During the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-08, I published a post of a similar title as this one. In light of the current humanitarian crises and resulting economic fallout that COVID-19 has triggered, it seemed worth revisiting that old post as well as sharing an up-to-the-moment opportunity example.
My opener is just as relevant today:
Independent consultants may be in an enviable position within the world of business. Our services – by their very nature of not being tangible – allow us to be more agile. We can adopt to changing market demands.
Adapting, accepting reality, making adjustments, experimenting, learning, brainstorming, analyzing results, incrementally getting better – these are things an entrepreneur does. And make no mistake: consultants and freelancers are entrepreneurs.
Aaron Cruikshank of Friuch Consulting writing on his blog around that time period said:
Find new pain points, serve them.
People starting out in consulting today might think that they need to go down market to succeed in a shrinking economy. I respectfully submit that such thinking is bunk. What you need to do is find a niche that is not something everyone else is doing and sell it at a premium. For example, when the economy is tight – offer a service that makes people think they’re saving money. You’re a webmaster? People still need websites, even when the economy is in the toilet. Make your niche designing websites in the most affordable way possible or link your design techniques to a measurable return on investment (ROI) so that the client can be sure they got their money’s worth.
I don’t think his statement just applies to those just starting out. It applies to all of us at all times.
Expanding on his example, I’ll dig into this a bit deeper so that you can see how it might apply to your own situation one way or another.
SITUATION: Restaurants (and other businesses too) are focusing on pick-up / take-out service with an emphasis on contactless service, social distancing enforced through scheduled pick-up and pacing, and the like.
OPPORTUNITY: Many restaurants have sub-par to horrible ordering processes on-line and off-line. They’re also suffering from cash flow and liquidity problems. They need orders, they need streamlined processes, they need a good customer experience, they need low hassle, and they don’t have any extra capital to invest in accomplish this.
SOLUTION: Utilize your web skills, business process skills, availability, and expertise with third-party technical solutions to pull together a tailored solution for a restaurant client in exchange for a % of sales (up to a fixed dollar figure roughly equivalent to what you’d have charged for the same work with paid ahead of time payment terms – or even 15% to 25% higher – to compensate for the added risk you’re taking on).