When you’re self-employed, you have to be adaptable. There are so many unknowns that come along with running your own business. And it’s one thing to be prepared – to have a sort of backup plan, to have your savings put aside in case of emergencies, to understand that your business is going to fluctuate throughout the year. But sometimes, the unexpected happens. And what do you do then?
Maybe you lost a big account out of nowhere, or maybe your client decides to go in-house and they just don’t need your services anymore. Sometimes there’s a global pandemic that changes everything.
And when that happens, you have choices. You can either sit back and wait to see what happens, wait for the work to come back to you, or you can be proactive and decide what your new normal is going to be.
I know that’s easier said than done. When things are good, you’re not necessarily thinking about some theoretical solution to a problem that hasn’t even happened. And when you’re busy, it can be hard to find the time to those things that you want to do to grow your business, to find new clients, and all that other fun stuff.
If you’re anything like me, you have a giant to do list of things you want to do, but sometimes it’s really hard to get to that when you’re fortunate enough to be busy with paying work already.
And it can get comfortable sometimes when work is good, the clients are calling you, you don’t actually have to do any work because you have plenty of it. But when you get complacent in that, it can get dangerous because, again, the unexpected can happen and you want to be at least a little bit prepared and able to figure out what you’re going to do when that happens.
A lot of us are going through the same things right now. Our businesses changed with no warning and we’re trying to figure out what to do. I’m right there with you. A lot of the work I do is in video production, live events, it requires travel, all of these things which aren’t possible right now.
And I should give you a disclaimer because please understand I am not unsympathetic to what anyone is going through right now. I do tend to take more of a logical approach with things, and I can be a little “tough love” at times, but I do understand that people are having a really hard time right now. And that’s normal, and that’s to be expected, and that’s okay.
What I’ve been seeing a lot of these days are two different camps. There’s this one side where people aren’t really doing a whole lot of anything. They want work to come back the way it was and they’re just kind of sitting back and waiting to see what happens. Then there’s this other side of people who are adapting. They’re using this time to learn, to figure out new ways to offer services, and to actually grow their businesses even though it’s a little bit weird out there. Now, everyone has to make their own decisions and figure out what’s right for themselves, but taking the proactive approach of adapting and expanding can really benefit you and your business when things do get back to normal… whatever normal might be.
I’ve been fortunate because I’ve been working towards more of an online model for quite some time. Now, obviously sometimes production requires me to be on set to make sure that everything is running smoothly. But most of what I do can be done from anywhere. And that’s how I prefer it. I work much better and more efficiently in my own space by myself. Not everyone is like that, so again you always have to find what’s right for you.
Sometimes when you adapt, you also have to educate your clients about how to adapt. When they’re used to doing things a certain way, it can take a bit of effort and finesse to get them to be open to trying something new. But sometimes you can show them a better way.
When I started offering production services remotely, a lot of people thought I was crazy. “You can’t do production remotely; you have to be on set!” But I’ve shown them that I can, and it actually benefits them. When I’m working from home or wherever I am, I incur more of the expenses for myself. So my client doesn’t have to pay the extra overhead, they don’t have to fly me somewhere, or put me up in a hotel room, or feed me. And, sometimes it’s better to be in a separate location because when you’re on set, things get really chaotic and messy and you’re getting pulled in a lot of different directions. And sometimes if there’s somebody on set that’s dealing with all of those fires, it helps to have somebody somewhere else who can be really super-focused on getting all of the other details under control.
And by figuring out this new way to do things, it saves me time, it allows me to work with more people and get more done because I’m not spending time going from one place to another. There’s a lot of time that gets eaten up getting ready to go to work, commuting somewhere, and just dealing with all the distractions and niceties of talking to people, and you know, those things. People miss that right now. I get it.
Now a lot of people have been coming around to Zoom and the idea of working from home and they’re finding that there are better and more productive ways to work.
And that’s what happens when you adapt. Even when you’re forced to adapt and it wasn’t necessarily your choice. Sometimes when you have to do things a different way, you find better ways of doing things and you can continue to do things that way even when things recover or get back to normal.
And the thing that we have to remember is that we don’t know what the new normal is going to be, so we might have to continue to adapt as things change and evolve. And that’s part of owning a business. Things change, things evolve, and the best thing that you can do is keep moving forward.