STRATEGY #5 TO SURVIVE A DOWN ECONOMY
By Kevin M
In the dreary job market of the moment, people are having difficulty with two major areas in particular: keeping a steady income flow and increasing that flow. The increasing level of unemployment is not only eliminating jobs, but it’s also putting a lid on raises and promotion opportunities. This is in large part, the driving force behind the credit crisis and the epidemic of foreclosures and bankruptcies. Is there a way to deal with it without taking unnecessary risks?
In 10 Ways To Survive a Down Economy (published on Christianpf.com June 1) we listed ten strategies to help us deal with the bad economy. Our topic for today, Strategy #5:
Be prepared to cultivate and balance multiple income sources. You may have a full time job and a part time business, or vice versa. Think of your work in terms of an investment portfolio, in which diversification adds strength. There are probably several jobs you are potentially good at; always be on the lookout for new opportunities.
Why increasing income or broadening the income base matter
Recessions produce a storm cellar mentality, a time when most people become concerned primarily with keeping what they have. But even if you keep what you have—your job and your current income level—you’re still falling behind. Official consumer price index (CPI) numbers aside, most of us realize that it costs more to live each year. Health care costs, education, utilities, real estate taxes, auto insurance, car repairs and many other expenses that we pay for products and services we can’t live without have been rising much faster than published numbers suggest. Meanwhile, gasoline and food costs bounce in unpredictable patterns. And what about preparing for retirement? If it often seems overwhelming it’s because it is!
If you’re in a job or business in which options to expand income are limited, it may be time to look outside the box for solutions. If you have a job that’s stuck in neutral, a part time job or side business may be the only way to increase your income. If you have a business already, it may be time to consider working in lines that are unrelated to what your business does as a primary function. If you can take on business lines that run in counter cycles to your main business, one for which peak season occurs when your mainline is in slow season, you may have found a solid way to even out your income stream.
Additional income aside, adding multiple sources will help to strengthen your income base, making you less vulnerable to job loss or income declines. Just being involved in different lines of work can often open doors to opportunities that would never surface if you stay exclusively in your regular occupation. Think wide, rather than deep!
I’m not saying that this is going to happen, but I will suggest the possibility…we may be on the edge of a time when job and income security can no longer be trusted to a single job or employer. We’ve known since well before the current recession that we don’t have anything like the job security workers enjoyed a generation or two ago. In fact, it’s now close to impossible to plan as much as a five year stint with one company with any certainty.
It’s worth noting that major changes often take root in society years before they’re even identified and labeled. True, we’ve been operating in an environment of one worker/one job for decades, but there’s more than a remote chance that a change to multiple income streams is in the pipeline already. Recessions often amplify and accelerate trends that were developing before the downturn hits. We can’t know for certain if that’s the case right now, but it may be worth some preparation just in case.
I’m having trouble keeping one income source, how do I get a second, or a third?
While it might be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to the fact that the economy stinks, and there’s little to do but hold on to the job or business we have and hope to tough it out until the next recovery comes and lifts all boats—including ours—but is that a plan or just a hope? I’ll dare to suggest that we need to be proactive, even now when opportunity seems to be hard to achieve. For the following reasons there may be more opportunity out there right now than there has been in a long while…
- Many companies can no longer afford full time employees and are hiring part timers and outside contractors
- With large numbers of people unemployed and underemployed, non-traditional work arrangements are becoming more common and accepted than ever
- Un-/under-employment is advancing networking as the unemployed and marginally employed band together seeking opportunity
- The internet has enabled would-be entrepreneurs to market to people across the globe at relatively low cost
- In nearly every industry, large enterprises are in retreat, opening markets to upstarts and smaller competitors who can offer a better way
- New trends—like thrift, energy efficiency, and cleaning up the credit mess—are emerging creating opportunities that didn’t exist two years ago
- Financial hardship is causing both people and organizations to seriously consider new ways of doing business that they wouldn’t have entertained in more prosperous times
Each of these factors represents a single overriding dynamic: change. And each presents an opportunity either to stabilize or increase our incomes.
Worried that you job is in jeopardy? Offer to stay at your current job at reduced hours, making up the income loss with a similar arrangement with another company. Did you try a business idea a few years ago that didn’t make it? Maybe it’s time to dust it off and try again—a lot of the competition has quietly disappeared. Have a product or service that you haven’t had much luck selling locally? Maybe you were thinking too small; start a website, link it to other websites and try peddling to the whole world—you can have a marketing budget of zero, which will give you the staying power to keep at it until it works. Not having any luck finding a new job? Get connected with anyone and everyone you can on the social networks—Facebook, Linked In, etc.—and start looking for an *opportunity* rather than a job.
The point is, part time jobs, job sharing, contract arrangements and side businesses are out there, but require a bit more thinking than in the past. Start looking at situations from outside the box, and the opportunities may be more obvious. The part time side business you start today—yes, right here in the middle of the worst economy since the Great Depression—may be your full time career a couple of years from now.