“Anybody feeling insecure at the moment?” Is it possible to take control in a world of uncertainty.

By Paul Pinder | 17th January 2020

 

Anybody feeling insecure at the moment? The economy seems to be stuck in some kind of pre Brexit hypnotic paralysis, with no certainty or clarity in terms of the direction things are headed. There was a time when a secure job gave one a feeling of protection from the vagaries of the external chaos. Not any more. That is why I decided to take back control.

When my pension provider wrote to me and informed me that the best way to protect my investment was to spread the risk, it made me think about how that approach can help in other areas. Wouldn’t it be great if my income came from multiple sources, rather than just from one employer? How about if those sources were all in different markets so that a downturn in one wouldn’t necessarily affect the other? Hmm… like this thought process.

When I began to think about it more, it occurred to me that this was something that had subliminally been with me from a very early age. As a child and a teenager, I had yearned for independence, craved to be free from the control of any one person or organisation. I had a Saturday job- in a department store- and saw first hand how disposable student workers were to these places. They dumped you as soon as it suited, leaving you without a means to fund your social life. So rather than take up their offer of an extra day, I took a second job elsewhere on Sundays. Spreading the risk. And an unexpected but welcome by-product was the exposure to a whole new set of people, and new experiences and opportunities. As a kid, I always liked to know that as a last resort, I had the means to handle any situation myself, if need be. I carried my own writing equipment, my own emergency rations, cycled to school to give independence of movement. So it is my nature I guess, and it just so happens that the world has moved in such a way as to make that nature the most suited to modern day survival.

My first senior management job was very stressful. I was expected to take full responsibility for the sales performance of a large organisation, and the consequences of results below expectations were terminal. Then I saw advertised a job, in the evenings, to sell cable TV door to door, and I applied and was accepted. My logic initially was that such a tough selling activity could only enhance my performance in my main job, but now I look back I see that I was also spreading my risk. The extra money was welcome too.

It gave me a taste for more independence again, and as time went on I managed to develop a full Portfolio career. I ran with three roles simultaneously, on a self employed basis. I was a sales agent working in the industry inhabited by my old employer, plus I worked one day a week as a training consultant. I also became a Mystery Shopper, visiting retailers under cover, which I was able to fit in around my other roles as I travelled between customers. The combined income equated to roughly the same as my old salary, but I had spread the risk. With each role, there was potential to ramp up activity if more time became available should one of the other roles slackened off. And furthermore, each activity was in a different economic sector- spreading the risk even further! Now I really had a taste for this!

What was particularly satisfying was that I could run my various activities directly from my home office. It became my Mission Control, the hub from which I balanced the time allocation for each segment, and monitored their level of success. Each branch was completely separate from any other, with different clients, customers and contacts.

Most of all, I felt the benefit of being diverse and therefore protected to an extent from the whim of one market or employer. As time went by, I added and subtracted activities but maintained at least three areas of activity at any one time, sustained over several years. It became a way of life, and I found I worried less about money or job security.

So I ask again- anyone feeling insecure right now? If so, paradoxically the remedy might be to step outside the employed world and try a Portfolio approach!