The pandemic is here to stay. That’s an unfortunate reality several of us are digesting, probably still unable to digest. While it has been fraught with trauma, pain, and grief, it has also been challenging for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and artists.
Whether you are based in India, Asia, or the rest of the world, there is no immediate relief in sight for small business owners and entrepreneurs. How does one tackle this uncertainty and continue creating content, products, and services?
If there is one thing to take away from the world being locked up in their homes, it is that businesses and entrepreneurs need to be adaptable. How can you do that? Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Tina is in her mid-40s, runs a small, niche, but successful bakery and sweets shop in Melbourne. Her clientele is loyal and through word of mouth, the bakery generates enough revenue to keep Tina going. In mid-2020, the city was shut down and all ‘non-essential’ businesses were told to close their doors till further notice. With a mortgage, a family to feed, and children to educate, Tina was left clueless.
Tina was forced to depend on Government payments and try to manage ends by stretching her budget. It was also frustrating to see her skills go waste and a business built by hard work languish. Tina’s son James suggested that she start taking local orders and they deliver it personally. It would be extra work but it was needed during this challenging time. James created a Facebook page, Instagram and TikTok account for Tina’s bakery and announced to the neighbouring suburbs that Tina was accepting orders.
The family also decided to pitch in. Tina’s young daughter was the defacto helper, sous chef, and packer. James and Tina’s husband did the deliveries in their free times. As bakeries were shut for months and people needed cakes for birthdays and events, speciality and bigger cakes became her bestsellers. Tina started to expand her cakes range, offering discounts, and even making breakfast items for weekends so people would be tempted to experiment. James used TikTok to show ‘behind the scenes’ of baking, decorating, and videos to keep audiences intrigued.
This is a great example of hyper-local businesses using social media and e-commerce to adapt to a fluctuating situation. Tina’s product range was such that could be personalised and adapted to a situation when there was a lack of user experience and customer service possibilities.
Before we move on to the next point, what about businesses that can’t be translated online or go digital? What about photography, films, sales, fitness, etc? How do these industries practice adaptability?
If your industry is a static one, one that relies on face-to-face experiences, on location performances, and local focus, then you can find extensions of your existing services or products? Photographers can try virtual sessions, offer training classes, or use people/products at home to keep creating new work. Fitness studio owners or personal trainers can offer online classes, newer workout plans that can be performed at home, and group sessions so people still feel the sense of community.
The key thing to remember is that it is possible to adapt your product or service if you push hard enough. We understand it is frustrating and can also be financially demanding, but if you can pivot and continue to produce consistently then it can be rewarding.
It is not over yet. We don’t even know when it will be over. So, all entrepreneurs need to have patience. For freelancers and independent contractors, it can be stressful as we don’t have a regular source of income and savings to dip on. The stress can cause us to panic and start taking jobs or roles that may underpay or be extremely unsuitable for our skills.
How can you develop and practice patience? Use your time off well. If you have no option but to sit at home, then do not wonder about the future or stress. Take it one day at a time. Every person has their individual way of coping and you know best what you need. Focus on your family, partner, or hobbies. Relax, try something new, and think of it as a vacation. You will get back to writing, creating, and producing soon. Rely on this time as a break and look for new inspiration.
Many entrepreneurs, freelancers, and business owners are utilising this time to upskill. They are learning new, relevant skills and practicing updating their knowledge. LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy, and Google are some great resources to try free or paid courses. You can update your resume by doing short courses or commit to it by joining a full-time online course. Think proactively of skills that will come handy in your future and how the course can act as a tool for your success.
Upskilling will also allow you to keep busy if you are stuck at home and it can help you network with other students, faculty members, and peers. Several freelancers have realised that a degree or education during the past year has come extremely useful in acquiring new skills, clients, and resources.
The essence of any business is to be pragmatic. Idealistic and naive expectations harm your potential and present. Understand that the pandemic and it’s after effects are going to ripple through our lives for a while.
Engage with your clients and discuss potential solutions and alternatives. Converse with your employees and partners to make them aware about your limitations and finances. Lockdowns come at the last minute, leaving businesses scrambling. If you have faced that in the past, be prepared and have backups. Leave space for changes, alterations, and virtual movement.
Businesses can tide over this time if they combine practicality with out of the box thinking.
We are offering resources, support, and a community for entrepreneurs, business owners, and freelancers struggling to work during these challenging times. Write to us or leave a comment to give your business a shoutout.