Struggling to set up a new business in the Covid era


2020 did the dirty on us. We headed into the new decade with an air of optimism, mistakenly thinking that things couldn’t get much worse – that there had to be a brighter future ahead of us – but we were soon proved wrong… very wrong.

The pandemic soon eradicated that erroneous thought. It cleared the streets, closed businesses and isolated us in our homes, making us communicate through a screen and shop online, only venturing out to exercise, armed with only a sanitiser and mask. Society changed over a few short months, a change that will have repercussions for many years to come, financially, socially and politically. But out of this slough of despond, businesses flocked online to connect with their customers in new and exciting ways. One of the businesses supporting this transition was About Now Ltd. The brainchild of three creatives, bringing together very different skillsets to help companies compete in this turbulent world.

new business

It all started when Mike Chavez-Dawson contacted Dr John Rowe and Vince Patterson to put together a couple of social media posts for a property development company. What was supposed to be a fairly innocuous request turned into a major project involving a full rebrand, a whole new website and full social media coverage. This happened as the first lockdown was grinding the UK to a halt, with people struggling with the new normal. It became apparent that what Mike, John and Vince were working on could help businesses survive and thrive in a COVID-filled world.

Pioneering Datasmiths Crafting Analytics to Power Business

About Now wryly define themselves as pioneering datasmiths crafting analytics to power business. However you define them, the three emerge from seemingly different worlds to have a profound impact on the business scene. Mike is an award-winning artist, curator and consultant in the art and design sector, having worked with big names, including TATE galleries, ICA, Barbican, The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Art Galleries, HOME and The Walker Art Gallery. John, however, is a former academic, gaining his PhD studying Jacques Derrida and Nagarjuna, a second century Buddhist thinker. He then went on to establish a successful proofreading, editing and copywriting business, working with a wide range of clients, from Harley Street Gynaecologists and the Hospital Group to accountancy firms. The final datasmith is Vince, who is an established design consultant and educator. He pairs a comprehensive knowledge of design practices with marketing and conceptual nouse to create unique identities for brands along with clear direction and strategy. The triumvirate have not had an easy time of it, having to deal with childcare issues, Vince becoming the father of yet another baby and working their day jobs to keep the new business afloat, but they felt and urgent need to support businesses and do what they could to help.

manchester business

Online business has been a lifeline for many struggling to keep afloat at a time where more than 20,000 businesses went bust in March 2020 alone. Retail analysts predict that COVID will add £5.3bn to e-commerce sales in 2020, with the sector significantly exceeding pre-pandemic growth predictions. But John, the Director of About Now Ltd, recognises the challenge that this sets for those less competent with technology:

For businesses that need a website, going online for the first time can feel like a huge step. But while it’s pretty much a given these days that retailers need an effective e-commerce offering, it’s not down to the people running those retailers to understand how to make that happen. That’s our job.[i]

The motivation for John, Mike and Vince was to take on the technical burden and give businesses a fighting chance. They use tools to analyse a site to find out what is needed and also to understand what competitors are doing, leveraging this arcane knowledge to their clients’ advantage.

Although 2020 has thrown us a curve ball or epic proportions, we’ve got a few good batsmen ready to knock it out of the park.

The team from About Now will be reporting from the digital frontline for Flux with monthly musings and dynamic delights on their journey, with SEO and visibility tips for business. Check out their website for more information


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