There will always be periods of change and uncertainty, but the pandemic has caused an incredible upheaval in terms of the way we usually do things.
Remote working seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we’re being much more mindful of our spending.
Even for those of us who have managed to remain open and working, business as a whole is still on the decline, and it’s clear that adaptation is key to staying afloat and pushing forward.
As a newbie freelancer, I set up my small business at the end of last year.
Back then, I had a reasonable amount of funds to keep me going for the next few months and I was concentrating on building up my client base slowly.
Truth be told, I was a little too relaxed.
I watched countless Christmas movies, treated myself to a few too many lunch dates, and spent my days with my feet up and pyjamas on.
Unfortunately, as you can imagine, that wasn’t quite paying the bills.
So, when the new year hit, I started to get serious. I met potential clients in London and watched my hours steadily increase.
And of course, just as I was getting into the swing of things, we headed into lockdown — and within a few days, a handful clients I had only recently become acquainted with, knocked me off the books.
If I’d have been in a different mindset, I might have given up there and then.
But I was certain I would never return to the office 9–5 grind that I had so desperately escaped from.
Fast forward to now, and I have more clients (and funds) than ever. So, how did I get here and what can you do to stabilize your business right now?
1. Watch your outgoings
The first thing to do is keep tab of your expenses and see if you can make any reasonable cuts or adjustments. Maybe you can defer certain payments such as rent and utility bills, or perhaps you’re employing a marketing strategy that hasn’t been yielding much in the way of positive results. Whatever you do, don’t make any rash decisions that will negatively affect the cash flow of your business in the long-haul. Look at both the short-term and long-term effects and decide accordingly.
2. Get social
With operations switching to the online world, there has never been more of a pressing need to stay up-to-date with current social media trends. More customers than ever will be there. If you’re not already on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, create a profile and get active. I’ve found half of my client base through Facebook groups and via LinkedIn. Reach out to fellow business owners and offer support, post helpful tips, and keep interacting. You never know what may come from these communications further down the line.
3. Ask for recommendations/referrals
Many of us running our own businesses don’t think about referrals. We might assume our clients will pass along good feedback about us or maybe we just feel uncomfortable asking for it. I get it — I’ve been there. The problem is, we’re actually missing out on one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to generate new business. The worst thing a client can say is ‘no’. So, the next time you’re in voice communication with one of your clients, drop it into the conversation and ask if they know of anyone else who would be interested in what you do. If not, ask if they might be willing to leave a LinkedIn recommendation instead.
As business owners, we should never stop learning. We should always be looking for ways to diversify our skills and develop new ideas. As a virtual assistant, I’ve found that some of the main services my clients require are to do with marketing. As such, I’ve honed in on my social media and Mailchimp skills so I can create engaging social posts and newsletters. Think about the needs of your customers and what would benefit them most.
And most importantly? Stay positive and keep your head up. It’s a challenging and overwhelming time and whilst we’re not all in the same boat, we’re in the same storm.
Think outside the box, stay agile, and look for the opportunities — I assure you they’re out there.