Today the Dow closed below 7,000 for the first time since 1997 as the recession really starts to bite. The impact on our industry over the last six months has been huge. Many good firms have already had staff reductions up to 20%. That’s 12 months of growth under normal conditions, but I’d warrant they also went from under-staffed to over-resourced, prior to the reduction so we’re looking at strong revenue downturn.
It’s painful on those who are cut (I even had one staffer leave my firm to a competitor only to get whacked a few weeks later), and it’s hard on those who remain. No doubt many will leave the industry as they did in the tech bust, and try to return later. They’ll miss out on vital experience – a recession is a period of rapid learning, and personal growth. If you’re only here when the sun shines, you have no idea what you are capable on. The fires of a recession forge stronger management, more innovation, and more discipline. You can’t have heroes without a villain.
So how do you beat a recession? Ha – wouldn’t it be nice if there was one silver bullet? A magic mojo or technical thingamy which every client wants and works for every company? But there isn’t. A recession is beaten by a thousand incremental improvements. Sure some will be step changes, but most will be behind the scenes, late-at-night tweaks and extra hours quietly put in to move the business forward. And personally, there’s not one single thing you should do to make sure you are a survivor. It’ll take hundreds of improvements – mentally, technically, physically, spiritually and emotionally to pull through.
And, so that’s what I’ll be talking about here over the next few weeks. I’ve been deliberately quiet on this blog of late. But I do have some lessons to share about fighting a recession which might help – and no doubt the market will continue to teach me a few more along the way, so we’ll discover them together.
Meantime, keep the faith and good luck. Recessions bring hardship, but they also bring opportunity.