As unemployment rises, UK SMEs turn to freelancers to maintain in house expertise



New figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that employment in the UK has fallen by as much as 220,000 - the largest such rise since 2009. 

Research from The Future Strategy Club, has found that nearly 3 in 10 (29%) business leaders have already streamlined their teams during the pandemic and, in many cases, it has been the UK's creative talent that has been impacted the most. In fact, as businesses streamline their teams, there may even be an increase in demand for contractor talent as projects begin to resume. But how do freelancers get started?


Start small

If you already have a full-time job, it's worth taking on one or two clients in your spare time first. This way, you can get a few projects under your belt and work to built your client base. It's also a good idea to start with local contacts; although freelance work can eventually open you up to work with international clients more easily, it may be easier to establish relationships through friends, old work colleagues and members of the local community until your portfolio is built up.


Build reputation and relationships 

Building professional relationships with your connections is crucial, especially in the early stages of your freelance career. Often, the best referrals for new clients comes from word of mouth recommendations. It's important to build a good reputation from day one, and can be helped by incorporating social media, such a LinkedIn page, to showcase your projects and allow previous clients to leave reviews.


Don't expect business to pick up quickly

Becoming a freelancer can be tricky, and many people give up after a few months. Building a freelance career certainly takes dedication, and it will take time to build up your reputation and client base. Perseverance is key. Remember: every project or client you take on is bringing you one step closer to the freelance career you want.


Utilise clubs and organisations Getting to know inspirational people who can help you become a freelancer during in a pandemic can be difficult, but places like The Future Strategy Club can offer a place to interact and learn from other contractors who can give you invaluable advice.


Justin Small, Founder of The Future Strategy Club - a marketplace and education platform for the finest contractor talent - discusses the importance of freelancers post-COVID: 

"Whether it be to accommodate childcare, have a healthier work/life balance, or even down to furlough or unemployment as a result of the pandemic, the appeal of freelance work is a viable choice for many people today.


Many businesses have had to or will need to pivot quickly and effectively to remain competitive in the market post-lockdown, so experienced talent will be required to help achieve these. Businesses of all sizes, but particularly SMEs, will need to embrace the gig economy quickly to pivot, retrain staff and rebuild their business model to help them survive and then thrive as the economy begins to bounce back.”

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