Although the current situation is far from what we used to know as "normal," I believe we will still have a chance to get to our daily routines. This time, we have to be more careful about a number of habits we may have been ignoring.
The Truth About Being Self-Employed
Whether or not you are a professional photographer or a filmmaker, you are probably reading this because you have something to do with the craft. There is a thing that is common for all of us: we use money. As a business owner, I spend my money carefully on new devices, knowledge, marketing, travel, taxes, personal needs, etc. I find that people with different day jobs invest more money on new gear on average than professionals. With that occupation of ours, we don't have a steady flow of money. We are practically unemployed after the end of a project. Believe it or not, I don't have any future-telling abilities, and I don't know if my next project will be big or small. This is why, as a self-employed person, I try to work with the tools I have and be smart in every new investment I make.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome
That's something I doubt I ever had. I've never enjoyed gear for gear's sake. My income is not based on gear reviews, and I don't find owning too much extra gear profitable. I am paid from my making my ideas a reality or helping a client make their ideas a reality by overcoming technical and budget constraints. In other words, I find pleasure in the final products, not in the tools I use. Today, in the current economic situation, I find that habit helpful, because this spares me a lot of investment on devices. The goal of the tools is to make your job easier, not to make you more creative. If I need a piece of gear that I don't own, I rent it. When I rent it multiple times, I may reach the conclusion I have enough income to buy it with earned money, not with money that I will probably earn someday.
Debt and Business
Today it sounds normal to start your business with a bank loan. The problem is that times like these can make your boat sink much faster. If you don't have future prediction abilities, it's probably safer to try to clear your business-related debt and stay away from such a habit. Having enough for covering your basic needs and not owing anything to anybody may save the business you have been building for years in a situation like the current. This may have sounded too pessimistic a year ago, but now, I believe this is common sense.
Rent and Business
Renting a location for a studio or a shop is sometimes inevitable. It's good to go into that direction when one has the means to pay their rent with their own money for some period if there are no clients, the profits are low, or if there are harder times in the economy. It's good to have a plan B, so that you may continue your business even if you don't have a permanent studio. Do you actually need such a location at all times? Can you rent studio space on demand? These are options that should be considered as well. There are famous photographers who don't own studio space.
Back to the Basics
There's one more thing we have in common: we all eat. It's not shameful to grow tomatoes and at the same time, work on big commercial projects. In fact, there are many celebrities who grow some of their own food. Having a garden does not only serve your plate, but being surrounded by plants is very relaxing and inspiring while editing, retouching, writing a script in the open, or when you are thinking about new ideas for your business. However, having a garden requires a front or a backyard, which not everyone has, but making it a goal to have one and starting to grow something on the balcony is a good start.
Being prepared is not being pessimistic. It's managing risk. Enjoying your craft while making smart business decisions is the best balance you can get. There's far more safety in working on great ideas and making clients happy with the tools you can afford than dreaming about great projects with expensive gear no client cares about. Be smart, be creative, be profitable. Don't rush the last one, and your boat will not sink.