While many businesses struggled to navigate lockdown, Stuart Barker, Director of ALLOWLIST, explains how it gave him the time he needed to step back and to put his plans into practice.

Creating the internet’s only, one of its kind, one-stop-shop for cyber security solutions where suppliers are due diligence checked, ranged, rated and reviewed, the new business has already gone global and introduced nearly £1m in work to its members in just 6 months.

Stuart comments: “The business came about because of COVID-19. Without the opportunity of the lockdown, the idea that had been on our minds for some time would never have gotten off the ground. A chance Zoom party raised the suggestion again during lockdown and we said, you know what? Let’s just do it.

“We took advantage of furlough to allow us to try something else. We looked at how the market was changing, found a niche, and adapted. Finding a niche allowed us to buck the trends. Finding that gap in the market. People want more work, and we find and bring them that work.”

What surprised Stuart and his team most was the fact that no one else had thought to create ‘the Amazon of cyber security products’ and that they were the first to market.

He comments: “Seeing the niche in the market and the gap, it became a no-brainer. When we asked, ‘surely someone must have done this’ and found that actually, no, they hadn’t, that was the catalyst. Creating the business became a passion and a reality.”

Although the new venture has given Stuart something to focus on during a challenging year, he explains that the impact lockdown has had on colleagues has certainly been felt.

He comments: “Isolation has been the biggest challenge. Having worked like this for nearly a decade on a personal level, it was easier to adapt but seeing how this has impacted colleagues is heart breaking. The knock-on effects of redundancy and job loss has created a massive upturn in mental health issues.

“What the pandemic has done is reinforce the need for a work life balance. It is easy to get sucked into the time sink of social media as a distraction that then takes over your life. Once in the rabbit hole it is hard to come back. Family must come first, and we should never underestimate the power of human contact.”

Given the success that Stuart has achieved in just 6 months, the future looks encouraging for 2021 and onwards. He explains how in that short time things have changed for the better.

He comments: “During 2021 we will continue to grow and expand into more geographies. Our model has adapted and changed over 6 months, but we are now starting to settle down. We are more comfortable in what we offer and our message. If we can get people back into work, which we do for free, or bring business to companies that need it, then we have done our job.”

Although there has been a lot of positive news to share about ALLOWLIST, Stuart makes it clear that there are lessons he has learnt as a result of lockdown, particularly that we are all stronger together.

“The lesson is that you cannot do this alone. Any of it. From business to personal life you need a strong community and strong support network. Speak to someone. Be sure to speak about how you are feeling, what you are going through and the impact it is having on you. You are not alone. Speak out.”

We think that this is great advice and is something that we should all do more. For further information about ALLOWLIST please visit: https://allowlist.io/



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