Although we might be getting used to the ‘new normal’ of life during the coronavirus pandemic, the crisis has created a uniquely difficult situation for many of us. Sadly, small businesses and freelancers have suffered much of the damage inflicted on the UK economy.
We spoke to four small business owners to find out how their businesses are adapting to the current climate and what tips or advice they might have for others facing similar challenges.
Andrew, translator and academic editor
“The joke is that nothing has really changed for translators and editors; we still sit in front of our computers in home offices, working away on texts. But we also depend on relationships with people outside of our homes, and this world is reconfiguring.
"I have noticed a moderate slowdown in translation and academic editing requests as many universities have closed operations and researchers are now more focused on online tuition and balancing work-family life. Access to archives has also been restricted. Luckily, I have had an academic book translation to work on and this has given me stability and a routine over the 'corona' transition period.
"Further down the line, I expect that these requests will return to normal, while copy editing for publishers (all completed remotely) will be as before. Perhaps the isolation conditions will result in many academics and writers staying at home and writing more. On the other hand, though, finding funds for editing, and translation work will not be top of people’s list of spending priorities.
"I have responded to the moderate slow down by working on my continuing professional development (CPD) as I have a proofreading course and other training that I’ve been wanting to complete for months!”
Dr Andrew Hodges, translator and academic editor.
Alan, professional photographer
“I mainly work with service family and commercial photography clients. Once the lockdown started, all my bookings were either cancelled or postponed indefinitely. It took two weeks to get through the shock and then the panic stages before I could think clearly enough to get a handle on our situation.
"I'm using the newly freed-up time to update my website, check my processes and procedures and review my clients’ experiences so we’ll be ready when we can get back to work. My advice to others in a similar situation would be to break tasks down into smaller chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Accept that some days you're just not going to be feeling it and that's okay.”
Alan Wright, founder of Alan Wright Photography.
James, founder of a content marketing platform
"The coronavirus has negatively impacted our opportunities to talk to potential sponsors and partners in many ways. Deals that were being discussed are now on hold and we are certainly going to lose a percentage of our income as the world navigates this unprecedented situation as best it can. However, in contrast, as content and a strong digital presence becomes even more important for businesses, our content marketing platform is seeing more traffic and activity. We've also decided to support B2B businesses by making access to Converge free until the crisis is over.
"My advice to businesses at this time would be to consider how you might be able support those in your business and personal networks. Can you share some advice? Volunteer some time? Yes, we need to make sales and market our companies but we need to be kinder, more generous and more understanding too. There's a balance to be struck and coming across as opportunistic or tone deaf will only have negative long-term effects on your brand."
James Tennant, founder of Converge.
Kirk - tech journalist
“I’m a self-employed tech journalist, writing for publications and companies. Most of my clients are in the US. They range from small, independent software developers to very large companies. For the most part, I haven’t been affected by the coronavirus, though I recently learned that one company I work for has cut back its staff, including the person I worked with.
"For the most part, I work in a sector that isn’t affected much; people will still need software and, since so many people are working at home, they actually need more software. But I’m very disappointed that the UK government is not offering more support to people like me, who work as directors of limited companies.
"My advice to anyone who has lost work is to try to develop new skills as quickly as possible. Since this lockdown may last a long time many people will need to pivot to something different, and quickly. I feel terrible for the many people, especially freelancers, who are left out to dry in this situation and I hope the government extends its support to everyone.”
Kirk McElhearn, freelance tech journalist.
If you’re looking for helpful resources and guidance on how your business can navigate the coronavirus outbreak, check out our frequently updated small business coronavirus hub.