In 2019, I made plans to buy a tiny home and travel. At the time, economists whispered about an impending recession but could not pinpoint or agree on what would cause it. Most people said the interest rates had remained too low for too long and that the housing market would crash. Ultimately, it was the pandemic that took down the economy.
As a high-risk person, it only made sense to give up my part-time gigs and focus on my business. But that, in itself, was a risk. I lost 90% of my clients in the first three weeks. It took a month or two of burning myself out to keep the business on track and secure new clients.
Well, I made it through one downturn before.
People often tell me how “lucky” I am to live my life, but it took long years of working three jobs, seven days per week, to get here. I can assure you: I did not feel lucky to leave a 16-hour shift to then go home and do three hours of client work before going to bed at midday. What turned my business around was getting my first contract with a company that provided regular work. It was the security I needed.
But even after that, I often wondered whether my business could handle a recession. I thought about how well I could emerge from the other side and whether my business would survive at all.
The pandemic provided an answer. It was hard, grueling work that ultimately impacted my health. But I survived. I could even argue that my business emerged stronger and better than before the pandemic took more enjoyable but lower-paying clients off the market.
Not long after this, I bought the FJ Cruiser and the RV and started traveling full-time.
My biggest client sent the dreaded recession email.
In 2020, after clawing my way out of the pandemic-induced economic downturn, my biggest client was still my primary source of work. Roughly 90% of my income came from them, making me increasingly uncomfortable.
I questioned whether keeping as many eggs in Company 1’s basket was a good idea. In 2021, I renewed my search for new clients and found another big company that started to compete with them for my time.
I’m glad I did this because my fear finally came to pass. Last week, I realized that Company 1’s queue was empty and had also been empty the week before that … and the week before that.
Today, I received an email from the company acknowledging that orders were drying up. It did not feel it would have to shut its doors, but it implored all the contractors on board to give our absolute best work.
The team leads also shared that they would prioritize their best writers for work. I already know that includes me because I have always had work, even when the queues are empty.
Nevertheless, they officially raised the alarm.
I am grateful for the choices I made.
Complacency is the most significant impediment to progress. The more comfortable we get with where we are, the less motivated we feel to improve our circumstances. I’m glad I continued to evaluate how I spread my eggs across baskets, or my business would have taken a severe hit with my biggest client going down.
The truth is that I have been doing more work for other clients than I have for them in the past year. Some weeks I don’t accept any assignments from them at all. In that way, I have weather-proofed my business from the potential turmoil ahead, but there is no knowing for sure what an actual recession might bring.
To make matters more interesting ― or perhaps worse ― I received this email while in Spain. I came here to evaluate whether it was time to move to Europe. Now, instead of asking whether I want to come here, I must ask whether my clients will continue to provide enough work to make it financially possible.
Always plan the end before the beginning.
When I started this blog almost a decade ago, I shared that I wanted to do one big thing differently. I wanted to leave my comfort zone and take calculated risks that could bring me new opportunities and joy.
Taking off on an adventure with my cat across North America has helped me achieve exactly that. Thinking of expanding our adventures to Europe? Even more so!
But, before I ever started plotting my escape from Georgia, I considered my exit plan. What would I do if I had to pack everything up and give up my nomadic life for one reason or another? What were my options?
The answers to those questions led me to leave my home in Atlanta precisely as it was. Should I ever need to return, it is sitting in almost exactly the same condition as when I left it in 2020.
My work desk.
Everything is still there.
Sure. Mom and I will lose the extra money from renting it out on Airbnb. But, needless to say, she is more than a little excited by the prospect that I may finally come home this year.
So, will a recession finally put an end to my nomadic life?
I won’t say it’s not possible. Contingency plans are never 100% guaranteed to work. I hope they do, but if they don’t, I will go right back to Atlanta and rebuild my business while I plot my next move.
- If you are also considering your exit strategy from a nomadic life, I recommend checking out my newsletter: Design Your Exit Strategy Before Hitting the Road.
- Curious to know what my life has been like in Spain so far? I still write about my travels and adventures on Substack: What Are My First Impressions of Málaga, Spain?
Have you started thinking about what the recession might mean for your job or finances? Leave a comment!