This Economy is for All of Us.
From mid-2002 through mid-2008, I was employed as the Creative Director at a Long Island Advertising Agency. This allowed me to quickly rise to a six-figure salary. This was what I considered a dream job, as I enjoyed the work and the high salary. It was also convenient that the job was only a ten-minute drive from my house. It couldn’t be more perfect.
Even though 2008 was filled with stories about people losing their jobs due to the economy’s decline, I didn’t think it would have any impact on me. Even though things were going well in my life, it seemed like only people in the public sector would be affected. I didn’t know that any economic downturn would have anything to do whatsoever with me.
Just like I did for six years, Monday, May 19, 2008, was my first day of work. I started the day by sitting at my computer, planning how I would handle my busy week’s project schedule. My boss was unusually early to work that day, but I didn’t think twice about it because he sometimes schedules appointments at this time to welcome new clients. He called me via intercom to request my presence at his office. Although I was aware that the business had slowed down, I wasn’t ready to have a conversation about it. My duties were more focused on the creative side of the business and less on the financial. He explained that his business was declining rapidly in the past few months and that the agency was suffering from a lack of meaningful income. He noted that several accounts had already made plans to leave and that others had indicated they would be cutting their advertising budgets once their contracts were up. The short version is that he had been cutting staff over the past few months to try and stay afloat. However, with the dire economic outlook, advertisers were withdrawing at an alarming pace, making it impossible for him to financially weather the storm. He told me at the end of the day that the agency was closed and that I could leave anytime.
I never imagined that I would have to start looking for a job.
I realized that I wasn’t like other people and didn’t need to worry about finding a new job. Because I am skilled and experienced, I earn a lot for my work, so there are many agencies that would love to have me join their ranks. I actually made a few calls to industry contacts and was invited to dinner by some. The people I spoke to gave me hope that their companies might have openings and that my situation would eventually turn into a job. After hearing a lot of excuses and stalling tactics over the next few weeks, I realized that reality was setting in. I realized that networking at this level would not be fruitful. I started to respond to classified ads and scheduled interviews. I also joined job search sites and created a profile. I also ran Craigslist ads, signed up for job alerts online, and sent out resumes for anyone who was interested. My confidence was the lowest it had been in my working life. Even though I was able to attend some face-to-face interviews, I quickly realized that I would not be able to get the job, even if I offered to cover the cost. I also joined business sites and created a profile.
It became clear that I was without job prospects and had no chance of finding any kind of work. I faced the reality of being stuck in a rut with no way out. Although I was grateful for my wife’s decent career, I realized that I was the main contributor to all expenses. With a child still in school, it was impossible to make an income and maintain my share. You know what? Even though I didn’t like the idea, we had enough savings to last us for around a year while we searched for that perfect job. I felt pretty healthy, and the dry spell would end once I found the right circumstances. Let’s face it; this downturn could last for a very long time.
Now my back is against the wall.
One year later, my savings were nearing their end, and I had no reasonable prospect of finding employment. I was at the bottom of my rope. I was unable to get any counterman job in any type of business at any level. I was stuck in the dump with no prospects. What was I to do? To make things worse, I wasn’t eligible for unemployment because I was an independent contractor working under a 1099 and paying my own taxes. There was no other place to go. I had to accept the fact that I was at my personal ground zero.
Wait, there’s more! There was something that had not changed since I lost my job. I had my talent and essential intelligence intact. If I genuinely believed that I was a creative person, then I should be able to apply it to my life. I put aside any negative feelings about myself and began to think about how I could make my own opportunities at earning a living. That was when I began to fight back.
I was tired of the negativity around me, so I decided to make a plan to change my life. This was when panic subsided, and I started to develop a plan that would get me in the position I am in today: attracting business and making a meaningful living. I did it all by myself. I can honestly say that I feel great about myself and will share it with you.
It is time to get serious about creating a way out of this mess.
Let’s start by talking about you. As an example, I will use my own skills. You might have many different skills. We are all pretty much the same. My experience spans the entire spectrum of direct mail, broadcast and print advertising. There are many beautiful jobs you could do that will make you a good living, such as a plumber, electrician, sprinkler installer, or automobile mechanic. You can apply what I have to say about myself directly to your situation. Although it might have a different job title, my plan works for all. You can clean houses, make jewellery, bake cookies, or pick up animal droppings as a way to earn a living. All of these are real jobs that can be successful in the same way that I have achieved mine. They all share the same principle of making their successful careers.
I had a lot of time to myself during my first year without a job. I learned everything I could about the internet through job hunting and housekeeping. Although I was not raised with the internet, I realized its importance and potential and began to learn more about it. I actually got into it deeply, learning how to create websites and participate in search engine optimization. This helped me to increase my marketability in broadcast and print. It shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t already familiar with the internet. This will allow you to think about alternative ways of searching for work and how to use your intelligence and talents to create new paths that will give you hope and new opportunities. You will be a success on the internet. This will require you to use your work ethic and old-school skills and deliver it to a new audience in a new format. This was an exciting challenge for me.
I imagined all the people who would love my services, but the economy made it impossible for me to charge the usual costs. My thinking on pricing had to change. It was clear to me that I needed to set my prices high enough to attract people and make them pay for my services. For example, a high-end service that I offered might have cost $1000 at regular times, so I set my price to $250. It is a theory that if you don’t have any money for a long time, even a tiny amount, it becomes more critical. It’s amazing how satisfying it is to get people to use you on a consistent basis, as steady money is being put into your pocket for the very first time in a very, very long time.
You are making a new business model that will help you feel better about yourself and increase your chances of making a living. Although you might not create a quick-money scheme, the realization that you can make a living from your business is an inspiring moment that will inspire you to think of new ways to market your products. Your passion will soon be your day job. Friends and family will offer additional suggestions and criticisms, as well as offer valuable feedback. This alone will keep your motivation high until you are ready to take on a substantive role and make your move. In my case, it was as follows:
From all the information I had read, I knew that there were a lot of people interested in what I had. It was thrilling to realize that I could attract a large following if I presented my information in a way that attracted interest. With the positive percentages that I was envisioning, there would be some curious people here and there, which would lead to a significant customer base. After much thought and asking my family and friends for their feedback, I decided that this was the best way to present myself. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring because of an ad in the local paper, I was now able to reach out to as many people as I wanted and from as far as would be reasonable. This gave me the impression that I had a business with unlimited potential.
My new company was named, and I spent less than $15 to register it for a year. Now, I’m ready to move on to the next stage. My next step was to create a website. This would be my office. It was my business’s face to the world, and I didn’t need to spend a dime on files or desks. It was possible to make my business look however I wanted and to give it the feel that I wanted. Although I didn’t need to buy a storefront or brick-and-mortar office, I had to create my site and pay for hosting. You might need to have the money to hire me to build your site and pay a landlord to rent your real estate online. This is what we call “hosting”. These endeavours can be expensive, so you need to shop around for someone who will do it for you for a fair price. You will find that shopping around for everything you need is a signal that you are free from the negative emotions of unemployment and are on the right track to getting back to work. You are now on your way to making an income online. With an online business, you can advertise accessible to a large audience via websites such as Craigslist. It’s better than pounding the pavement for a job, only to be disappointed and rejected in an economy that continues to be very uncertain.
It’s now squarely on your shoulders.
You now have an alternative to worrying about finding meaningful work. Let’s be honest, and it can take some time to get people to know about your website and what you do. But at least they have found a way. There are many busy times and slow times. But it all adds up to a year of decent income. Keep working hard until you get some attention from people. Keep at it until you see results. When people tell you what they like about your offer, you can make adjustments to your message. All of it is a learning and growing process with the possibility of lasting success. You’re in business, my friend. That’s what entrepreneurs must contend with. All the best in your endeavours.