06Apr
2020
How to Survive and Hustle Through the Pandemic as a Freelancer

Even though we are bummed out that all of our favourite events have been postponed this year, it’s important to think about the event crew that are struggling for work during these tough times.

 

Although it feels like all doom and gloom at the moment, we want to encourage anyone that works in the event industry to not give up. Use this time to prep for the future and be ready to hit the scene hard once things start to get back to normal.

For some inspiration, we caught up with Entertainment Business Management Alumni - George Kostopoulos. George runs HABBIT, a production and event services company which has unfortunately come to a halt for the minute, but he isn’t letting that stop him from moving forward and completing goals. 

We had a chat with George to find out how he is continuing to work through this crisis, what he recommends as alternatives for those who are stuck and remind everyone that we are all in this together.

How has this affected your business and others around you?

Sadly, every event I was booked to either be a part of or organise has been cancelled or postponed to a later date. This has created uncertainty within the event industry for not only businesses but for customers. 

For others around me, it’s extremely tough. I work heavily in the technical production side of events and there are companies that own millions of dollars’ worth of equipment, stored in large warehouses with large amounts of staff. I can honestly say, each and every one of them have had to make sacrifices, all in the hope that their business will still be standing on the other side of this pandemic.

What are you doing whilst this is happening?

I’ve been talking regularly with my clients and other companies that I work with to work on other revenue streams. We’re told about this from day 1 of business school, “don’t have all of your eggs in one basket”, but the reality is a little different. For a lot of people, this pandemic hit so quickly that no one could predict the quick cancellation of so many events to occur within a 48-hour period without being able to protect ourselves.

I have two businesses thankfully, one focuses on the events industry, the other is event I.T. The I.T business has allowed us to tap into markets like web hosting and office I.T and AV installations. That business is still in its infancy and I couldn’t support myself or my business partner alone, but it’s better than nothing and is going to allow me to develop these skills in the interim.

Have you been staying connected to your fellow freelancers and clients?

Of course! We’re a tight knit industry. I’ve messaged and called a bunch of freelancer friends in my circle, passing on financial advice and mental support. It’s important to keep the discussions going and not just literally isolate yourself.

As for clients, we’ve been talking every day since this all started, with lots to reveal in the future.

What do you recommend business wise to reduce business risk?

This is a tough question as everyone’s financial situation is different. My advice is mainly targeted towards individuals and sole traders.

Cut everything that’s not a hard cost; remove the eating out, multiple streaming services, unnecessary drives to locations etc. These things won’t keep your stomach full or a roof over your head. Once you’ve established your hard costs such as rent, loans, leases, groceries etc, start making the phone calls to people. Ask your landlord, “I need extra time for my rent”, chances are they’re in the same position and have made the same call on their own properties, chances are your landlord will understand.

Once you’ve figured out where you’re at with your finances, re-budget and see if you can make it work and if you can find work elsewhere. I know people moving back home with their parents so that they don’t need to tap into their savings. Call your accountant or get some advice from your parents, friends or relatives. I’m also happy to jump on an email - george@habbit.com.au - if people need help. There’s no shortage of support we can give each other.

What are you recommending event industry professionals to do in the meantime?

Don’t sit at home and do nothing. You need to find other ways to capitalise on the opportunities that were pulled from you. On Tuesday for instance, I made a list of everything I would like to do, like cleaning the garage, sorting out my tool kits, catching up on office admin work and giving my I.T business the time it deserves in order to thrive.

Advance your skills too. I’ll be getting certified to operate a scissor lift, boom lift and forklift. Become better at what you’re already passionate about or learn a new skill that you’ve been wanting to tap into. Don’t forget, once this whole pandemic blows over, there will be a massive spike in industry professionals who are well skilled and trained in several fields, businesses will still want to reduce their expenditure to make up for what they lost this year.

What can everyone else do to help support freelancers?

If you know of any job opportunities in another field of work, offer it to freelancers out of work to help them get by. I know a tour manager who now helps stacks the shelves at Coles, he’s using what’s available out there and taking the opportunity.

Find petitions to help sign and be a part of. Call your local member of parliament and inform them about what’s going on in the events world so that they can bring these issues to parliament. Support, as small as it seems, is appreciated and welcomed in the industry.

For those still working from home, what advice can you give them in keeping motivated?

Stick to your normal work routine of when you would normally start work and finish. No time like the present to hustle, but still take the opportunity to relax of course, our mental health is as important as ever during this time.

To learn more about studying Entertainment Business Management, click here.