What Would You Do If You Lost Your Job?

By | May 20, 2007

Bargaineering recently asked: What Would You Do If You Lost Your Job? from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

Indeed ’tis a knotty problem for most people. But for me, it’s not so difficult. You see, I have my own business, so if I lost my own job, then I’d have to fire myself. At one point, though, I was considering not hiring myself: I was costing too much for the company.

To explain, our business is a small language school in Taipei. We’ve been around for about 7 years in several guises, but since September 2006 we have experienced a sudden slowdown in our business, due to larger numbers of students exiting the program at the older age levels. Naturally, this wasn’t unexpected, but there was weakness in several other segments that didn’t make up for the exit of so many students.

Result: an unhappy proposition as our expenses remained static, but our income dropped by about 10~15% y-on-y (enough to wipe out our profit margin!). Since then, we’ve acted to minimize our cost structure as much as possible by cutting out everything that wasn’t ESSENTIAL to the operation of the business. Out went food subsidies which was cut to 0%, then we cut out non-essential refunds, and so on; but, eventually, though we had to re-organize our staffing structure. Three staff members were either terminated, asked to reconsider their job with us, or reassigned duties. In fact, we had expected two of them to take their job more seriously or take on a new set of duties than they had, but they chose to quit instead.

At one point, though, I was considering firing myself, because my contribution to the business couldn’t be financially rewarded. I thought this would be a good way to offset the expenses, but I was persuaded out of it, as I was a revenue generator for the school.

Throughout the whole period, it was quite unsettling, but I’m glad that we went through it. I don’t know longer term if our business will survive, but we have learner or relearned the importance of financial goals, as well as professional and business goals. Before that, we weren’t as focused on managing our financial assets as we were on the teaching side of things. Now looking back, all of the partners are aware of how much money we frittered away on non-essentials. Kinds of makes us a little queasy.

But then valuable lessons never come cheap.