Into each working life a little rain must fall. For me, the first sign of the flood was a retrenchment from the big company that had been his home. That’s when he set out, like Noah, to build himself a vessel for survival in a tough business world.
Into my fifties the company I worked for was bought by a large, successful corporate behemoth. Lunchtime chats were filled with fear, trepidation and paranoia as we noted an increasing number of closed-door meetings and the persistent presence of strangers who wandered quietly among us, smiling, asking questions and taking notes.
Soon we had our first company meeting and the newly appointed CEO – a total stranger – discussed his vision of the future. We noted nervously that not all departments were mentioned, not all people were acknowledged, and not all running projects were listed on his slick PowerPoint presentation.
Sipping coffee and munching on midday snacks, we were unanimous in our verdict that the axe was about to fall. The only questions were when and on whom?
As I was driving home, I thought about Noah and his ark. Like him, I was not in control of the great big changes that were happening. And like him, I could still take action. I might not be able to stop the rain, but I could build a vessel to carry my family and me to our new beginning.
That night, I sat at my desk and made a list of things I needed to do:
- Construct a financial plan
Research financial and insurance options and see what could be done to minimise the impact of a sudden loss of income
- Think about what I love to do
Explore what I love, can do, do well, have done before, for which I can find referees, supporters and – most crucially – paying clients
- Plan how to create a work-alternative without compromising my current position
My rule of thumb was that all work on Noah’s Ark must be done in my own time, during lunchtime and weekends, using my own resources
- Understand my legal rights, in case of retrenchment
I wanted to understand my legal position so that nothing came as a surprise.
With the list completed, I slept better that night. I was ready to build my ark.
During the following weeks I put my blueprint in place. I set aside 10% of my salary to cover the costs needed to start a new business. And I reworked my financial plan so that I would be ready for the rain.
I realised that my career has been built on things I did between bouts of serious writing. I love language. I love reading. I enjoy helping people and companies communicate and express their brands and services.
In other words, I have “word smous” – a paddler of words – written all over my path. I can write all kinds of things for people: their press releases, yearly reports, AGM speeches, website content, and more. Good communication builds good reputations.
I thought of a name for my business: Afrodigiac, or Digiacs, in short. I registered an internet domain, found a cheap hosting provider and used WordPress to create my website. I had business cards printed. I uploaded my articles and examples of my copywriting. I updated and uploaded my CV.
Then I prepared my ‘launch email’, explaining what my business is about and announcing that I am ready for orders. I asked the recipients to share the email with people they thought may need my services.
It took eight more months before the rain came. By then my finances were robust, the website had grown and I had a network of potential clients.
I floated away on my ark. After some time the rain stopped, the water subsided and I found myself on a mountain looking at a rainbow thinking “That wasn’t so bad.” And look at where I am now – getting paid by clients who value my contribution while doing work I love.
Having floated away on the waves of the flood, surviving instead of drowning, having done my homework and landed safely in my Ararat of self-employment, I could look up at the rainbow and enjoy the fruit of my foresight.