So how am I navigating these times? Here’s the first principle I’ve made my own:
1. Think Small. I know, I know. The Volkswagen people said it first, but I’m finding it excellent advice these days. Increasingly, I’m finding that thinking small is the way to go. I was fortunate enough to move to a small town just before the crash. Because I followed my father’s excellent advice I didn’t buy the house for which I was qualified, but the house whose payments I felt confident I could make, even in my worst months. The crash taught me that I should have lowered that bar, but the bottom line is that so far I’ve been able to keep my small house, in its small town, in good shape (except for the AC, which pooped out last night, but I digress).
Thinking small also applies to my work. Like many of the larger corporations, many of my larger corporate clients are finding their way back to prosperity. But in their absence I learned an important lesson. I’m better off to have numerous “small” clients, rather than one or two big ones. I might not earn as much per month, but my income is steadier. Moreover, courting smaller jobs from numerous sources helps to spread my marketing base.
Furthermore, smaller jobs are easier to find. Rather than holding out for the big score, I do a series of small jobs, quickly. They come in, they bounce on my desk, they go out. It requires a different kind of scheduling, but I’m finding that it I enjoy the variety. A lot. Small is good.