Launching a new business in lockdown When lockdown came into force in late March it precipitated an enormous change in working practices for many people. In a matter of days, office-based employees were sent home with their computers, many businesses switched (as much as possible) to offering their services online and life as we knew changed immeasurably. But what if you were establishing a burgeoning business when lockdown hit? Below, Dr Beverley Duguid elaborates on her own experience of starting her wellness initiative, InsightMind, and how her approach has changed as a result of the COVID19 pandemic: I had first started thinking about the idea of setting up my own business in Summer 2019. Focussing on wellbeing, the business would tie in with a book I am writing about mindfulness and sight loss, and it would help to build a network of interested people prior to the book’s publication. In preparation for setting up what would become InsightMind, I took a business course at Portobello Business Centre, which made me realise that my skillset was perfect for offering online courses. Online courses would allow me to offer much more than just meditation, expanding my business strands to include creative writing and poetry classes, and even yoga through collaboration with other practitioners. Meditation is one of the most popular ways people combat stress in the UK, followed closely by yoga, and these practices fit very well within the wellness sector. Popular as these practices are, there is also a need for more inclusivity in the wellness sector, and my business would also offer visual awareness training to practitioners keen on making their courses and classes as inclusive as possible. By February 2020, I was ready to up InsightMind, a wellness initiative by and for people with vision impairments. I have a vision impairment myself, and the work of InsightMind is designed to be inclusive for and sensitive to the needs of blind and partially sighted people. The aim of InsightMind is to ‘help you find clarity with compassion and kindness’ through mindfulness-based practices. In March, the world went into lockdown. As the world retreated indoors, I used mindfulness to help me cope with the chaos outside and the first few panicky days of lockdown. Of course, lockdown also meant that many traditional businesses were forced to close or adapt – and quickly. I realised it would be impossible to offer some of the things I had planned, but I knew that much of what I intended to offer through InsightMind would work well over video conference. Furthermore, my mindfulness practice had been a significant benefit to me in coping with lockdown, and I knew that through InsightMind I could help other people access these benefits too. I started InsightMind with the purpose of helping others. So, I decided to launch my website during lockdown (earlier than planned) to offer mindfulness-based meditation. These practices would be a way to help people through this stressful and difficult time. Lockdown has also helped me to push myself: in the last seven weeks I’ve built a regularly updated mindfulness resources page, started providing intuitive coaching, and mindfulness using the Zoom platform. Currently on the website is a recorded guided mediation, and I have also developed a three-part online ‘How to start meditation’ course, with much more in the pipeline for the future. As you might imagine, my book took a back seat through lockdown as I busied myself with developing and launching InsightMind. But I’ve been very fortunate to receive an Emergency Response Fund from the Arts Council to finish my memoir, meaning I will be balancing my InsightMind work with some writing over the next couple of months. For information about one to one meditation and other online courses please email Dr Beverley Duguid on: [email protected] Visit her website here, and her Twitter here.