Before you tell yourself, “I don’t have a choice…I have to go out and work right now…” or “There’s nothing I can do…” take a breath and pause.
Just telling yourself those words makes it less likely that you can create some choices for yourself – and heaven forbid you might live to regret them.
Self employment normally attracts creative people who are independent thinkers and not afraid to take up the challenge of going it alone. Don’t let the challenges of this difficult time take away your capacity to think.
When your brain hears the words “nothing” it will look for evidence that is true. So “nothing you can do” becomes more true because you say it out loud. Saying “I don’t have a choice” can actually limit your ability to create different choices.
I have heard the government are going to announce something by Friday about self-employment. So please be as patient as you humanly can. I know it is really hard as I am one of you. My paid work dried up entirely a week ago. But any day where we go out to work, because we don’t have anything concrete yet about what support we might be offered from the government, could be a day where we cost someone their life. Tough choices. These are tough times.
First to cash. Do a quick financial plan at home. I saved a few £100 in a couple of hours. I called Sky TV and changed my plan, amended some savings plans, cancelled a mobile phone direct debit I had totally forgotten about on upgrading at Christmas. I dug out some vouchers I’d been given for John Lewis and spent them on groceries at Waitrose. I even found a bit of a slush fund in my Pay Pal account. I decided to use part of that to pay for a 3 month subscription to The Big Issue. I might be about to experience some challenging times, but imagine being homeless right now.
There is plenty of advice on the internet and social media about how to work from home or use technology to do your job remotely. I’ve not repeated them here. I’ve focused on some other ideas to keep you busy, adapt your business, maybe save you some money, keep you sane in the short term and potentially create you some good business opportunities in the long term.
Firstly have a look at this.
I thought it would be a good idea to collect together people in my network who are self employed and small business owners who are happy to use their skills in this lull to provide you with some support on your skills, life and business so that you can use this time you might not be able to spend at work, productively and positively. Using this time to get healthier might get you way more years on your life to enjoy your work. Reviewing your finances might mean you don’t need to earn as much in the next 6 months. Finally publishing that book could be life changing. Being forced could mean that you take one step towards a new career that gives you more stability.
Let me know if you’d like to see any other skills on the list of Top Right People and I will get the network moving to find some additional really good contacts.
Here are some other things to think about in relation to your business:
You will have seen manufacturers changing what they make to produce ventilators. Is there something that you could do as a sole trader or independent that people will genuinely need or value?
Talk to anyone self-employed that you pay directly – your cleaners, child-minders, painter or decorator, your usual taxi-person. What could you do to bridge their earning gap?
Some of your suppliers might really surprise you – one of mine was happy to pay in advance for a training session we had to cancel and reschedule for 2021 to help me out. You might find that where you have offered genuine help and been flexible that they can now offer you some flexibility in return.
Your suppliers and customers can give you ideas too. Ask for feedback – what would they value right now that you could provide? One brilliant idea for what I could do, came from a client who I had called just to say hello to. I wasn’t looking for business, I had called just to check in with them as a person.
Think about your current product. Could you do it differently. I’m doing video training – even though the tech will be a challenge. My personal trainer is self employed and he is moving online (I can vouch for this working – I’ve been doing it for 6 months regardless of lock down) .
Think about what you can do – try not to dwell on what you can’t influence.
- Be Helpful for free
People will remember those people who helped because they could. Many of the businesses I work with are closed. But their people still need help to stay sane and think about their business after this. I can help with that. I need to be paid but without businesses to work with in the future, charging will be for short term gain.
We might look back and judge harshly those who sought to profiteer. Put Customer Service before Profit. Go back to the service profit chain and live it at the sharp end.
What could you do to just use your skills for the national effort?
- Use your profile for good.
Solving the self-employment question is really complicated. Rather than chase the government for answers they just don’t have yet, use your twitter profile or FB page to raise money for charity. My creative friend Mark Andrew is being productive by setting up a gofundme to provide NHS workers with shopping and toiletries direct to work and home so they can just go home after shift.
- Move job temporarily to add value
One heart-warming story of how the networks can help. Someone I know had a job offer which was withdrawn on the eve of his Day 1. He’s now working temporarily in a warehouse supplying NHS supplies thanks to help and contacts on Linked in and over 203k views later. I know of several people who have moved from hospitality to retail temporarily.
If you are self employed, see if you can do the same. If you really need to work, channel your energies into something the country really needs where there are already likely to be safeguarding measures in place to stop you passing the virus on.
- Don’t be UNHELPFUL
Getting out and about and busy because you are bored is not helping. Nor is selling people things they don’t want. If you really have nothing to do and it is bothering you, be patient. Take up online training, learn a language with an app, write a book, get your finances sorted, shop around for energy deals. Check out our TOP RIGHT PEOPLE for ideas on something you could do that is productive. Equally if you have nothing to do and actually you are quite enjoying it, great! Don’t feel guilty and take the time to smell the coffee and rest your brain.
- Take the Opportunity to Think
Use the pause – and the unprecedented nature of things as an opportunity to stop, think, review and potentially thrive.
Thinking about your customers, value proposition, suppliers, demand and so on could reveal some really interesting answers .
Ask yourself some TOP RIGHT QUESTIONS so that your business can come out stronger. Try these questions to get you started.
- Stay well.
Work helps us to contribute and to be sociable. All really important for mental health, so challenge yourself to stay fit and well – mentally and physically. I’ve written a blog on how to train your brain to think so that you send positive hormones and chemicals around your body and don’t catatrophise. Find yourself a new exercise regime you can do from home. Relax and take time out mindfully. Eat well. Learn something new at a slower pace. Get some of those jobs you have been avoiding done…You can’t tell yourself you don’t have time…!