Hopeful Thoughts for Self-Employed Professionals Dealing with the COVID19 Crisis
Apr 15, 2020
There is no point in pretending otherwise: times are tough, and they will continue to be tough for a while. AND there is also no point in pretending that there is nothing that we can do to pivot towards solutions.
The health crises will pass eventually, and the economy will bounce back in time. There may even be a surge in activity as we all release our pent-up anxiety and frustration by going out and treating ourselves just a little bit by going out to eat, spending on entertainment and buying goods and services again.
As individuals, the question is: How can we position ourselves to weather the crisis and bounce back strong?
I believe many of us can do quite a bit to act now and set ourselves up for future success. There is a pattern to the way self-employed people respond to crises and economic downturns, whether they are caused by personal setbacks or world events.
Over the years, I have seen that the ones who bounce back the fastest and the farthest act differently throughout the challenges than those who have a harder time gaining their footing again.
Who am I to say all this? I am not an expert in this kind of economic downturn, no one is. Our situation is unprecedented. But I HAVE been running my own businesses since 1989, and I have been a small business coach, marketing coach and speaking coach for the last 20 years.
I have coached, either one-one or in small groups over 4000 business owners and have seen first-hand their struggles and triumphs. I have lived through recessions as a business owner, I have bounced back from extreme personal struggles as a business owner, and during the economic crisis of 2008, I had the duty and honor to help dozens of other business owners navigate the maze of stress and struggle.
Some did not do well at all, but many more came through stronger than ever and used the opportunity to re-think, re-calibrate, and re-commit to businesses and brilliance.
So, if you are self-employed and freaking out about it today, I humbly offer some advice that I hope helps:
Now is NOT the time to hide and ride it out watching Netflix. Connect and Serve MORE. Especially in ways that are not on Social Media. Pick up the phone, do a private video conference call, write a long email. Give your clients, ex-clients, colleagues, and extended community the gift of time and attention. Do it without asking for ANYTHING in return.
Remember your deeper purpose, and why you do the work you do. You could have chosen an easier path than being self-employed. You didn’t. And at least part of that choice was probably because you believe what you do helps people or solves a problem. Remember that. Focus on that. You have value to share that the world needs. Don’t let stress or greed or fear disconnect you from your purpose. Even if you have to completely reinvent your business or your career, you can rise to the challenge if you stay connected to your core values and the gifts you can give the world.
Let go of your old business vision and be willing to re-think your plan. Our economy will bounce back, but it is highly unlikely it will look the same. People are being forced to change habits, and they are also changing psychologically. What worked before may not work now. As you serve, listen deeply to those around you. Your product and service offerings may need to change. Your marketing message and delivery systems will almost certainly change.
Stop hiding and stop being vague and confusing. Get brave and get organized! Many self-employed people either consciously or unconsciously hide from prospective clients. Their websites are non-existent or rarely updated. They can talk about what they do, but stumble when asked to describe the benefits consumers gain from working with them. They don’t have set prices or policies, or if they do, they make them hard to find. They under-communicate with clients about when and how work will be delivered, or they avoid uncomfortable conversations when changes need to be made to a project.
Now is the time to set yourself apart by taking the time to review your basic business structures and communication. This is an opportunity. Take a breath and take the time to upgrade your policies, procedures, and communication practices. If you want a big harvest, plant your corn in a nice, straight, row!
Be gentle with yourself and others and reach out for help when you need it. We are all in this together. And if we use our anxiety as a push to be braver, prouder, and more connected we will all thrive through this together.
Thanks for sharing in my thoughts about all this. What are yours? I would love to hear how you are weathering the storm!