The businesses born from a pandemic

Has COVID-19 sparked a rise in the side hustle economy?

The global pandemic has put the economy into turmoil. With around 9.6million job roles furloughed and over 190,356 made redundant as a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic downturn, many are waiting to return to work or are still seeking alternative employment.

At a time of such unprecedented uncertainty, with higher powers dictating our options when it comes to employment, some of those left in a state of limbo shrewdly made use of the extra time to reflect and seized the opportunity to create their own slice of income.

The rise of the side hustle economy

Even before the lead-up to lockdown, the humble side hustle was in the limelight. Millennials particularly have sought extra-curricular income to keep on top of rising living costs by launching an additional business venture on the side of their day job.

Back in 2018 Henley Business School estimated that side hustles generated around £72 billion for the UK economy. That number is only set to rise in the wake of the pandemic as a recent study conducted by GoDaddy cited that one in five people considered setting up a new business venture during lockdown.

One such millennial was Hinterlands Beard Oil Founder Josh Overton. While working full time as a Product Designer, he experimented with making organic beard oils in his spare time.

“Before the lockdown I made the beard oils primarily for myself and sold offline to a few friends occasionally.

Then all of a sudden, we all found ourselves stuck at home pretty much 24/7. Once the lockdown hit I decided it was long overdue to try and launch this as a side hustle for real.”

Making waves while flattening the curve

Whether it was pivoting an existing business to fit around the changing consumer needs during lockdown, or simply channelling a deeper creativity, many Living Room entrepreneurs have emerged from these times of crisis with new and forward-thinking ideas. Forming business strategies which have found relevance as a result of the unprecedented circumstances we now inhabit, many entrepreneurs who have launched a new business during the pandemic have carefully considered the very new set of consumer needs. During this time we have seen some truly astute individuals who have completely pivoted their priorities to react to a totally new age of customer experience.  

At a time of turmoil for the Events and Hospitality industry, Founder of Cock and Tail drinks, Fred Campbell flexed his business to launch a new cocktail delivery brand at a time when events were strictly off-limits.

“Customers are reviewing their priorities now and are looking to support those who are being creative or are pivoting their strategy in times of crisis. If you’re present and active on all your channels rather than waiting to see how things pan out you stand yourself in good stead for the longer-term simply by being proactive as well as reactive.”

Founder of Bunhead Bakes, a baked goods delivery brand serving South London, also found this new calling during the pandemic:

“I was delivering bakes and stuff to friends and family at a distance and then someone suggested I start selling them so I put an ad out on Instagram, my sister designed the logo and it’s just shot off from there really. Now I’m delivering sourdough buns and more to your door all across South London.”  

These businesses born during an economic downturn are said to be more resilient. Designed to thrive in times of crisis, they pave the way for the future of small businesses and often flourish in the long term. Here’s hoping the new wave of gritty, future-proofed small businesses are set to emerge from the ashes unscathed.

If you launched a new venture during lockdown, or you’re planning ahead with a new side hustle, check out how Coupay could help you take payments faster and securely with our smart bank transfer link.

How to future-proof your customer payment processes for Gen Z users

The world is making way for the new age of Gen Z customer. Just as marketing teams, software designers and customer service departments had to make way for the new demands of millennials entering the consumer space, it’s time to welcome Gen Z on a huge scale.

Reportedly set to make up 40% of all consumers as of 2020, Gen Z already have a bad reputation as screen addicts with super short attention spans. While this may be true in relative terms, as a generation who have grown up knowing nothing of a world without the internet, can we really be surprised?

What does the Gen Z consumer really look like?

The generation born after 1995 are known for being social-media-savvy digital natives. While they are often dismissed by older generations as being ‘double screeners’ or ‘always on’, it’s not just all about TikTok and Snapchat for these young consumers. They do their research when it comes to brands, they are an ethical generation who care about making change in the world and they are particularly health oriented, and technologically advanced.  

Ask Gen Z what a fax machine is, they are unlikely to know the answer. Born after the painful days of dial-up tones, MSN Messenger or the Nokia 3310, they will struggle to fathom how the world was once not in an always ‘connected’ state. They will however, probably be able to tell you the exact rate of deforestation in the Amazon and they’re also much more likely to part with their money on brands and products that have trusted eco credentials, are the most authentic and ethical on the market.

How to attract, engage and retain a Gen Z customer base

Set to represent 82 million people, making up the largest group in the US consumer population by 2026, Gen Z will undeniably introduce new challenges to the table, but rather than fear the influx of the new modern consumer, it’s time to just get to know your Gen Z audience. As the newest, brightest-eyed and bushier tailed members of the consumer landscape, Gen Z’s for the most part, haven’t formed loyalties yet in terms of their chosen brands. That mean’s now is the time to look at your business continuity, strategize to future proof your processes and pivot to attract and captivate your Gen Z audiences.  

Gen Zs, having grown up as true digital natives, surrounded by constant messaging and information, have developed an internal filter to help them drown out some of that constant noise. While they reportedly have an attention span of only 8 seconds compared with the millennials 12 seconds, this means you and your marketing teams have to be prepared for the extremely discerning, fast paced consumer behaviour of this new Gen Z audience.

Make sure your brand can withstand the rigorous research, and sometimes short patience of a discerning Gen Z consumer. This generation are cynical, and they are more likely to respond to personal recommendations of friends and family than they are to be influenced by traditional advertising methods.

What does a good customer experience look like for Gen Z?

With a reported eight second attention span, user experience for Gen Z audiences needs to be seamless, streamlined and glitch-free at every touchpoint. These young adults are the Connoisseurs of User Experience, so now is the time to truly fine tune your consumer contact points by future proofing your payment methods and processes, as well as your customer service and marketing endeavours.

When it comes to customer payments for example, you can be sure that your Gen Z customers will balk at the idea of having to manually input data or spend time painstakingly entering bank details online.

According to Business Insider, 75% of Gen Z consumers use digital payment apps or P2P apps, with contact-free payments apps such as Zelle and payment sharing platforms such as Venmo proving increasingly popular with Gen Z users in the US.  

Businesses with a high concentration of Gen Z customers are looking for new ways to take payments or introduce payment methods that are more engaging and friction-free for this short-attention-spanned audience. For example, letting agents in university towns across the UK are seeking ways to ensure that they can easily take recurring payments and one-off payments from their student renters in the manner that suits this younger consumer; quickly, efficiently and without having to input extensive bank details manually.

By implementing a Smart Bank Transfer payment method such as Coupay’s streamlined payment requests, businesses can receive payments online for free (or approximately 20p per transaction) and generally make the payment process more friction free and agile for customers, empowering them to make payments via their chosen device whether that be on the move, or at their desk.

With Coupay’s Smart Bank Transfer, customers simply click on their digital payment request, when, transported through to their own banking app, they can make your payment within four easy clicks. No muss, no fuss, and no bank detail entry needed. Take a tour of our Coupay use cases to see how you might future-proof your payment processes for the impending influx of Gen Z.

Has the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a freelancer revolution?

March 2020 saw the start of a global pandemic which would shake the UK workforce to the core. While rainbows adorned windows and we clapped for carers, many of us not working in the care industry were either furloughed or out of a job. With the economy in tatters, UK firms have been forced to make over 100,000 job cuts either before lockdown or after the furlough scheme has ended. 

With many seeking alternative employment whilst industries hope to recover, the option of self-employment has been an appealing beacon of hope for many people who have been out of work during the UK’s nationwide lockdown.

While the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic saw many adopt a freelance side hustle, channel a creative outlet or launch a new business venture the UK online freelancer platform People per Hour reported an “unprecedented rise” in the number of freelance users. London saw a 500% increase in the number of people signing up for freelance gig work.

How to keep ahead of the curve amid rising freelancer competition

But with so many taking up the self-employment mantel (seemingly temporarily), freelancer fees are being driven down as competition is rife. So how can long-time freelancers and small business owners continue to stand out from an even vaster crowd? 

Invest in yourself

Upskilling and personal development became a key part of life during lockdown, whether it was learning how to bake banana bread (yes, let’s admit it we all jumped on that bandwagon!) or taking an online photography course, many people made the most of their free time by investing a little in themselves. Online learning platforms such as Coursera reported more than 25 million enrolments since mid-march (an increase of over 500% compared with the same period last year).

If you’re looking for a number of different strings to add to your bow, or specific skills to add to the portfolio, online learning app Skillshare is a good, budget friendly option. Check out courses from The Open University for more comprehensive, academic distance learning or to learn a little more specifically about learning how to market and grow your new venture, hubspot academy is a handy resource.

Break the mould

While venturing into a totally different industry might seem daunting, it can be easier than you think if you spend the time to think strategically. Designers of writers might want to set up a separate portfolio for a different business area they’d like to break into, or business owners might think about a b2b strand alongside their consumer customer base.

Embracing a new side hustle is also a great way to gain traction into a totally different realm to the nine-to-five, whether it’s writing a novel, taking up pottery or setting up as an online language teacher, taking a leap of faith in a new industry can give a little variety to your daily routine and can also prove profitable in the long run.

Take care of your tech

Getting organised and streamlining your day-to-day processes is timely and sometimes, lets face it, the last thing you fancy doing on any given day. But remember- you only have to get your ducks in a row once, then if you’ve chosen wisely your clever technology does the rest for you. For example, trim down your tech by investing in tools designed specifically for the self-employed.

Applications such as FreeAgent combine project management, invoicing, and time logging software so that you can amalgamate all your daily processes without the need for a patchwork of technological tools. Applications such as Coupay can help you to streamline the payment process too, allowing you to receive payments online free (or at approximately 20p per transaction). Simply generate your unique Coupay link and add it to your invoices to take payments online as an easy, secure, smart business transfer, saving you and your clients time on extra admin and reducing the risk of late payments.

For an introduction on how our smart bank transfer works for your business venture, take a tour of Coupay or get in touch with one of our helpful experts to learn about a new way to take payments.

4 ways to avoid late payments with Coupay

Freelance life undeniably has its perks. Working from wherever you want, around your own schedule, and truly doing something you love are just a few of the benefits of being freelance. But, as with every career path, it has its downsides too.

Lack of financial control is one of these downsides, more specifically, not getting paid on time is one of the biggest headaches for freelancers.

Chasing late payments is a freelancer challenge as old as time. If you’ve ever asked yourself the question- ‘what do I need to do to get clients to pay me promptly’? then you’re not alone. While clients may love the work you do, getting them to open the wallet often remains a bigger challenge.  

Cropped image of mid adult businessman calculating invoice at office desk

The problem of payments in a freelancer landscape

Global freelancing platform, Upwork recently published its US freelancer report which states that ‘living paycheck to paycheck’ and ‘not being paid fairly’, are two of the key challenges for freelancers.

In a world where almost everything is instant, we work with increasingly digital-savvy customers on a day-to-day basis, customers who like to keep things simple.

Did you know, the average millennial has an attention span of just 12 seconds?

That means, while your customers pinball their way through their working day time stops for you, as you draft yet another very carefully worded payment-chaser email.  

Working with an increasingly digital-savvy customer base also means, the best way to avoid late remuneration is to make that process and your payment methods as quick and friction-free as possible.

Coupay’s smart bank transfer provides you with a secure, encrypted link which enables you to take payment online for free (or at approx. 20p per transaction) and your clients to quickly and easily make an online bank transfer in just four clicks.

Here are our 4 ways you can use Coupay’s smart bank transfer software to help you regain control over your payment schedules.

Send a secure payment request by text message

Take payments over the phone, but in a totally new way. Clients and customers who know you well or have worked with for a long time will want to find the most efficient to pay you without spending their time on unnecessary admin. For clients who prefer using their phone to their laptop, sending your payment request via text might just be the most convenient and efficient option. For your tech-savvy, time-poor clients who like working on the move, a mobile bank transfer is a strong option and can truly trim down admin time for both you and your client. This is a particularly efficient option if you need to take recurring payments online without your client setting up a standing order or direct debit.

Embed your payment request link in an email

Of course, many of us still communicate via email when it comes to invoice payments. For a more desktop-friendly, slightly more formal approach, you could simply generate your Coupay payment request via the easy to use dashboard, copy it to your clipboard and hyperlink it within the text body of your email. This means that your customers can simply click the link from your invoice email or payment-chaser email which then guides them through to their business banking platform in just a couple of easy steps. This enables you to take payments in just a matter of four easy clicks for your customer.

Include it in your invoices

In addition to inclusion in your invoice email, it’s important to embed the Coupay payment request within the invoice as well. Our secure payment connector is designed for quick and easy inclusion in your regular or ad-hoc invoices. This one works in the same way as with an email, simply generate your unique payment link via the handy Coupay dashboard, copy the link and embed it in the ‘payment details’ section of your invoice to make the payment process more efficient for both you and your customers.  This way, your customers can check the invoice and then make payment instantly.

Align your Coupay account with QuickBooks

If you use QuickBooks accounting software to help manage your accounts and streamline your invoicing processes, you can now integrate Coupay’s secure link payment solution to work in tandem with your QuickBooks account. This means that the whole process can be fully automated for you, from our secure payment link generation to the sending and filing of your invoices and receiving payment in QuickBooks.

So while you can’t (unfortunately!) force clients to pay you on time, you can make it easier for your customers to significantly reduce time on the administrative process, giving them a more pleasing, more mobile payment journey than before.

Coupay’s mission is to make the payment process as friction-free and painless as possible, not just for you but also for your customers. Sign up now for a one-month free trial to see how our secure, friction-free Smart Bank Transfer system could work for you.

How to streamline your freelance business processes

As a freelancer or small business owner, one of the biggest challenges is how best to spend your time. While prioritisation is mostly prescriptive as an employee, when you own the business, knowing what should come first is a different matter.

While many freelancers fall into a creative black hole, coming up with heaps of ideas or simply over-servicing clients, this is probably the most efficient way to throw your hard-earned money down the drain. The way you charge your clients and how efficiently you make use your time can have a huge effect on your bottom line.

But being a freelancer means having several different jobs, with multiple plates to juggle and daily learning and development all in the mix. Learning to be your own accountant, business administrator, sales and marketing strategist as well as your actual freelancer title means that you need to be able to sometimes step back to see the wood for the trees and maximise your time effectively.

But how do you cut through all the daily noise, filter out the bad habits and separate the profitable ideas from the ‘nice to have’ brainwaves? Over servicing clients is a freelancer challenge as old as time- here are some of our simple tips on how to strip it all back and start with the basics.