Things I've Learned About Setting Up In A Pandemic
I can’t tell you what it’s like to start up in any other situation but I can tell you what I’ve learned from setting up in a challenging time, which, if you’re thinking about doing the same, will hopefully give you the inspiration you need to take that step into the unknown.
There is no good time to start - seriously, if we tried to find the perfect time to go ahead no one would start a business. Getting yourself into a good position is possible and good practice for sure. Whether that’s with savings or a cushion to help you with living costs or indeed checking whether you’re on the right tracks (link to blog) but if you wait for the perfect time, you’ll be waiting forever.
If not now then when, if not me then who - speaks for itself. Just because no one else is doing it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done or isn’t wanted. Once you’ve started to think about doing something, it’s very hard to get it out of your mind and nothing else will satisfy you. If you don’t get this feeling, it might not be right for you.
Take time to build the essentials - a national lockdown and a global pandemic gave me the space and time I needed to get all my essentials together. While established businesses were panicking about how they could adapt their services and people to this new lifestyle, i was putting my efforts in putting together a website, understanding my offerings and my T&Cs for example. If we were in “normal” times, I would have been running around networking, going to events, pitching and trying to get clients in without paying attention to the working essentials needed because my focus would’ve been on bringing in business and not making sure I was ready for business.
Networking is important - this has been the hardest part. It’s so important for small or new businesses to have access to a greater network of potential audience and cold calling/email is difficult to stand out.
Adaptation is the key - being resourceful and using your own network for introductions or building another network is important in challenging times when events are not as available as they used to be.
Written proposals need to be strong - pitching is challenging over the phone but not impossible. It’s not as natural or as easy flowing as in person, which means when you send over your hard copy proposal it better be on point. Even in good times, this is something tangible that your client will have at hand to refer to. Make sure it looks good, is clear and has the right information in it.
Don’t sit at your desk to work on your business - you need to mix it up because if you’re at your desk, you don’t get a fresh perspective. You don’t have colleagues or a change of scenery anymore so you need to create that artificially. How you do that is up to you but if you’re trying to get into the mind of potential customers you need to be away from the place that you work at for your clients. The sofa, the kitchen table, the garden, anywhere really, just mix it up to invigorate that creative business thinking.
Know that your position has changed - if you are coming from an agency, you’ll be quite used to understanding the client/agency relationship but if you’re coming from client side, you have to remember that you are now agency side and that’s how people see you! You have to think like a contractor even if you are offering the equivalent of in-house services because you are now a contractor.
There is always work - there is always clients to be found and helped. You just need to know where to look and be open to widening your net. Opportunities turn up when you least expect them and may not be something you thought you would be doing but if it’s complementary, it pays to not stick rigidly to the original plan.
Working on your business is hard - but so important! Do not neglect it. You need to adapt, grow and be aware of the opportunities when they present themselves as well as your weak points to improve and strengths to promote.
You may also be interested in The Startup Journey: Understanding The Business Set Up
What are the key things you've learned about yourself or your business in challenging times? Share in the comments.