How to keep your freelance business going through Coronavirus
According to The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE), 91% of freelancers are concerned about Coronavirus and the impact it will have on their solo business.
Further stats show 69% have seen demand for their work decline and 45% will have to close their freelance business if they don't receive support in the next 3 months.
If you're one of the many freelancers concerned about keeping the wheels turning, help is out there. There are things you can do right now, and months in the future, to recover your business or even change it for the better.
Get all the government help you can
Lots of freelancers sighed with relief in March when the Chancellor announced that many would be able to claim 80% of their average monthly earnings as part of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. It was also announced the scheme wouldn't be available until early June, which felt like a long way off for many.
Get ready to apply if your business has suffered as a result of Coronavirus and you need income support. You're eligible if you're a sole trader with complete tax returns for 2018-19, you traded in 2019-20, and you plan to keep trading in 2020-21.
Focus on the work that's still available
The top worries for freelancers, according to IPSE's research, are delayed or cancelled contracts and losing clients.
Worry is inevitable but very distracting. If you were promised work that's not materialised, refocus your time and energy on any clients and work you've been able to keep. Make sure your calendar is carefully planned out so you'll meet deadlines, maintain client relationships with phone calls and Zoom calls, and keep your working routine active. If you don't have to down your tools, don't!
What if all your work has stopped...
Some freelancers have seen all their clients disappear because they're cutting their own costs or Coronavirus has forced them to stop trading. It's a really hard position to be in both mentally and financially, but you can slowly rebuild.
Competition is now tougher on freelancer bidding platforms like People Per Hour. If you're comfortable with it and can afford to do it, you could reduce your usual rates to win new business. Don't be tempted to do it too much though!
Alternatively, you could use this time to fall back on other skills, learn new ones, or work on side projects you usually don't have time for. Instead of seeing this as treading water or a deviation, see it as a brief side step. The more you do now, the more resources and skills you'll have ready to go when life returns to some kind of normal.
Keep talking to other freelancers
One saving grace is you're far from alone. Whatever you're struggling with, there'll be other self-employed people going through exactly the same thing and lots who have it worse.
Use social media to keep chatting to your network. Share your woes, listen to theirs, have coffee together, give each other tips and ideas. Problems shared are problems halved. You can help yourself and help others at the same time.
Don't be afraid to look ahead
Some people are deliberately not thinking about the future at the moment because it's so uncertain - you could be one of them. How can we possibly know when things will be back to normal, and what would that normal even look like?
Setting strict long-term goals and deadlines for yourself and your business will just frustrate, but flexible plans, hopes, and dreams can be motivating.
Has Covid-19 highlighted what's wrong with the way you work? Has it encouraged you to end specific relationships or start new ones? Think carefully about what you want your business to look like in 2021 and beyond. Now's the time to start shaping it, even if it's only very loosely.
Free and easy invoicing
The last thing you probably want to think about now is invoicing, but getting paid on time is more important than it's ever been.
With Solna, invoicing is FREE and an absolute doddle. Your clients can pay directly from the invoice, getting you paid 3x faster on average. Give it a go, it costs nothing!