The 10th anniversary of 9/11 brought back memories of a difficult time in my life. It wasn’t of course anywhere near the tragedy that the people living in New York faced, but it was the lowest point economically I had reached in my life. I was living in Tokyo working at a start up that was already on shaky grounds when I joined the company.
We were working hard to sign on several new clients-large global companies that had offices in Tokyo. When the 9/11 tragedy hit, all discussions with those companies came to a halt. My company said they could no longer afford to pay staff salaries. The company split and I came to the conclusion that finding a new job was my best option.
Most companies in Tokyo started a hiring freeze. I went to interview after interview. While many companies showed interest, as it got closer towards the end of the year, I got the feeling that companies weren’t going to start employing new people until the start of the next year.
My previous company didn’t have employment insurance. My apartment was around $1300 a month and since I had just moved to Tokyo, I had almost no savings. I had no other option than to apply for any job I could until I could find something I wanted.
I started doing freelance translation work and copy writing. I also taught English. I walked to job interviews to save on the subway fare and just so I could fill in time between job interviews.
I eventually found a new job the following year. I kept teaching on weekends for a while. My new job offered a lot of overtime and I grabbed any extra work I could.
And while it was not like I was homeless and I could have asked my family for help, it was the first time I had to cut out all luxuries and counted every penny I spent.
The experience made me realize how dangerous it was to not only not have any backup savings, but also how dangerous it was to rely on one source of income. I started selling Japanese antiques on eBay, which became a great second income and I discovered doing something new that I really enjoyed. Selling eBay helped me to discover the potential of an internet business and it gave me the motivation to learn how to build websites.
As I made building websites my full time job, I was careful not to rely just on one source of income, like Adsense. I joined many different affiliate programs and started sites on a range of topics. If one source of income dried up, I had several others to fall back on.
Whether you have a highly successful career or your own business, my advice is to make sure you have more than just a single source of income, as you never know what lies ahead.