Jo Watson attended our PopUp Business live course in Bolton last November to help her copywriting business: agoodwriteup.
Jo has graciously written the following article about her experience over the past few months and how she is applying the PopUp Principles in her daily life.
I'm a former student of PopUp Business School, and I'm also a part of the hardworking demographic of freelancers and the self-employed, who are as much in fear for our finances as we are for our health, right now. When I found out that Simon and Alan were putting together a Survival Guide to help the PopUp community now that this Corona thing has us tightly by the tax returns, I had to show my support.
I'm a copywriter first and foremost, but for this article, I wanted to focus on figures rather than words. In particular, I want to talk about money. If you’ll indulge me, I'd like to put forward a few things for you to think about right now as you face the future, and it goes without saying that I draw these points from the lessons I learned - or perhaps had confirmed for me - during my time at PopUp Business School.
I wonder if you'll remember those lessons, too?
Whilst the PopUp principles taught us that we really shouldn't be going into any kind of short or long-term debt to set up a business, we need to remember that it's also good practice to avoid the dreaded D word now that we're actually in business. I know it's tough, and we all need to accept help where we can take it, but please please please, do your research about everything that's supposedly available to support you financially, and look carefully the Ts and Cs attached to each one.
Whilst I have my own political views on Government 'support', rather than enter into something that's going to make me really fucking mad, I'll instead focus my attention on so-called mortgage holidays from our mortgage providers and banks. It's not a bloody 'holiday', and no bank in history has ever done anything for its customers that hasn't benefited them substantially in the long run. Whilst the idea of a break in payments may sound tempting, please ask yourself if you really need to take it, or if you're just grabbing it because it's there and it sounds nice. Please, do your research, and get that calculator out, because whilst you're not paying for it right now, you'll definitely pay for it later.
Okay so far? Good.
Know your worth. Unless there's really, truly, absolutely some return value in it for you, don’t feel pressured to give anything of your business away for free. Anyone who values your talent and time - and who respects you as a person as well as a professional - will never expect you to do anything for free at a time when it's just as tough for you as it is for them. They'll certainly never ask you, at least. I know that as a good person you'll want to help people out in a time of crisis, but please don't do it at the expense of either:
a) finding or doing paid work for yourself elsewhere, or
b) spending time supporting those closest to you with the issues they have at this awful time.
Like I said, if you can gain some kind of non-monetary yet valuable return on your 'investment', brilliant. But pure freebies? No. Look at how the world keeps turning on its business axis despite Corona. Tesco aren't giving you your groceries gratis, British Gas aren't lighting and heating your home out of the goodness of their own hearths (yes, that was an awful pun), and HMRC aren't going to turn around any time soon and say, "Y'know what, Karen, it's been a shit year, don't worry about paying your tax for 20/21, love."
As a business, you have a right to earn money, especially if you're providing a product or a service that will help people right now in addressing an area of their own business that will likely help keep them afloat.
Just as a side note, and I don't know if you've noticed... but if you've ever done anything for free for someone in business, they've usually ended up being a bit of an ungrateful and demanding dick about it... A blog for another time, maybe? Let's move on.
Keep marketing your business. Providing that you're not putting your prices up, or venturing into brand new territory where you now don't ply your usual trade but instead sell marked-up bog rolls by the boot load, you are fully within your rights to market the hell out of your products or services. Everyone is struggling, so you're really going to have to make sure you're heard above the noise, and you'll also have to show that your business is the perfect choice over the competition to help others stay afloat during this shitshow of a health and financial crisis.
Social media virtue signallers will cry “profiteering” and spew passive aggressive keyboard warrior rants about “capitalising on the crisis”, but let's just remember, social media virtue signallers are arseholes. Do what you've always done. Why wouldn’t you?
I'd been running my business (agoodwriteup) for a few years already by that point, and honestly thought that the PopUp sessions would mainly be aimed at those people setting stuff up from scratch. That was so far from the case, however, and so as well as learning so many new concepts and ways of applying them to my business, I developed the confidence to come away from any existing plans and projects that were just never going to work. So I guess my point is this... with the three things I've talked about in this article being deeply embedded in PopUp principles, I think it's only right that at this tough time where it's really not 'business as usual', we go back to basics and remember our roots.
It is so bloody tough right now, but I'm practicing what I preach, and I'm remembering that PopUp Business School may not have been around when I got my business off the ground, but they've sure as shit been there to help it fly.
They know their stuff, and you know yours.
Keep that partnership in mind, and you'll get through this.
As well as being a Chartered Manager and a former PopUp student over in Bolton (Greater Manchester), Jo is a freelance copywriter, editor and trainer.
Over the past year she’s also become a professional speaker and is currently writing her first book. She’s aware that everyone says that. When it comes to language, she’s a fan of swearing, sarcasm and puns. She likes to attract clients who feel the same!
LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/jo-watson-agoodwriteup
Facebook - @agoodwriteup
Twitter - @agoodwriteup
Website - www.agoodwriteup.com