Self-employed Wisconsin woman loses clients during COVID-19, then gets them all back

Posted at 6:38 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 23:34:30-04

Leaving the corporate world to start your company can be a risky thing. Beth Ridley did it less than a year ago.

"Things were going really, really well. I was getting a lot of speaking engagements and consulting clients," Ridley said.

She was coaching companies on workplace culture and leadership and self-employment didn't seem so scary.

Then COVID-19 hit.

"Literally in one day, all of my speaking engagements that were booked were canceled. My clients came back to me and said, 'We have stuff to pause.'"

"It really felt like the rug had been completely pulled out from underneath me," Ridley continued.

She applied for unemployment as an independent contractor and for a small business administration loan. No checks came through.

"So, I started reaching out to my clients and saying, 'Hey, just checking in. I don't expect that you want to pick up the engagement, but how are you doing? I'm here if you want to talk' and people started to take me up on that offer. So, I started doing consulting and coaching and counseling over the phone for free, never talked money, just to let people know I am there for them," Ridley said.

Soon, all of her clients hired her back. The money returned.

Career coach, Shauna Weatherspoon, with Weatherspoon and Associates, applauds Ridley's move, especially for freelancers. She adds, people can find ways to increase their skill set during the pandemic.

"I would encourage you guys to at least take an hour a day just to learn something new or develop a skill further that you already have," said Weatherspoon.

In Beth Ridley's cases, she started doing interactive webinars and learned how to edit her video.

Weatherspoon points out that you don't have to learn alone.

"Collaborating and connecting with other people in different areas that maybe that's not your strong suit, but it's theirs," she said.

"These are very unusual, unprecedented times, so people will always remember them and they will always remember how you made them feel in this time," said Ridley.

"You gotta shift and you cannot take a lot of time to do it. I think a lot of times, you're so caught up in being a perfectionist or trying to figure it all out, that you never get started. You just gotta get started," Weatherspoon adds.

Freelancers can find work at apps or websites like fiverr, upwork, or

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