First steps to start rebuilding your business post-lockdown
It’s been tough few months for the self-employed. Since COVID-19 swept into our lives, we’ve heard stories of contractors being let go from contracts early, struggling to find work, and finding themselves all but excluded from government support. However, with lockdown now easing and the “new normal” coming into force, SMEs have the opportunity to start rebuilding their businesses.
We’ve put together the steps that contractors and freelancers should be taking to make sure you’re fighting fit and ready to go as opportunities begin presenting themselves.
Step 1: Update your online presence
Your website and social media accounts are, usually, the first impression potential new clients get of you, so you want to be sure they make a splash. Take the time to read through everything, note any changes you need to make and, well, make them. This could include:
- Adding your latest projects to your portfolio;
- Checking language is consistent and accurate (if your site says you have a decade of experience and you actually now have 12 years, you might want to change it to something like “over a decade of experience” across the site and all profiles); and
- Making sure any new skills are mentioned – if you spent lockdown learning German then tell the world.
If you have a lot of social media accounts, it may seem like a lot of work but, in reality, it will probably only take half a day or so. Once you’ve done one, the others are easy.
Step 2: Get in touch with previous clients
Just as you are getting back to business, so are your old clients. Now is the ideal time to put yourself back on their radars. Send them emails checking in to see how they’re doing and seeing if they’re keeping well since lockdown. While copying and pasting can be tempting, it’s worth the extra few minutes to make it personal.
If you had been working on or planning a project with them before lockdown, you might want to ask them if it’s going to be continuing now that things are easing and remind them of your availability. If not, perhaps just mention that you’re available for projects if they need your expertise.
Step 3: Use LinkedIn and other platforms for networking
It may be a little while before in-person networking events get going again and before people feel completely comfortable attending. In the meantime, there are lots of online platforms that you can use to find potential new clients.
The main one, of course, is LinkedIn, but there are other platforms out there specifically designed for contractors and freelancers to put them in touch with potential clients. Now is the time to not only make sure your profiles are up to date, but also that you’re a member of appropriate groups (and are actively participating in them) and that you’re reaching out to the right people.
Make a list of dream clients, find the people who work for those organisations – the ones most likely to make hiring decisions – and connect with them. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time at all.
Step 4: Get your documents ready to go
A lot of contractors are finding competition is higher than usual but one way to beat the pack is by being prepared. A good way to achieve this is by having comprehensive proposal and invoicing documents ready to go.
If you already have these, now is a good time to check over them and see if they need any tweaks. If you don’t have them, well, now is a great time to write them, save them, and have them on hand. This means all you have to do when an opportunity arises is fill in the pertinent details and off you go.
Step 5: Get your accounts and insurances in order
Another way to be prepared and ready to go is to have all the financial stuff boxed off. Yes, we know it’s not the most exciting way to spend an afternoon, but it will give you the edge over your competition.
First of all, if you haven’t looked at your accounts since before lockdown, take an hour or so to make sure they’re all in order and all your paperwork is filed. Then, take a look at your insurance. If it’s lapsed during lockdown or is coming up for renewal, get it organised.
Remember, as a contractual minimum you are likely to need public liability insurance, professional indemnity, and employers’ liability insurance, all of which are included in Kingsbridge’s contractor insurance package along with some other essentials. You can even get a quick, easy quote online to make it really straightforward.
Taking these steps will really help place you as a frontrunner in what is sure to be a competitive market. Getting organised not only makes a great impression, but it also allows you to start right away – something clients needing a flexible workforce post-lockdown will value strongly.