We are already beginning to see what business, jobs and the economy are going to look like in the ‘new normal’. A 9–5 job used to be the norm because you had a certain level of security. If you did your job and didn’t piss off anyone then you’d probably be okay.

Now these norms are out the window. The people in the workforce responsible for hiring are inundated with applicants. I have learned first-hand the downside of a permanent army of employees that creates a fixed cost. That fixed cost becomes hard to flex when events like a health pandemic occur.

What we know already is that the world of work is changing and this has reset the risks related to your business or job and your ability to earn an income. Entire sectors of the economy could be wiped out or see a drastic decline. The industry sectors that looked safe before could become the risky ones.

I have never seen this many people unemployed. Let alone this many talented people — more talented than me — looking for work. The ones who planned for these uncertain times have savings and will take time off. The ones who didn’t are forced back into the world of work on their knees. It’s tough to watch. It could have been me. It still could be me.

There’s nothing to be scared of, though. 

The reality is this: none of us can predict what will happen. What we can do is ensure we don’t bet all of our time, skills and money on only one form of work or source of income. That would be stupid in the new normal.

The business owners who will win out of this change in risk profile associated with 9–5 work will be those who get creative. The winners will be people with two or more incomes built on an ever-expanding set of relevant skills. The skills that will be in demand in the new normal, which may be very different from the skills that got you to where you are today.

Several connections that I speak with regularly (online of course) who have other ways of earning a living are loving this crisis and using it to take time off, spend time with family, and acquire new skills.

We all have a responsibility to ourselves to diversify our businesses and our careers.

I have long been a proponent of having at least two of everything essential in my business life (bank accounts, broadband, telephones, computers, printers, microphones – you name it I’ve got two) which is why I’ve got more than one business. Hey, even George Formby saw the sense in this.

A hobby can reduce your risk

A client of mine is a building contractor who works mainly on large building sites. Being self-employed his income abruptly stopped when the sites closed. So he turned to his hobby of repairing and servicing lawn mowers and serviced more than 100 in April alone. He practices his hobby and charges a small amount whilst simultaneously increasing his skill level. Hobbies can be risk prevention. They allow you to explore your creative freedom and ask yourself “Could I perhaps make money from this in the future?” That one question could change your life.

Innovative businesses will thrive

The businesses that will suffer the most are the ones that don’t innovate.  Innovative businesses have workers who all know how to make decisions. Innovative businesses have a workforce full of IT workers, not one IT department. These are the businesses that will carry less risk in the new economy.

If you have no idea where to start in this new normal start by understanding technology. As investing firm Andreesen Horowitz says, “Software is eating the world.” Don’t go hungry and learn to eat too.

People are still going to have 9–5 Jobs — they will just look different

Don’t misunderstand me. People will still have 9–5 jobs. Not everybody can be Johnny with a laptop earning money from selling online. The fundamental point to get is that 9–5 jobs are no longer safe-havens. This is the new reality:

  • You can be let go at a moment’s notice.
  • You can be talented and lose your job.
  • You can be revenue-generating and be axed.
  • You can have been with the company 30 years and be asked to leave.
  • You can find yourself working for a company that goes bankrupt.

So what can you do?

  • Learn new skills
  • Practice those new skills
  • Generate income from those new skills
  • Drive the price up on those skills
  • Repeat the process and further diversify your skills

With one new skill, you can then begin your separation from the traditional world of work based around a single 9–5 job with a huge amount of risk attached to it, set up or work for an innovative business  create a financial buffer,  and do what you can to go from one income to at least two. 

When the world experiences huge economic disruptions as we have with this pandemic the recovery is always slow; there are several false starts. The worst can look like it’s over and then the economic problem can have a new side effect that nobody predicted. Relying on your financial buffer (known as cash in the bank) allows you to not have to try and predict what will happen.

It’s never a bad time to set yourself free with a financial buffer, which incidentally, is why applying for your Bounce Bank Loan makes a whole lot of sense to me.


Noel Guilford is a straight-talking chartered accountant, business coach and author. He set up Guilford Accounting in 2002 to work solely with business owners who want to grow their businesses and become super-successful. He helps SMEs, who are the lifeblood of the economy, improve their business performance by understanding their numbers and systemising their marketing.