It’s no secret that the creative industries have been punished by COVID-19.
Yet without knowing, your diet of nothing but caffeine, tuna and rice as a creative has prepared you for a global pandemic. From graphic design to video production, the concoction of carbohydrates, caffeine and borderline mercury poisoning has honed your mind and taught you to survive amongst scarcity. As consumer confidence sours and the global economic machine slows, discipline and productivity forged in the fires of necessity will be invaluable.
Before engaging in celebratory masturbation (you’re going to need all that toilet paper you’ve stockpiled) we’re all facing a very real calendar of cancelled jobs. Whether you operate in the retail, music, sporting, hospitality or events industry as a creative, the erosion of credit and discretionary spending will result in an economic winter harsher than anything seen in Westeros. To assist you and your business, here are six tips on how to survive in the creative industry over the coming months.
1. Stop watching the news
It’s impossible to find flow in creative projects when you’re engaged in a “dopamine driven feedback loop” fuelled by a torrent of news updates. While triggering the same neural activity as cocaine, unfortunately device dependence is more likely to result in you becoming Robert Downey Jr in the early 90’s rather than Hunter S Thompson creating his magnum opus. Getting high on the “infodemic” is more likely to result in you becoming a vegetable than unleash your creative spirit.
Success in the creative fields is dependent upon your ability to find complete immersion in your task. As a surge of creatives “go remote” in advance of lockdown laws, self-discipline will be a premium.
As Cal Newport writes in “Deep Work”, the ability to concentrate is “the superpower of the 21st century”. Simultaneously becoming as scarce as it is necessary, economic and personal opportunity lie for those who can leverage depth. By first identifying those tasks which are most valuable, creatives can regain authority over how technology accesses our time by scheduling online and offline blocks. Newport notes that In the former it’s important not to ignore distracting stimuli, but rather the ability to prevent these thoughts from seizing your attention.
2. Cut all unnecessary spending
Growing up in the shadows of the Great Recession, frugality has been baked into the DNA of millennials in the creative industries. COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout will have similar, long-lasting effects that will plague the creative industries longer than the Church of Scientology in Hollywood.
As financial advisors recommend, during periods of high volatility focus on what you can control. Along with your attention, spending is something you exercise autonomy over, and there’s no shortage of articles on how to reduce costs as a small business owner in the creative industries.
Here are some things you can do today to minimise fixed costs (original source):
- For everything from video editing tools to special effects, threaten to cancel your Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription and receive two months free.
- Save money on electricity bills by comparing providers for the most competitive rate.
- Familiarise yourself with your business insurance policy and compare the market for cheaper alternatives; then ask your current provider to match that rate.
- Consolidate bank accounts to minimise account fees.
- Move tasks in house like bookkeeping where possible.
- Avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
3. Reevaluate your business strategy
From winning an Academy Award to bombing in Snow Dogs, Cuba Gooding Junior would have benefitted from planning his career trajectory. A strategic plan would have yielded better decision-making and saved us from cinematic abominations like Daddy Day Camp.
Whether you’re freelance or operate a small business in the creative industries, now is the time to review your business strategy and identify vulnerabilities. While specialisation breeds expertise, ask yourself: “have I become overdependent on one client, one service or one industry for revenue”?
To survive the economic headwinds in the wake of Coronavirus, consider diversifying your creative services to avoid a single point of failure. Adopting an antifragile philosophy can assist in your creative enterprise becoming more resilient and evolving in the face of chaos and uncertainty.
We’re not immune from making mistakes. As a Melbourne video production company, we narrowly avoided overexposure to the Music/Entertainment industry with a contract with Pitch Music Festival. Had it been scheduled for the following weekend, the Victorian government’s limits on public gatherings would have resulted in catastrophic failure for our video marketing business. Caterers, videographers, photographers, event planners and hospitality employees for more recent events have not been as fortunate.
“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”Nassim Taleb
4. Continue Marketing
In an economic downturn, ”take a scalpel rather than a cleaver to the marketing budget”. Past economic downturns have illustrated that those who maintained or increased their adspend emerged from the period with a greater market share than rivals. Reviewing your marketing plan, adjusting strategies and responding to changing market conditions will poise you for success if we all survive Armageddon.
Likewise, maintaining networks with others in the creative industries can provide a valuable source of emotional support. Preserving these communities will also place you in a position to capitalise on opportunities in the immediate future. As a sign of support, Enamoured Iris is providing the opportunity for small businesses to receive a free, Six Second Video for use in their video marketing efforts during this uncertain time.
5. Review the government’s stimulus package
In March, the Australian government announced an economic stimulus package to assist small businesses following the COVID-19 outbreak.
For those creatives with employees, cash flow assistance will be available for PAYG withholding. For those who lodge quarterly, the government will provide a 50% credit for your PAYG withholding up to $25,000 on your March 2020 BAS. For those who lodge monthly, on your March BAS the government will provide a 150% credit for your PAYG withholding up to $25,000.
6. Look for opportunities
Once you’ve insulated yourself from downside risk, look for opportunities amidst the panic. Talented creatives often have an aversion to business development, however if you’re going to survive you’ll need to adopt a business mindset. Which industries are still surviving? Where are the opportunities? What do they need that you offer?
French perfume manufacturer LVMH has pivoted to the production of hand sanitizer; a trend replicated in China where factories have started manufacturing medical supplies instead of iPhones to meet demand.
If you provide corporate video production services, why not offer businesses video content for crisis communications? If you’re a wedding videographer, why not offer schools or fitness studios video production as they rush to provide online content?
Living project to project in the creative industry, there’s rarely a chance to fundamentally reevaluate your business. With self-discipline, perceptiveness and a strong network, you can emerge from the coming months stronger than before.
Searching for “video production Melbourne”? Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is known as “The Owlery” and is based in Melbourne, Australia.