It may be an insensitive time to talk about crisis management and prevention for artists and other self-employed people, now that Corona is causing a series of cancelled events, quarantining people, and putting some in real financial straits. But unfortunately people usually only listen when they are already up to their neck in water. “Crisis management is only for big companies, I can’t afford it, I don’t need it.” And it’s true that it costs resources, time, and money to take a day or two out of your daily business and think about what can go wrong in life and how you are protected against it. For many people, the only contact person for this is their insurance broker.
Besides the right insurance, there are some things you can do yourself to prepare for situations in which you cannot work. It is also clear that most emergencies are regionally limited and of short duration, e.g. if the theatre burns down or you have the flu. A situation like the current Corona pandemic, where events may be postponed or cancelled for weeks in all parts of the country, will probably push everyone to their limits sooner or later.
How freelancers, the self-employed and small businesses are getting through the Corona pandemic
Crisis management in 4 steps
A simple model for emergency planning and your own crisis management consists of the following 4 steps:
1 Risk Analysis
This includes the evaluation of all existing risks as well as an assessment of how likely the risk is and what damage it would cause if it were to occur. We take a very comprehensive look at your situation, for example: What risks does your work / entrepreneurial activity involve? Where are you active, which environmental factors play a role? What personal risk factors are there, on whom are you dependent?
A pandemic like the current one caused by a new Corona virus, for example, is not at all unlikely, but it’s not taken seriously by most people. Yet its effects can be massive, as we are currently experiencing.
A short-term illness of one’s own, on the other hand, is very likely, but rather not an existential risk. But how would that change with a depressive episode?
Other risks from my own analysis include: Sick family members, traffic accidents, chemical spills or fires in nearby industries, extreme weather. In a structured analysis we go through different risk categories and assess: What is likely, what is not likely? What frightens you (possibly completely independent of the real danger), what doesn’t bother you? Which risks do you want to take into account in your emergency planning, and for which ones would it be uneconomical or too costly to take measures?
2 Prevention / Preparation
When you have assessed your risk, we can look at how you can reduce it. For companies, this includes complying with safety regulations, written emergency plans and regular emergency drills. The details will of course depend on the results of the risk analysis and the legal requirements.
However, every self-employed person has to deal with the question: How do we cover our expenses when sales fall off, and how do I feed my family? It may be too late to set up an emergency pot at the moment, but that’s your first task for the next round. The question of how to compensate for lost sales in an emergency and what costs can be saved without endangering your independence should be clarified in advance.
We are in the middle of a pandemic. We know from China and Italy how much the corona virus can restrict public life. Since a pandemic is one of those crises that develop slowly, we have some time to react. As I said, financial precautions will be difficult now. But replenishing stocks, refreshing sensible vaccinations or considering how to use the time with limited orders are still possible now.
One thing is important to me: If you think that the current developments could lead you into bankruptcy and / or unemployment, then don’t have false pride: Make applications for housing benefit or unemployment benefit in good time – I say as long as the clerks in the offices are not yet sick! The processing of applications sometimes takes longer, so don’t wait too long to when it becomes necessary. As corrosive as it feels: This is one way to deal with this emergency! And keep an eye on ongoing developments, as governments set up measure to mitigate the economic impact of the Corona pandemic as we go.
4 Recovery & Reconstruction
At some point, this crisis, too, will be over. And then we often expect to be able to pick up where we left off immediately. But take your time!
Depending on your mind, the impending danger – regardless of statistics – has also impressed you mentally. Depending on how bad it gets, you may have lost someone, cared for someone or been sick yourself. Or you were largely alone for weeks. Take your time to get well again, mentally and physically. Take time to grieve if that is necessary – which we all don’t want to hope for.
But also use the time afterwards to think about it: What was actually good about this mandatory break? Did I discover new sides to myself? Did I find time for my family, as I usually only ever plan to do? Finally finished writing the book or finished the shelf with the unread books? Is there something I want to keep? And what do I learn from this crisis for my provisions, so that I am less unprepared next time and can (even) better get through it? What changes do you want to make in your processes? When will you take the time to develop a contingency plan for your company?
5 ways to use the corona holidays sensibly – and one not so sensibly
We cannot change the fact that we will experience losses anyway. In order to spread the infections over time so that our hospitals, doctors, nurses and other helpers can cope with the pandemic, we have to adapt our behaviour, and this will affect the sales of those who otherwise make our consumption – especially services – possible. There are many artists, writers and restaurateurs in my circle, and you are not one of those whom the Federal Government means when it stirs up economic stimulus packages. That sucks. I would also be happy to advise you on how to deal with critical situations of all kinds, but I know that you have other concerns at the moment. So here are my 5 personal favourites to use forced breaks (in no particular order):
1 Advance a vacation
Sounds boring because you can’t go away. But you can take a vacation at home. And yes, even self-employed people need to take a break! So if you can’t go to work anyway, and you’ve already scheduled your holidays, take your calendar, cancel your holidays later in the year and then make up for your cancelled appointments later, if possible, and decide to relax now. Of course, you’d rather do cool things than sleep late every day because the ceiling is falling on your head at home. Above all, taking a holiday early means skipping the holidays you planned later on to make up for the current loss of sales when the crisis is over. And not constantly thinking “Shit, I should really…”. You don’t have to do anything. You’re on vacation.
2 Write a book (or finish one)
Or write job applications. Start a blog. Finish the next stage program. Sort and clean up the projects you started, which you will never finish anyway. Each of us has ideas for when we never have to work again. If you can’t work, which projects can you advance in time?
3 Digitize parts of your work
Of course not everyone (please) can write an e-book about how they used the Corona pandemic to finally get rich (Oh man, I can see the Facebook ads already!). But check your products and your services to see what opportunities digitalisation offers you that you are not yet using. Gianna Nannini gives a concert in front of her webcam. Books are published on schedule; they just can’t be advertised with a book tour. Have you always wanted to start a YouTube channel to make your expertise available to a wider audience? Then get in front of the camera!
4 Learn something new
Thanks to the Internet, we have more access to learning opportunities than ever before. Much of it for free or at very reasonable prices. You can learn a new language, program, find out exactly what Data Science is; now you can even complete entire university degrees from the comfort of your own sofa! Look around and feed your brain!
5 Digital Detox
Going offline. Silent vacation. Meditation marathon. Of course, this works much better when you’re not in quarantine with your family. But you’re allowed to go out into the wild in most areas, still. You’re only supposed to limit contact with people. No media distractions. Don’t go on Twitter or Facebook, everyone is out and about who also has to stay at home! Just come home to yourself. Listen to yourself. Enjoy the silence.
+ 1 Neftlix & Chill!
Finally watch all seasons of your favourite show – guilt free. Sleep when your eyes close. Wake up because you have to pee. Like in the old days, when life was more rock ‘n’ roll, only with house arrest.
To all those who have read up to this point and do not belong to the group of persons concerned: Support artists whose events have been cancelled. Buy their CDs, books and merchandising products in anticipation of the catch-up dates. Talk to your service providers about what is currently possible or not, and from when on there will be appointments again. If you can, pay for the August appointment in advance, buy multiple tickets for after the pandemic. This way we can’t compensate for their loss of earnings, but like the cases of infection, we can stretch it a bit. #FlattenTheCurve
If you want to learn how to prepare your business for an emergency or disaster (including how to differentiate between both), please check out our Disaster Preparedness Intro on Teachable. The 4 week course starts 25 May and an early bird special as well as a Corona Assistance offer are currently on sale. If you want to digg deeper, please feel free to contact us to talk about your project. We are here to help you kick drama out of your life and business!