Whip the Recession into Submission

Recession smackdownGas prices are rising, real estate is in a slump, and economic naysayers are having a field day.

Do you allow yourself to get sucked into the negativity? Or are you focused on growing sales?

I took a little trip around the Web to see what steps others are recommending to make your business thrive when the economy is struggling:

  • Jim Blasingame, the host for the radio talk show The Small Business Advocate, was interviewed by U.S. News and said, “Spend more time talking to your customers and less time listening to the talking heads on television.” Jim sees opportunity for those who partner with their customers; both to offer services and to ensure that receivables don’t get out of hand.
  • Gary Harpst, founder of Six Disciplines, points out the importance of not assuming you will fail during slow times. In a recent TV interview he says: “Don’t jump to conclusions. Lots of businesses are growing right now.”
  • Then I stumbled upon Scott Ginsberg’s comments on being a “resource.” If we are going to establish a “partnership” with our customer rather than being a vendor, then learning how to position ourselves as a resource has value. Scott offers 5 ways to be perceived as a valuable resource. Great stuff.
  • Sales pro Daniel Sitter at Idea-Sellers writes about Finding Sales Success in a Recession. He suggests retraining yourself — learning something new that creates added value. Become the expert in your market. Or learn about new products you can offer.
  • Columnist Laura Tiffany at Entrepreneur.com offers practical, positive advice. The tagline of her article is inspiring in and of itself: “If the experts agree that we’re in a recession, these tips will have you so far ahead of the game, the news will barely register.” She quotes business coach Ron Finklestein, who suggests asking for referrals: “They know others who could use your products and services, if [you] just ask,” Finklestein says. “[Referral marketing] costs no money and, if the relationship is good, this introduction can lead to some quick sales.”
  • Debbie Mrazek at The Field Guide to Sales offers the Top 7 Ways to Recession Proof Your Business. She suggests checking on lost proposals (there may still be a chance to get the business) and creating package options to beat your competition.
  • Steve Haar at Search Engine Watch offers a lesson in how to demonstrate the value of a service when times get tough and budgets are in danger of getting slashed, in Defending the Need for Searching During a Recession. Many of his tactics can be applied no matter what industry you’re in.
  • Greg Wittstock, editor of Pondeomium, says to turn a threat into an opportunity by performing a SWOT analysis. If you’ve ever completed a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) on your business, you know the value of this honest exercise of holding the mirror up to your business. Greg details how an identified “threat” can provide an opportunity not previously seen.
  • An Associated Press article suggests putting your networking efforts on steroids during slow times. You have to do more than attend networking events. Quoting Julie Zobel Talenfield, a PR professional from Florida: “You have to get very involved in an organization, get on a committee, make a name for yourself.”
  • How about from one of the most famous men in business; he’s been on top, lost it all and is now bigger than ever. What does The Donald have to say about the economy? Sit tight, do nothing with your money, ride it out if you can.
  • When times get tough the one thing that will surely be neglected is … us. Stress can lead to health problems, keeping us from managing our businesses successfully. Mary Emma Allen at HomeBizNews offers 5 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself as a Business Owner.

What are you doing differently to remain successful during recession? Leave a comment with your advice. If you’ve written an article with advice for being successful during a slow economy, let us know.


13 Reactions
  1. Deb Kenyon-Roberts

    Hi Deborah,

    Thanks very much for your post.

    I worry that many will see an actual or expected downturn as a time to cut back on expenditure. But in fact this is shown to be one of the best times to invest in our businesses and their future growth. I admit I’m no expert in marketing (finance has been my career for the last too many years to count), but I’m just starting up my own business now – and what a great time too!

    Strikes me that one thing I absolutely must not do is cut back on marketing, or any real investment in my business, if I want to be successful.

    Hard though, when I’m trying to do everything on a shoestring. One thing I stumbled upon online as I’ve been looking for low costs ways to market, was a neat little idea from the Guerrilla Marketing guys (you know, the low-cost, no-cost marketing methods for small businesses).

    They pose the simple question: “what’s better than free?” and they answer: “getting paid!”. The Guerrilla team implore business-owners to look at ways we can turn our marketing (and other business expenses) into profit-centres. Now that’s an idea I’m picking up and running with, perfect! Recession or no recession.

    All the best,

    PS if you’re interested to learn a little more about that neat idea you can find more here http://tinyurl.com/24xqn8 It’s well worth it, I’d say. Cheers, Deb

  2. I really liked Scott tips on being a resource. Especially his Squidoo idea. I’d heard of Squidoo before but never really checked it out.

    Lots of great stuff here, Anita! I’m gonna be reading this stuff all afternoon!

  3. Deborah Brown,

    Click on my name for a comment on the bearish US economy. I think a SWOT analysis is a good idea to turn the threats into opportunities. What we have to do is to fight for a free economy and we will ride out the storm and better times will come eventually. The problem will be if the government will start to regulate the economy even more and hinder the market players to act freely. The main reason for the downturn is the intervention by state owned agencies, for example the Federal Reserve and the ongoing printing of paper money. It is time to go back to an objective standard, e.g. gold.

  4. Deborah, I’m on the same page with you about whipping the recession. Small business owners need to act aggressively to combat the growing negativity and stimulate sales for themselves. The recession is an opportunity for smart business owners to get more than their fair share while everyone else runs scared and cries home to mommy.

    To help small biz owners around the world, my partner, Travis Miller, and I have created a facebook group called Reject the Recession. Surprised you didn’t mention it here. It’s a place where entrepreneurs can share ideas about what they are doing to REJECT the recession and grow despite the sour talk. We’ve also set up a site at http://www.RejectTheRecession.com to help small biz owners deal with their fears and help them prosper.

    If business owners buy into the fear talk, don’t embrace the opportunities and cut back on growth we’ll be adding to the problem not helping it. There’s lots of free information to help business owners grow during these “tougher” times at the site.

  5. Thanks for the link love!

    Remember, if you position yourself correctly, a bad economy can’t hurt you 😉

  6. Hi Mark (Andertoons), would love to see some recession cartoons!

    Hi Martin, The Fed is tinkering around with stuff it shouldn’t. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to bring back the gold standard, but I do believe that messing with interest rates at this point is either going to be neutral or could even be slightly negative.

    Hi Jimmy Vee, great to have you on the radio show! Thanks for the link — I twittered it around this afternoon.


  7. I’m pleased you found my Home Biz Notes post on taking care of yourself during stressful times of interest for your readers. I also like your focus…instead of emphasizing the negativity, let’s see what is right and discover ways we can be creative and successful during slower economic times. Also, when times are “down” for some businesses, they can be “up” times for others.

  8. I think Martin makes a good point about completing a SWOT and also as the economy is cyclical plan your way through to when the economy rises again.

    From experience, keep a focus on your business goals and the needs and desires of your key customers and do it better than your competitors.

  9. Highlight the areas of your business which are more “recession-proof.”
    For example, my firm primarily handles business-related legal matters. In a brighter economic environment, I focus on business-formation such as drafting LLC operating agreements and service provider contracts. In a shrinking economy, many individuals and companies cannot make payments or perform contactual obligations and so my focus turns to litigation. Ask yourself: Do I offer a product or service which is more necessary or more affordable now than in more prosperous days?
    Hope this is helpful

  10. Martin Lindeskog

    On a lighter note: “Whip It” by Devo. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Xbt30UnzRWw