Forty Nine.

Preparing for Lockdown 2.0.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from coach, mentor and consultant EJ Trivett. She says:

“With Lockdown 2.0 looming precariously ahead, what are our lessons from the first wave, and what could we put in place NOW to proactively protect our businesses (and sanity) ahead of the game?”

• • • • •

This episode is supported by Nutmeg.

Nutmeg offers customers a high-quality investment service at a reduced cost, whether they have £500 or £5 million to invest. Nutmeg now manages over £2bn on behalf of over 80,000 customers, making Nutmeg one of the UK’s fastest growing wealth managers and the fifth largest wealth manager in the UK by customer numbers (Source: PAM Asset Management, January 2019).

[Risk warning: Capital at risk. JISA rules apply]

Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:30] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie, and this is Steve.

[00:01:40] – Steve
Hello! Yes. So each week we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but of course, we start each episode by looking back at last week’s episode. Not that it was last week’s episode…

If you’re listening to this in real time, it was last month’s episode. But that’s because we took a summer break. And then after the summer break, we took a September ‘still trying to get our heads back together’ break. But here we are.

We can still refer back to the last question, and the last question was…?

[00:02:06] – Frankie
How to celebrate your wins without sounding like a w*nker.

[00:02:10] – Steve
So Steve Morgan got in touch.

He said,

“Oh, my gosh, this episode’s timing is perfect. I’ve recently won two awards and feel exactly the same way.”

[00:02:20] – Frankie
Good for you, Steve by the way!

[00:02:21] – Steve
“I did a lot of the stuff you guys suggested in the episode. Email signature — people do notice it and comment on it. Updated my websites, put it on social, et cetera. LinkedIn profiles also have a dedicated honours and awards section, which is worth updating. And I did follow up with more updates when they sent me stuff. One of them sent a medal (a medal!).”

[00:02:44] – Frankie
I want a medal.

[00:02:46] – Steve
“I took a pic with it and posted that, too.”

[00:02:49] – Frankie
Why didn’t we get a medal? Even like a chocolate one?

Fiona Firth says,

“Would it be easier if you say, ‘business name has been nominated as a runner up / won an award’ rather than using your own name? Maybe it could help with the awkwardness? I mean, I think you should absolutely own it, but if you struggle to and want to work up to that, it might be a good solution.”

[00:03:09] – Steve
And Charles Commons got in touch, ever the poet, and he said,

“Quite simply — embrace your inner w*nker.”

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:06:42] – Frankie
This week’s question comes from E. J. Trivett. She is a coach, mentor and consultant.

E.J. says:

“With Lockdown 2.0 looming precariously ahead, what are our lessons from the first wave? And what can we put in place now to proactively protect our businesses and sanity ahead of the game?”

[00:07:05] – Steve

[00:07:06] – Frankie
It’s a great question, by the way. It’s interesting because if a second lockdown, whatever that looks like, is going to happen, I really don’t know if it’s going to be easier or harder.

[00:07:17] – Steve
Maybe I’m naive, but they’re going to do whatever they can to-,

[00:07:21] – Frankie
It won’t be as extreme.

[00:07:22] – Steve
No, I don’t think it will be because everybody has put in place so many measures. Quite frankly, the government can’t afford to shut everything down. But it just feels inevitable that at some point your children are going to be at home.

[00:07:35] – Frankie

[00:07:36] – Steve
Now, that might just be because their classes or their year is. I don’t think all schools in the country will shut.

[00:07:43] – Frankie
Hopefully not. Yeah.

[00:07:45] – Steve
So long as in your head, you know that it is inevitable that at some point they’re going to be at home.

[00:07:49] – Frankie
But it’s so hard to plan for anything when you’ve got that constant reminder and niggle that it could all go to shit in 24 hours!

[00:07:57] – Steve
Then let’s talk about how we can.

[00:08:00] – Frankie
Okay, yes.

[00:08:02] – Steve
When you take on projects, you can be realistic with deadlines, with the people you are working with.

[00:08:09] – Frankie
I feel like those conversations need to be on overdrive. So previously we’ve talked about being open and honest and more than likely they’ll be fine about being flexible with deadlines and blah, blah blah, but I feel like maybe we need to ramp that up a bit?

Like, to just get ahead of the game and maybe even amending our contracts or things that protect us in terms of having a COVID contract that says “if I have to quarantine for these reasons, I can’t work” or “I have to subcontract somebody else” or whatever it is.

[00:08:36] – Steve
You’ve probably been doing this already, but really listen to your clients. There might be solutions that you can come up with but you’re just not aware of the pain points yet.

[00:08:48] – Frankie
And creating different ways of working with your clients too.

[00:08:51] – Steve
Just really looking at your processes, basically cutting out all of the gumph and making it as streamlined as you can. We don’t have time to waste basically. You want to make it as easy as possible for everyone.

[00:09:05] – Frankie
Yeah. It feels like a lot of the advice we’ve given in other episodes applies here, but more extreme versions. So if you haven’t yet sorted that little black book of other freelancers in your industry that you can send work to or call upon in times of need, now feels like a good moment to do that. So that if you do need to quarantine for two weeks and your kids are of an age where you just can’t get stuff done in that time, do you have a fellow freelancer you can ring up and say, “look, my clients got this deadline, blah blah blah, can you help me out with this?”

[00:09:35] – Steve
And actually, being upfront with your clients about that is a good thing because it shows that you have thought about what can happen.

[00:09:44] – Frankie
“I am COVID secure”.

[00:09:48] – Steve
Cutting overheads.

[00:09:49] – Frankie

[00:09:49] – Steve
All the various tools and platforms that you’ve signed up for. Don’t forget the actual domestic stuff.

I don’t know about you but I signed up for a lot of apps to keep the kids occupied and I’ve now noticed that those monies are still coming out. Worth keeping an eye on all of those things because everything adds up.

[00:10:10] – Frankie
Always worth making friends with Martin Lewis because when it comes to scrimping and saving, he’s just a goldmine.

In terms of the sanity side of it… At the moment, my two-year-old is going through some moment where she doesn’t want to nap during the day. So I’ve spent the last ten days / two weeks fighting this and, actually, I had some really good chats on Instagram with various people who were messaging me about it and I came to the realisation that it’s more painful when I try and get her to nap and it doesn’t happen. That’s more stressful for everybody. And what I really needed to do was just accept that she wasn’t going to sleep and then the day was just a lot more pleasant and enjoyable for everybody.

So in terms of prepping for this potential second wave or whatever, I do feel like I chat to some people who — for whatever reason — are a bit in denial about what’s going on. And I worry that if you genuinely have told yourself that it’s all back to normal and it’s going to be fine and it happens again, that’s going to be so much harder to swallow and to cope with. Whereas maybe I’m too far the other way? But I’m living in perpetual fear of it all going to shit!

So maybe there’s a happy balance there where, yes, you’re getting on while you can but you’re also preparing yourself mentally for the fact that you may have to go back, however different that looks. But there’ll be a level of maybe the kids at home more or you having to streamline your processes more or do less work or whatever it is. If you’re just prepared for that, it will be easier to cope with if and when it happens.

You know, accept that the naps are over. And then maybe then when she suddenly does decide to nap after all, it feels great. It’s like, yes, woohoo, let’s keep going!

[00:12:04] – Steve
We’ve talked about wiggle room before. Wiggle in.

[00:12:07] – Frankie
Don’t sing the song again…

[00:12:09] – Steve
If your diary isn’t maxed out and you leave wiggle room in there, then you’re going to be better placed for if suddenly they are sent home. Or if it comes to it and they’re still in school, just use that extra time to take time for yourself. Don’t necessarily fill it all with work when it comes to that day.

Yeah, take time for yourself. Maybe there are things… like, it’s good to reflect back on the positives from the past few months, like you had with eating with your family and things like that. For me, I’ve taken time at the start and end of day to read. Not turning my phone on first thing in the morning, making a cup of tea, just reading my book.

[00:12:49] – Frankie

[00:12:50] – Steve
Or it might be going for a walk or a run or whatever it might be. Try to hold on to that, I think. Try to hold on to those things rather than just getting back into the cycle of ‘normality’ in quotation marks, because it isn’t. And so you need to keep those things which helped you.

I’m sure we all evolved and picked up things over the past few months which helped us, these little crutches that helped us. And we need to remember what those are and maybe just keep them going rather than falling back on them when things get bad.

[00:13:20] – Frankie
But the current climate is so dangerous for that feast or famine mentality of being a freelancer. And I see it in so many people where kids are back at school. Quick! (Like you say), Fill the diary! Get all the work in now! And then one piece of the puzzle goes wrong and suddenly everybody’s without support to get their job done.

And if you’ve over booked and over promised in the time that you have, that’s just so stressful. And I’m seeing it in a lot of people and I worry that the level of burnout… the burnout stakes are really high at the moment. But also I appreciate that having struggled to work for the last six months, of course you want to get in as much as possible because we’ve all got bills to pay, and we’re not getting another grant and yes, we want to make the money now. So it’s just this…

I don’t know, it’s just such a mind f*ck.

[00:14:14] – Steve
I think it’s important to focus on the things which are actually going to make you money, serve the purpose that you want them to rather than faff around on little things, recognising the good opportunities and bad opportunities and all of that basically. So be protective of your time, say no.

[00:14:35] – Frankie
I feel like now is a good time to try and make long term plans and changes in your business that will make your business more sustainable. Finally writing that thing you wanted to write that you’re going to sell as an ebook maybe… I don’t know, whatever it is.

Some means of making some sort of income, as and when you have to be at home with the kids for whatever reason. A bit like that window of opportunity I had to pass my driving test, now we have a window of opportunity where the kids are in childcare, where yes, you can make monies but you can also allow yourself, I don’t know, an hour a day to think or move forward on a plan that will make you money in a different way should the client work become more difficult.

[00:15:18] – Steve
And remember, there are things that you can do. So for example, if you have got a talk that you used to give or a workshop you used to give, maybe now, as you say, that window of opportunity is a chance for you to film that and then sell it as a one off viewing thing, right?

[00:15:34] – Frankie
We all have ways that we can make money using the skills we’ve got. And as you say, often things we’ve already created — it doesn’t have to necessarily be a brand new thing.

[00:15:43] – Steve
Think about what you’ve got, think about who your audience is and if you don’t have much of an audience, think about how you can start growing one. Those kind of steps.

[00:15:50] – Frankie
Make that list guys. Build the list, keep building the list!

[00:15:57] – Steve
Actually mentioning talks just now… That was one thing that I’ve been thinking about is that actually, as parents, it can be hard to go and give talks at things. To commit. But now loads of events are still happening all around the world but they’re happening online. This is our moment! To actually put ourselves forward and appear at these things and make connections. Put yourself forward, it could be literally any country in the world.

Another thing that you can do proactively is — if you’ve not already done this — look at other industries. If your industry isn’t doing so well, look at the industries that are doing well. Beth Gladstone. Beth by Content, I think is her name online, was talking about this the other day in her newsletter, maybe last week? She was pointing out the fact that she is seeing lots of industries thriving, lots of tech based ones, obviously, but also things like gardening and fitness and DIY. So if your one has slightly dried up, frankly, go where the money is.

Another thing you can do proactively is look at what you’ve already got, like your website, your LinkedIn… Whatever you’ve got, look at it and think, “how can I tweak that and just make it better?” Like, just small things. Or if it’s your own website — SEO, look at small ways to help with being found.

[00:17:26] – Frankie
I made a Gardener’s World analogy in my last Kofi newsletter. On paper, I feel like this year has been a write off for me, financially and business wise and whatever else. But actually I was watching Gardener’s World and Monty, bless him, was sowing some seeds, as he always does, and he was talking about how this particular grassy bank is going to look amazing in like 18 months, two years time.

I was like, YES. There are things I can be doing, like streamlining my processes, looking at my SEO, starting that passive income thing I should have done five years ago. I am making steps towards some of those things and it will pay off. I just might not see it in 2020. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing, and that doesn’t mean this weird window of time is not an opportunity to look at those things.

[00:18:11] – Steve
I love the whole gardening analogy.

[00:18:13] – Frankie
I don’t even have my own garden.

[00:18:14] – Steve
Just like watching Monty Don with his slightly open shirt.

[00:18:16] – Frankie

[00:18:18] – Steve
You know, another thing you can do proactively is about PR for your business. I’ve noticed finally, over the last month or so, in particular, there is a lot more interest in the media about small business, how businesses are surviving, how parents are surviving, how people have adapted, so on and so forth.

[00:18:42] – Frankie
Good point.

[00:18:42] – Steve
Even if your business is suffering, being in that story is still going to elevate you. It’s a seed, right?

[00:18:49] – Frankie
Planting a seed.

[00:18:50] – Steve

[00:18:53] – Frankie
This is a weird time that we’re in and we will survive, and this last period has shown how fucking resilient we actually are across the Doing It For The Kids spectrum. We’ve got people that literally their industries have dried up overnight. We’ve got people who have had to move out of where they’re living and move in with their parents for a bit because they can’t afford to pay their bills. We’ve had people who have become 1950s housewives and hate it. There’s so broad a range of stuff that has occurred this year and yes, we’re still in it, but we have got THIS FAR.

My point is, we can get through another one if necessary. I don’t want to but…

What would your advice be?

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