Saturday, April 18, 2009

Now is as good a time as any

A lot of 9 to 5-ers I know have chosen these turbulent times to start something on their own despite the nay sayers. While good times lulled us into a false sense of well being and success, the big bad economic bust-up we find ourselves in the middle of right now, has reinforced a feeling of dread. What is today a comfortable existence may just as easily vanish tomorrow. Job losses and lower incomes are a reality and one way that I have seen some people deal with it is to start a small venture of their own, a plan B if you will, something they always wanted to do but never found the time to take up.
One such acquaintance, 30 year old Nirmal Mohanty*, an IT professional with a big US bank, decided last year that he was fed up of being constantly worried if he was going to get the boot like 14 other of his team mates at work. He, along with a couple of his co-workers, have set up a fledgling start-up which is in the process of developing and testing ERP software aimed specifically at SMEs. He devotes time to this on weekends and says that since he set up his small little venture, he's felt significantly better about himself and the future, ie. his feeling of well being has improved dramatically. He quotes financial radio host Clark Howard, “This is an extraordinary time for entrepreneurs. There’s no better time to start a business than during a recession. Think about it: There’s a surplus of vacant office, retail and commercial space that can be had for below-market value. Ditto for high-quality labor.
Another friend, a banker in Kolkata, 26 year old and single Supratim Adhikary*, has taken up his passion for travel and photography with renewed vigour. When he lost his job with his previous employer, he used his retrenchment money to invest in a high end camera and hit the road. He travelled to places he always wanted to go to but couldn't due to his work pressures. Varanasi, Hrishikesh and Rajasthan provided him with great picture taking opportunities. On his return he sent some of his pictures to some photography related magazines in both India and abroad. His pictures have since been displayed in various magazines and publications like Asian Photography etc. "It opened up another revenue stream for me. The money wasn't great, but it was a huge morale boost. Also, it was incredibly empowering to finally be able to travel and indulge in photography, something I was really passionate about. Its sad that it needed a job loss for me to realise this. I will never give this up again" he says. He has since found another banking job and has also enrolled himself in a long distance photography diploma. Investing in oneself perhaps pays the best dividends.
I suppose there are many lessons that one can take away from all this. These gloomy times, times of worry and anxiety are perhaps the best time to take some time out and invest in something that we always wanted to do. As we've seen, it can be time and money well spent. It is as good a time to follow that passion, that activity which you always wanted to pursue. It not only serves to uplift you mentally as you finally end up doing something that you enjoy immensely, but it can also help to open up an extra income stream to supplement your existing earnings. And what better way to move ahead than by marrying both passion and profession? So what are you waiting for?


*Names have been changed