"For many, it was as if the clocks had rolled back to the thirties and the time of the Great Depression. Company upon company declared bankruptcy. Unemployment soared. Politicians used the depressed state of the country to their advantage. It provided a great opportunity to highlight the failures, shortcomings, and faults of the opposite political party. Democrats found in it an opportunity to blame the Republican administration which was in charge. Predictably, the Republicans, in turn, blamed the "Democratic administration that created the problem", which the Republicans had inherited."
Sound familiar? That is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Schuller's book "Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do", written 25 years ago. The book is an inspirational guide to dealing with tough times.
We are all dealing with some tough times now. The expression "Tough times never last, but tough people do" brought back memories of earlier tough times and how we found ways to make it through. Since 1980 there have been at least four major recessions...and recoveries.
In several recent speeches I have reminded the audience that the stock market, and all markets, are driven by two things; fear and greed. Fear drives the market down, and greed drives the market up. When fear takes over, as it has now, the effects are devastating. But, remember one thing, fear is temporary, greed is permanent. Greed always overtakes fear.
Startups are particularly vulnerable in tough times since they don't have piles of cash and big lines of credit. However, startups have the advantage of being small and nimble. Startups can make changes quickly, find new ways to save customers money, and fill needs faster than big companies.
Things will get better eventually, the key is to do whatever is necessary to stay in business long enough to weather the storm. That means finding new ways to save money for your customers.
Be very clear about your "value proposition" and provide real examples of how your product/service can save money. Offer bundled packages of products at reduced prices that deliver real ROI. Let your customers know you are a good partner and will work with them to create value.
On the expense side get aggressive. Think about what you would do if your sales dropped by 50%. Where would you cut? Be prepared...it could happen. Entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature. It is in our DNA. But, you need to anticipate problems and be ready to take action.
Chaos brings opportunity. A recession makes companies think about saving money. They consider small vendors that they wouldn't do business with in boom times. Competitors go out of business. Be in a position to take advantage of chaos and uncertainty.
And remember the words of Robert Schuller, Tough times never last, but tough people do.