Avoiding Money Whales
Why you should diversify your income
A whale is a large client that contributes significantly to your income. When you’re a founder, one big account can help you pay rent, buy new equipment, hire, and invest in marketing.
This gravy train is great until it’s not. When you depend on a whale to fund everything, you risk your income when it no longer makes sense for them to retain you.
Long before this happens, you’ll also deal with other unpleasant side effects, such as:
Unreasonable demands from the whale
Limited room for dissent as the whale holds all the power
Distress and attrition among your team when you can’t stand up for them
Your whale suffers too, as they encounter less resistance to potentially bad decisions that you keep quiet about to avoid upsetting them, leading to poor results.
As a business owner, avoid customers turning into whales by always adding new clients to your roster. Do this even when you’re making enough money. Aim for four clients or income sources to de-risk your revenue and bring peace of mind.
Whales aren’t just a business phenomenon — you also encounter them in the workplace. Everyone is a freelancer by default; most people simply choose to have one client — their employer — as their whale.
When the going is good, you can fund your lifestyle, support your family, and swell your savings with one salary.
But your income becomes at risk when there’s trouble in paradise: disagreements with management, missed annual quotas, open hostility between colleagues, or changing market conditions.
Sometimes the trouble is personal: sudden debt, an expensive illness, or an unexpected child. In each of these cases, you’ll need more money — and in most cases, you can only request a salary review once a year.
If you work a 9-5, diversify your income. A side hustle doesn’t always mean a new business — it can mean doing the same job in different ways.
For instance, if you work in social media or SaaS writing, you can work in-house, consult, publish books and guides, teach it to others, or speak about it to business owners. You don’t have to leave your field.
Whatever you do, always have options. It’ll make you richer, put you in a better position to negotiate, and let you leave bad arrangements.
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