvette | OPOM & The Smooth Zone

The journey of getting into shape can be one of the toughest challenges many of us have to face. OPOM LIFE Personal Training can help you fall in love with the challenge and process. Obtaining optimum health and fitness requires a certain mindset which OPOM LIFE helps nurture in its clients.

BLOWN Introduces Paris Cesvette | OPOM & The Smooth Zone

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Five reasons why 2021 is the year for black businesses in the UK



Five reasons why 2021 is the year for black businesses in the UK

2021 is going to a create the perfect conditions for black UK business to grow at a rate never seen before. You will be mistaken if you think Coronavirus and Brexit are going to slow down black entrepreneurship.

In mid 2020, heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua called for people to “invest in black-owned businesses” and the message has really hit home with movements like the launch of ‘Black Pound Day’. Initiatives like Black Pound Day are making the focus on Black-owned businesses official. There are also some amazing groups on Facebook such ‘Support UK Black-owned Business’ and Black Owned Economy all advocating for the advancement of black-owned businesses.

We have highlighted ‘Five reasons why 2021 is the year for black businesses in the UK‘.

1. Black online businesses are filling a gap

The COVID pandemic has shifted e-commerce in 2020, maybe more than any other time in history. Traditional retail sales have declined due to the lock downs and consumer confidence in high street shopping. Black online businesses providing uniquely black products are filling various gaps that are opening up due to consumer behaviour changes.

Black women in the UK are embracing natural looks and purchasing locally sourced, organic hand made products.

2. Trends are changing in black hair & beauty

Talking about uniquely black products, the biggest mover in black UK business has been UK black owned hair products. Black women in the UK are embracing more natural looks and purchasing locally sourced, organic hand made products. Examples of businesses meeting this demand include The Afro Hair & Skin Co., Natural I Am and Von Botanicals.

This demand has led to a growth in new UK startups catering entirely for black and mixed race clientele. This trend has also enter the world of black cosmetics but that is a whole conversation by itself.

Black women are mastering social media marketing
3. Black entrepreneurs master social-media marketing

Instagram. Facebook. LinkedIn. Pinterest. Twitter, Snapchat. Black entrepreneurs have been able to utilise various social media sites to promote their brands, products and services. By mastering social-media marketing, these businesses owner have mastered:-

  • Brand awareness. Savvy black entrepreneur are working hard to create brand presence on social media platforms to find potential customers and generate new business. With the sheer volume of people using social media today, social media platforms are the perfect place to promote a brand’s story and help people get a better feel for the business.
  • Brand loyalty. Social media gives brands an unparalleled opportunity to join in conversations and engage with their customers. When executed properly and consistently, these interactions pave the way for brand loyalty. While it still takes time to earn customer loyalty, social media engagement can help businesses build that trust more quickly.
  • Customer insights. With more black consumers shopping online, a tremendous amount of important customer data is being collected on social media platforms by black entrepreneurs. Through social listening and engaging with followers, black owned businesses are able to engage with prospective customers in ways not possible before.

4. Afro-Caribbean food sees increase in demand

The last ten years has seen a rise in demand for authentic Afro-Caribbean food. The big four supermarkets in the UK, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have taken advantage of this with more stores across the UK are adding or expanding their Afro-Caribbean isles.

This trend has shifted online with new black food products making their way into online baskets. Following the Tropical Sun boycott, black consumers in the UK have become more conscious in regards to the brands they purchase. This has driven a rise of small businesses to enter various markets.

5. Black women are taking their seat at the table

In the past, when it came to securing finance for startups, black women in the UK  often faced the double whammy of racism and sexism. Times have changed and launching a start-up has never been easier. Black women are finding new resources that are equipping them with the tools need to succeed.

The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table
Why is it important to support black businesses?

Supporting black businesses in the UK is beneficial for everyone. For one, it stimulates the UK economy generating millions for the treasury. Secondly and most importantly, it allows new products to enter the market and drives competition. Variety is the spice of life and having new products and services is beneficial for all of us.

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Three lessons to learn from Pure Gym’s marketing faux pas



Three lessons to learn from Pure Gym's marketing faux pas

There is a belief in business that ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity‘. Whilst this may be true for multinationals with millions to spend on PR, this does not apply to your startup. If for any reason you missed Pure Gym’s moment of marketing madness, which was trending for most of yesterday, you should take a moment to read what went wrong and how you can avoid making a similar mistake.

So what did Pure Gym do wrong?

PureGym has had to issue a formal apology after a local Luton & Dunstable gym posted a ‘slavery-based’ fitness workout five days into Black History Month. Whilst it is obvious that there was no racist intent behind the post, the post was widely condemned and mocked.

Pure Gym's Marketing Faux Pas

In their swift apology, Pure Gym made it clear that the post was not approved by their head office. They went on to add ‘individual gyms control their regional social media accounts’. This could explain why this happened in the first place and is the first of our ‘Three lessons to learn from Pure Gym’s marketing faux pas’.

Three lessons to learn from Pure Gym’s marketing faux pas

1. Measure Twice, Cut Once!

Proverbs will serve you will when starting your business. The old adage of measuring twice and cutting once helps to avoid costly mistakes. In the case of Luton & Dunstable’s Pure Gym, a sanity check would have been more appropriate. Had the post been checked by two different people, this PR disaster might have been avoided. Whilst the negative attention won’t affect Pure Gym in the long term, it could destroy a startup.

In all aspects of marketing your startup business, measuring twice and cutting once will save you money and time. From targeting prospects to launching campaigns, double-check everything to avoid mistakes. You will make some mistakes but you want to make sure they are not going to destroy all your hard work.

2. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Staying on the theme of proverbs, startups must understand when it comes to marketing, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Whilst social media can be an amazing tool to generate leads and promote your business, it is very important to remember that it should be used as part of the marketing mix and not as a free marketing platform. Posting for the sake of posting eventually leads to situations like the one Pure Gym is now facing.

Think Before you Speak to avoid marketing faux pas

When it comes to social media, jumping on trends to be noticed can often backfire and should be done with extreme caution. As a startup, gaining the attention of prospective customers and clients should be a top priority. This doesn’t mean you should shoot from the hip. Think carefully about your messaging and what you align your brand with.

3. Two heads are better than one

When it comes to problem-solving, two heads are clearly better than one. The assumption here is that the one head is not a member of mensa. As an entrepreneur, it is important to remember that you don’t have to be an expert in every field. If you are running a startup and you are your team, it makes sense to get advice from a wiser ‘head’ to keep that marketing faux pas at bay.

If you don’t understand Google Adwords, reach out to someone who has experience in running Google Adword campaigns. There are many contacts you can connect with via networking on sites like LinkedIn. Many of these individuals will happily share advice for free. Need help writing a press release? Again, there are many experienced individuals you can reach out to. You may find treating someone to lunch for five minutes of advice may save you from making costly marketing mistakes.

If you have done all the hard work to get your business idea out of your head and created a business, do you really want to risk it? By choosing not to lean on advice from more experienced individuals, you are potentially only one step away from a marketing faux pas that could kill your reputation and business.



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One month on from Black Pound Day, where is your startup?



One month on from Black Pound Day, where is your startup?

27th June 2020 saw the launch of Black Pound Day in the UK. Picked up by a receptive audience on the back of #BlackLivesMatter news coverage, Black Pound Day created many talking points about black businesses in the UK. One of the talking points which resonated with me centered on black entrepreneurs and the perceived lack of support for black-owned businesses.


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