You might be asking yourself how I ended up where I am. I often ask myself that very same question.
Prior to about a year-and-a-half ago, I was making enough money to support myself and my daughter. No, I didn’t have a lot of extra money, but we did go to the movies once in a while or eat at a restaurant.
As I’d been successfully self-employed for at least the previous 5-years, it wasn’t the fact that I was self-employed that started my downfall. Rather, it was my relaxed attitude about pursuing new clients. Which is ironic, really, considering that networking and marketing my clients was what I got hired to do. No, the real reason I am where I am today is that I got too comfortable and reliant on what clients I did have, did very little in-person networking and didn’t have a back-up plan.
What would happen if my clients no longer needed my services or, even worse, had an accident or fell seriously ill? What if my house got broken into and my laptop was stolen? Unfortunately, these ‘what ifs’ became a reality for me in short succession of each other.
Just before Christmas 2011 and the day my 2007 car wouldn’t start, my house got broken into and my 2 laptops (one personal and one loaned to me by a client) were stolen. It took a month for me to line up another laptop, but I lost a month of wages and spent months on the phone with victim services before I felt safe again in my home. I did end up recovering the clients’ laptop, but that’s another post.
On the business front, I had two regular clients who were life partners. In April 2012, one of them fell seriously ill and the other one put their business on hold to take care of their partner. My income went from a reliable 25-30 hours/week to nothing. I was not eligible for employment income*. I realized that what I was doing to make a living needed to be my back-up plan, not my life plan.
What about you? Do you have a back-up plan and/or savings to allow you to live for 6+ months in case you lose your job?
*As of January 2011, self-employed people can now receive special benefits a year after they’ve registered, but this doesn’t include employment loss.