The self employed/sole trader may not be here forever
What am I trying to say….
I’m not entirely sure I have my messaging right at this point but as I say I think this is a timely share given our current context.
In simple terms:
“If you have the means to pay for a service, even if it is offered for free, please pay. If we only take, it may not be there in the future….”
At this present time social media streams are filled with three key stories…
- Story 1: Everything online – hints, tips, free webinars
- Story 2: Gifts of talent – we/I can do X or Y for you (free/paid)
- Story 3: Please help – my work has been cancelled, I have nothing
All the these stories make me feel uneasy, particularly story No.3.
Story 1 – Everything online
Those who sit within story 1, you may not like to hear this but you (and I) are flooding the market. Clients are receiving 100’s of positive messages, offering a service to take their service online during these challenging times. I’m guessing the intention for all is to be helpful but what’s actually happening is:
- Clients are getting confused by the volume of options
- Clients are getting distracted by the multitude of hellos
- Clients are getting frustrated by the lack of personalisation
- Clients are stepping back from any engagement until things settle
So what you hoped would happen from your kind offer may actually push clients away. Additionally there will be a number of these messages that are pure sales driven with no individuality or real consideration for the client. Just a wide net generic mail shot rather than a personal connect.
Be the latter, trust ‘you’ and have the right conversations with existing and future clients that matter, a conversation that adds value from the hello. That offers value without purchase…
Story 2 – Gifts of talent
Just so you know, whilst you may be doing this with good intentions, becareful not to me clubbed in with the more ‘Sales’ driven providers you may find in story 1. Just one further point of guidance – offer what you are good at to the right people in your network, don’t throw your net so wide that you get lost in the generic offer of help. Get good at a particular medium for sharing with and developing others. Don’t risk losing a good reputation because you jumped in without knowing the platform you were using well enough to be the best you…
A message to the user, customer, client, consumer…
If you can afford to pay, please do. If you can’t afford to pay now, can you bank this in your memory to pay/reinvest later when things are good for you. If can’t pay now can you offer thanks/gratitude this can carry great weight. Here’s a little model of gratitude I mocked up:
- Level 1 – a direct thank you to the gift provider, expressing how it has helped (if it has helped). We like to know what we did well
- Level 2 – Level 1 + a public thank you to the gift giver which others may see. This open display of gratitude is supportive publicity
- Level 3 – level 2 + the reason for this service being of value, what has it helped you do better, how has it improved your world
- Level 4 – level 3 + a recommendation/connection into a possible opportunity for business development/paid work
- Level 5 – Level 4 + a commitment in principle to pay back when times are good for you. A virtual handshake of repayment.
Story 3 – Please Help
Firstly, if you need help keep asking, secondly if you see someone asking for help and you believe you can help or you know someone who can PLEASE, PLEASE offer it (don’t scroll past). They and the world will thank you for it. That help may come in the from of things you need to hear, would like to hear or are hard to hear – but can all come from a place of good:
- Offer a compassionate listening ear (empathy not sympathy)
- Offer a firm guiding hand to help with ‘better business planning’
- Offer paid work even if its at a low level, its something
- Offer a development opportunity through new learning
- Offer a development opportunity through job experience
If you are asking for help… share what you have done using these 4 headings:
- Project – what was the project (brief overview)
- Purpose – why where you engaged (your role in this)
- Outcome – what was the impact of the investment made
- Client feedback – what did they say about your value
Some thoughts that I could write more about but haven’t nailed fully what I need to say, so here’s some food for thought…
The COVID-19 Drought
Who can survive it, who will be left….yes for many professions this period marks a drought, a baron land of opportunity, a loss of income, maybe even livelihood (and home). I don’t know what to say other than this period is an unknown for all of us. We have no idea how long it will last (maybe 1, 2 or 3 months) and what will happen at the end… will it rain opportunity or will clients have formed new habits/ways of working that means what we did before is not needed now? What will help is connecting with those in the same boat and perhaps working through some possible futures together.
Capitalise but don’t take advantage
What can you offer that ‘the world needs’ and you ‘can get paid for’. If you have ever checked out ‘IKIGAI’ these are 2 key questions around purpose (reason to live). In this situation 2 out of 4 ain’t bad. For information the other two questions are ‘what do you love’? And ‘what are you good at’? This may well be a period where you do some stuff that you don’t like and you have to learn more about before you are anywhere near good at it.
Who’s making money in the COVID-19 drought
If you are nailing it, brilliant. I wish you all the best, but then ask you…. What can you do for your peers, your profession, your sector. It’s not great being the only rich person in town. Better to share your wealth and be part of an invested community. It will invest back when you need it. And you will….
Get rich or die trying: the people trying to make money from coronavirus | Arwa Mahdawi
The coronavirus crisis has revealed five distinct personality types. First, the paper panickers (PPs): the people…
If you have to get a job be the best
Spend this time getting ‘match fit’ a phrase I heard for the first time in a while today from Ali Illingworth (of Purple Pebble people). Yes don’t sit idle, read those books, watch those ‘TedTalks’, meet (virtually) those wise members of your community, explore new ideas, write, learn something new – even if its a simple thing, being a novice again is a great leveller and a reminder for what it is to not know/not be competent.
False abundance, stop taking
We seemed to have falsely lived our lives with an abundance mindset, the shelves of our supermarkets have always been full – not now (where are all the toilet rolls)!!! What is the lesson here. I say only take what you need and use what you take wisely (use it all – don’t throw it away). Our world will be different at the end of this and we cannot continue to live in this ‘consumer of convenience way’.
Preparing for the rain to come
If you survive, be the bomb at what ever it is you do. Keep reading the signs, looking for when the ban will be lifted, when we will be able to gather again. And put on the mother of all events – hit all 5 senses with whatever you do. Reach into people, make them think and see your service as the thirst quencher no one else could offer. Explore everything from what a room looks like to what it tastes like… what flavours are in the air that resonate with you and what you do. And what about sound?
IN closing thanks must go to:
Ali Illingworth of Purple Pebbel People and Melanie Hewitt for being a catalyst for this piece of writing.
Kurt Ewald Lindley – I’m ok but not everyone is, don’t leave freelancers behind in the COVID-19 drought
If you can afford to pay, please do – free stuff like some freelancers won’t be around forever.