Chris had always dreamt of working full-time as a magician. When an employment contract ended in 2019, he decided to make a leap and with the help of The Prince’s Trust, became self-employed. Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, he is thriving as a magician and loving every second.

“I’ve always wanted to do magic as a business, but I never really had the confidence to do it. When I first applied to The Prince’s Trust, I was recently unemployed as a job contract had just ended. I thought, what am I doing next? I decided it was time to put all my eggs in my basket! Reaching out to The Prince’s Trust gave me the confidence and the knowhow to start my business.”

It was listening to a podcast with the magician Dynamo that inspired me to contact The Prince’s Trust. He was supported by The Prince’s Trust, and other magicians and performers have too. I researched the Enterprise programme and it sounded perfect, just what I needed in that moment.

“I had a plan in place and lots of support from my family, so when I decided to become a magician, I had the impetus and drive. But it was still really nerve-racking! I was anxious, because chasing your dream is a scary prospect. After calling The Prince’s Trust, I joined the four-day Explore Enterprise Course. I met other young people in a similar situation to me, who all wanted to achieve something beyond what they could dream. It was inspiring and motivating to hear their stories and it made everything feel more attainable and less isolating.”

“Those four days were amazing. They were intense, and a lot of hard work, but so rewarding. The staff were amazing, and it was the right mix of practical and theory. We had an inspirational speaker talk about their journey and I was left with the sense that if you don’t dream big, you’re not going to achieve big. Starting your own business is a big risk, but I didn’t want to look back and regret not taking the chance to follow my dream.”

“When I walked out of that four-day course, I had the foundations of a business that I could tangibly go out and start. The first thing to do was write a business plan and after just four days, I knew what I needed to do to write that sustainable business plan and it felt very powerful and inspiring.”

“At the end of the Enterprise programme, I attended the Business Launch Group. It’s like a mini–Dragon’s Den with much nicer people! I was grilled about my business plan, but I felt prepared and proud of my plan. The interviewers were so complimentary and gave me so much confidence. I also had support from Prince’s Trust staff and my Next Steps mentor. I left feeling confident that people who knew much more about business than me were saying, you’re good to go!”

“After my time on the Enterprise programme officially ended, the support never dwindled. I joined the Boost Your Business programme and was paired with another mentor. Joan from The Prince’s Trust was phenomenal and found such brilliant speakers for all the business support sessions. We learnt from Facebook, Google and Apple - these businesses just don’t offer that usually. I would walk away from those sessions feeling so inspired. They were completely free, and I was able to attend 3 or 4 a month. I knew that any help I needed, The Prince’s Trust would be able to pair me up with someone who could help.”

I officially registered as self-employed in November 2019, and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and my upcoming plans were wiped out. My mentor Tracy was so supportive at that time. She encouraged me to pivot and consider moving my business online. I had no idea if it would work, but test shows for my friends were successful. Then I felt ready to build something virtually. The Prince’s Trust had prepared me to always look for a new opportunity, pivot quickly and adapt to a new plan.

“I was able to get a grant from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund at the start of the pandemic, which I invested in high quality equipment including a camera, lights and a microphone. All of this enabled me to lift the quality of my online shows, and I didn’t just survive – I thrived. My first online show was May 2020 and since then I’ve done 160 virtual magic shows for my dream clients including Amazon, Netflix and NBC Universal.”

For the future, I’m keeping a hybrid working model. I will continue to offer virtual shows, as it means companies can offer staff team socials even when colleagues are spread across the world. I also enjoy being able to work from home, with less travel and more shows. However, I’m looking forward to being able to perform in person events again too.

“From the first initial call, every single member of staff at The Prince’s Trust has been friendly, kind and genuinely invested in seeing me succeed. If you’re nervous about the first hurdle of contacting them, remember that their whole design and ethos is to help people who are feeling a little unsure, so you’re in exactly the right place. As soon as you reach out, you’ll be kicking yourself for not doing earlier. It will be the best thing you ever do.