Small, Home-Based Business Work and the Flux Capacitor: 4 Tips to Surviving Change

Jeff Zbar

After 25 years as a South Florida freelance corporate copywriter and journalist for national magazines and websites, you’d think I would have installed a flux capacitor in my home-based writing and editorial consulting business. You may know it as the little device from the Back to the Future franchise which empowered time travel. But it has so many more uses than just Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean time machine.

According to Uncyclopedia, the flux capacitor is a failsafe device to ensure failure of something other than that which you’d want to fail. Or something like that. It’s a bit too technical – or far-fetched – for this college journalism grad.

But in the Netherworld of the Unknown that is entrepreneurship, I envision the flux capacitor as a device that could help stave off disaster that comes with the ebbs and flows of client tidings or on the whims and fancies of changing client relations.

What the heck does that mean?

The professional life of the freelance corporate copywriter, like that of the independent graphic designer, website creator or social media consultant, is a career in flux. It’s not that we’re wandering the desert in search of some W-2 gig, or even wavering between freelance and corporate assignments.

No, we’re committed to our indie lifestyle.

Instead, we’re affected by the fluctuations of market cycles and client demands. Just in the past month alone, I’ve had two clients serpentine on some circuitous route which led them away from needing my services.

At the same time, I’ve had two come on board, hot’n’ready for some fresh content.

The problem is, departures take effect much more quickly than client ramp-ups. Cash flow slows much faster than receivables grow.

Sometimes, we’re left in a lurch.

Such is the downside of a well-chosen career in an ill-timed flux.

How can the indie navigate this path?

First, freshen your online persona. How’s that LinkedIn profile, profession (or personal) Facebook page or corporate website? It’s typical to let marketing run fallow while delivering actual paying work. Bad move. Regardless, take the downtime to beef up your online appeal.

Next, diversify. This isn’t about growing into unfamiliar work areas; being “all things to all people” generally is a bad move. Here, “diversify” is about diversifying the client base. Take your product to new areas you’ve not explored in the past. Network with new sources. Invite clients or network sources to breakfast or lunch, attend networking events. Think about new markets that could benefit from your service.

Third, always be fishing, or hunting, or harvesting. Whatever your metaphor, continual nurturing of prospective clients is vital to keeping the flow of new business prospects alive. Admit you’ve likely succumbed to the first tip above, and start marketing with renewed vigor.

Finally, always be prepared – mentally, financially and professionally – for the flux. Whether you’re a Form-1099er or a W-2er, flux happens. You can lose a gig or your job. From personal branding to business development, to exploring new areas, to having a nest egg set aside on the if-come bad tidings arrive, being prepared means that while change may catch you off guard, you won’t be caught flat-footed.

So, no, I have no flux capacitor in my home-based writing business. But I have a four-part strategy to help stave off chaos.

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