There’s a lot of talk about pivoting and agility right now as businesses struggle to keep afloat amid lockdowns and revenue streams that have either dwindled or outright disappeared.
In addition to talking only to traditional business consultants – whose expertise relies on the very economic models that have now collapsed – why not also consult with creative freelancers and solopreneurs in your or your company’s network?
Think I’m crazy? Hear me out.
I’m not suggesting you get your regular freelance graphic designer to draw you pretty pictures or design a logo. I’m suggesting you pull those kinds of creatives into your meetings because the successful ones – the ones who’ve freelanced or been solopreneurs for years – have been putting all of the business skills into practice that you need now.
Freelancers and solopreneurs:
1. Are customer-centric – they know that without keeping their clients happy, they have no income, and they and their families don’t eat. Hanging on to clients is their superpower. So they listen to their clients – they really listen – and then they tailor their offering to meet their customer’s exact needs. That generates loyalty, and sustainable revenue streams.
2. Are agile – they bend and adapt all the time. The market changes, and they pivot. They start out doing one thing, and when that opportunity vanishes, or a new one arises, they change. On a dime.
3. Are financially savvy – they know how to squeeze the last drop of blood from a stone, and cut the right corners, while still getting the job done. They are pros at managing cash flow and having reserves to draw on in a crisis. And they pay their suppliers – faster than any corporate I’ve ever dealt with – because they understand that values like integrity are more than just expensively crafted statements pasted onto canteen walls.
4. Are solutions-focused – because they don’t have the time or space to sit around bemoaning their fate. Time is money, and no one knows this better than the freelancer whose time your managers have spent beating down to bargain basement rates. (Ahem. That’s a discussion for another day.) So they maximise their time, and use it positively – to create solutions and new income streams.
5. Are full of ideas – seriously. These are creative people. Bring them in to blue sky with you, and see what comes up. There will be a bunch of bad ideas – don’t be afraid of those, as they often spark good ideas. But there may also be some really good ideas, because these are often people who think out of the box every single day of their lives, as a survival skill.
6. Run lean operations – they know how to get things done without needing the buy-in and signature of a hundred egos. They’re masters at paring down a workstream to its essential elements so that you get the best product for the lowest overhead. They are the epitome of working smart rather than hard.
7. Are focused on outcomes – for freelancers and solopreneurs it’s all about the end product or service. They have hundreds of competitors and they know they need their work to rise to the top of the pile. So they deliver, they deliver the best possible quality, and they deliver on time.
Of course, there are freelancers and there are freelancers – I’m not talking about anybody with a website, a product or service and a remote office. Those are one a penny. Look for the ones who’ve been out there for years, for decades, and are still supporting themselves and their families. They might be micro-enterprises, but they’re viable enterprises, and they might just be able to help you.