The Secrets to Surviving a Downturn, Part 1

January 12, 2009

By: Matt Michel

1. Don’t panic
Recessions are generally temporary self-corrections of the market.  As long as the government doesn’t try to interfere too much, recessions don’t last.  In the last 25 years we’ve only experienced two recessions and each lasted for eight months.


2. Refuse to participate
It may sound trite, but you can simply refuse to participate in a recession.  Remember, in any economy some companies grow and some companies shrink.

Can you grow in a recession?  Yes!  Except for isolated situations like the boomtowns of the California Gold Rush, there’s never a time when ALL companies grow.  There’s also never a time when ALL companies shrink. 

When more companies are growing than shrinking, we call it an expansion.  When more are shrinking than growing for two quarters in a row, it’s a recession. 

The difference between an expanding and declining economy is slight.  An overall growth rate of 3% is considered robust.  A contraction of 2% is felt to be a deep recession.  That’s not a big difference.

Here’s the point.  Economic expansion or contraction, SOME companies are ALWAYS growing.  Why shouldn’t your company be one of them?

Your mindset is important.  Lots of empirical research studies show that people with a positive outlook outperform people who see the glass as half empty.  Positive live longer lives, are healthier, earn more money, and have fewer problems in general. 

If you run around focused on woe, then woe you shall have.  If, on the other hand, you focus on growth and refuse to accept less, you will grow.


3. Put forth an extra 5%
If most contractions are limited to a couple of percentage points, what happens when you put forth more than a couple of percentage points of extra effort?  What happens if you put in more effort to meet people who might become or refer customers?  What happens if you put forth more effort to stay in touch with your customers?  What happens if you increase your marketing to new customers?  What happens if you get up a little earlier and leave the shop a little later?

Can pure brute force effort overcome a declining economy?  Yes!  And the effort doesn’t have to be monumental.  Increase prospecting by 5%.  Write 5% more letters.  Meet 5% more people.  Work 5% longer hours.  Cumulatively, this will have a dramatic effect on your performance.  If you can get everyone in your company to perform similarly, your challenge will soon become finding people to increase your headcount.


4. Be a rainmaker, first
Imagine sitting in a boat on a lake.  The lake water is sales.  Beneath the water are the jagged rocks of overhead.  You can try to avoid the rocks, and thus, avoid sinking.  You can hold your breath, dive into the water, and chisel away at the biggest rocks before they sink you.  Or, you can try to make rain so that lake water rises and you can sail comfortably above the rocks.

Inefficiency and excessive overhead is never good.  However, if you generate sufficient sales, you buy time to attack the problems at your convenience.  It’s easier to raise sales than cut fixed overhead.  And, no one ever saved their way to prosperity.

Now is the time to step up your marketing.  Now is the time to make rain for your company.

Next, Part 2:Tips 5 through 10.


Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2008 Matt Michel

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