Working from home

8 tips for Freelancers & Small Business to stay ahead during lockdown

As with any shift in the economy; Freelancers, Sole Traders and Small Business are usually the first to feel the impact. The fallout of COVID-19 and resulting stimulus initiatives (in Australia) seem to have overlooked the “gig economy” – there’s no doubt we are in for a bumpy ride, but let’s embrace this situation as an opportunity.

As Freelancers/Sole Traders and Small Business owners, we have the advantage of working flexible hours and control over the direction of our careers, while being well adept at the peaks and troughs that come with entrepreneurship. This agile approach is also a massive advantage to rapidly adapt our business model to the circumstances.

Whether you are an Artist, Consultant, Graphic Designer, Content Creator/Influencer, Musician or Tutor, these tips will help you keep busy during the lean times, stay positive, and emerge with a stronger business.

Inspiring home office

#1 – Catch up on administration

Chances are, you’ve been so busy hustling, that your admin work has been neglected. This is the time to catch up on old invoices, file those old tax returns, update your balance sheet and you’ll not only have a clean slate for when work picks up again (and it will!) – you’ll also have a clear idea of your business’ financial health, to help navigate your next moves.

Hot tip: Check with your Accountant if you’re eligible to claim a portion of your living expenses (rent, utilities, etc), with the increased time working from home.

#2 – Create an inspiring workspace & boost productivity

For freelancers and full time employees, working from home will become more commonplace beyond the self isolation and quarantine periods. Creating a dedicated, well-designed workspace will help keep you motivated, inspired and maintain your physical health. Free: declutter your desk, rearrange the office, hang up inspiring pictures. Small budget: Try repainting the walls, buy an indoor plant, invest in an ergonomic chair or standing desk (check with your accountant if you can partially claim these expenses on your Tax Return).

Video conferencing via Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom will be a core part of connecting with clients and keeping your business afloat. When improving your workspace, consider the backdrop for video calls – neutral coloured walls always look professional. Position your video camera near ample natural light and at eye level (for the most flattering angle).

Further reading:

#3 – Increase the online capacity or your business

Find innovative ways to move your business online and diversify your income. We’ve seen restaurants rapidly adapt their operating models to cater for takeaway food/isolation survival packs, closed fashion events broadcast online (potentially reaching larger audiences) and gyms live streaming classes.

If you are a Consultant who hustles at industry events, find out where these potential connections are hanging out online (Facebook groups, forums, LinkedIn).

If you are a Photographer, think of services you can offer outdoors or earn a passive income from, like prints and stock imagery.

If you have traditionally advertised via print media, try social media and targeted Facebook advertising.

If you are a freelance Make-up Artist / Hairdresser – create some online tutorials on Youtube and earn revenue.

If you are a Musician, broadcast a free concert on Instagram or Facebook live and link to your online shop and Spotify/iTunes page.

If you offer Tuition, pre-record some lessons and upload on your website (behind a paywall) or Youtube channel.

The possibilities are endless!

#4 – Alternative ways to find work

Contract/temp work will be touch-and-go as the situation unfolds. Be the person that larger companies call for overflow work. If you don’t have many connections, sign up to a recruitment agency to find gig/temp work. If you want to retain your autonomy, extra work could be picked up on apps like AirTasker.

#5 – Create a Social Media Content Plan

Posting on a daily basis is time consuming, but scheduling your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter content in advance optimises productivity and gives you more time to focus on your business. There are plenty of resources online, I recommend:

#6 – Work on a personal project

Have an idea for an app or online store? Ever wanted to use your skills to help a charity organisation? Got an artistic endeavour you’ve always wanted to pursue? Use this down time to work on your personal project / side hustle. The skills you learn from your side project, will not only give you a sense of control during these volatile times, but they can inform your main business in ways you cannot expect.

Further reading: The Importance of the Side Hustle

#7 – Upskill, upskill, upskill

In parts of the creative industry, there has been a trend towards hiring specialists over the past few years. During these uncertain times, for a freelancer or sole trader to remain competitive, generalists will have the greater advantage.

Now is the perfect time to expand your skills and become that unicorn everyone wants to work with. Buy some books from Amazon, binge on Podcasts, subscribe to online course providers like Treehouse or LinkedIn Learning, study a degree or diploma online… and then there is always the University of Youtube.

#8 – Look out for others & yourself!

These are unprecedented times. Many of us will be feeling overwhelmed and facing financial stress. Look after your health, keep up your exercise routine as best you can, meditate, be creative, read a book, connect with friends on Facetime, make time for your hobbies/passions, and let’s support each other as best as we can. X

Got any tips? Post them in the comments.
Images: Shutterstock

© 2020 Naomi Rahim. All rights reserved.