I had a chat with a friend of mine a few days back.
He’s the boss, and had to make some difficult decisions about letting some people go.
It was a big decision – he felt the responsibility. But it had to be done for the sake of the business. The business came first.
When you get the inside view of the process at the top of a business, you realise a few things about life.
First, no one is indispensable. No one is irreplaceable.
Felix Dennis, in his book How To Get Rich, says overhead walks on two legs.
He’s also blunt about the value of talent to an employer like him. Your talent and my talent.
Identify talent early, he says. Then you can underpay it for a short time, if the work is challenging enough. Then you pay the market rate. Finally, you’re paying it based on past reputation alone – at which time you must part company with it.
There’s a lesson there. The more expensive you are, the more at risk you are.
So why is it, when you type the headline of this post into Google, most of what you get is stuff on how to manage your feelings and the law about human resources?
Both those are all very well, but if you’re a well-paid employee, you should really have a backup plan in place.
You may never get fired – but you have insurance for your life, for your house. You have a disaster recovery plan at work. Why wouldn’t you have a disaster recovery plan for your job?
So, here are some thoughts about the most important things you need to have in place as part of that plan.
1. Know Your Runway
Robert Kiyosaki defines wealth as the number of days you can survive if you lose your job tomorrow.
Real wealth is not what you have in the bank, it’s not just a money number.
It’s how long you can live on that number.
Take a simple example.
Let’s say you have $100,000 in the bank.
You have a great job. The house, the car, the golf membership, elegant living and holidays cost you $10,000 a month. The same amount that the job pays you.
You’d last 10 months if the job stopped paying you.
That’s your runway.
The longer your runway, the more time you have to get yourself sorted again.
So the first piece of your your plan is to work out what you can slash your monthly costs to if you absolutely had to.
Then, look at your bank account and work out how many months you can go without pay.
If that number is more than 12 – you have a year that you could survive with nothing coming in – you’re doing well.
If it’s less – especially if it’s a lot less – you need to start building your runway now. The time to build it is when you don’t need it.
2. Know Your Value
There’s a saying – price is what you pay, value is what you get.
Value is your secret weapon. It’s the thing you offer that no one else does. It’s why someone should give you money and not someone else.
And in today’s world, there are an unlimited number of ways to become more valuable. Simply becoming good at one thing will make you more valuable.
Choosing that one thing is an important thing for you to do.
All too often, we let that thing be decided by others. You do what you’re told to do at work. You wait for workplace training. You progress up a chosen path.
That won’t make you rich, and it won’t make you safe.
What will make you safe is the stuff you do on your own, your homework, the stuff that you build after hours.
How you use non-billable time is how you increase your value.
Whether it’s a skill like coding or carpentry or a service like sales or social media management – you need to figure out the value you bring.
Because that’s what people will get out their wallets for.
3. Have A Product
But, people have to be able to give you money in exchange for something. In exchange for a product.
Think of everything you do as a product.
A product has certain characteristics:
- It is well defined.
- It has a price.
- It gives the customer a benefit.
A service is no different from a product in this sense. A plumber fixes your plumbing. A copywriter writes your webpages. A programmer creates an application.
What you want to do is avoid the fuzzy world of “jobs” that need to be done. Unless you turn your superb administration skills into a product like being a personal assistant.
The reason for you to treat yourself as a provider of products is that you take control. Instead of being someone that is told what to do by your employer, you think of yourself as someone that provides benefits to an employer.
Any employer willing to pay your price.
Which leads us to the last point.
4. Be Ready To Hustle
You can’t avoid being successful if you are prepared to tell your story to four or five people every day.
If you have something of value to offer, wrapped in a product with a price, then all you need is to find customers.
And the way you do that is by getting off the couch and going to look for them.
It’s like the dad that told his kid there was a million dollars under his shoe.
The kid kept looking under his shoe, until he realised what that meant.
Use up some shoe leather going to find those customers. It’s easier now with LinkedIn and email and the Internet.
It should take you less than a day to find 100 people that might benefit from what you have to offer.
It should take less than a month to contact them all.
As long as you have more than a month of runway – you’re bound to succeed.
At which point, the whole memory of being fired will be a distant one. And the chances are that you will look on the whole episode with gratitude because it set you on this new, better path.
There’s Only One Thing You Need To Do
Have your plan. And be ready to ACT.