Thoughts on the Recession from a Business Owner…

Let me make a confession, I haven’t watched CNN, Fox, MSNBC, or any other national news station since January. Before the election last year I did watch the news because I wanted to stay informed about the candidates and have as much knowledge about who was running so that I could do my civic (and biblical I might add) duty and in the most informed way that I could possible. In my mind there really wasn’t a good candidate, both of the major party candidates had some things right, but also had some pretty major things wrong, but I voted the best way I could. Anyway, back on track. After the election, I shut off the news because I was sick of hearing about the economy. I turned the TV on for about half an hour while I was working one day in January and shut it off after about 30 minutes because I still didn’t want to be hearing about the economy, the national news networks were feeding the fear.

I heard today that the government is saying that the recession is over…that’s good to know…it will be a long recovery but America will do it.

I don’t know when the official start of the recession was, but I started my business right before the recession hit, so I have weathered the recession. If you want to see my thoughts on the recession and how I wonder if it needed to be as bad as it was, head on over to my personal blog.  In this post, I am going to discuss lessons I learned while weathering the recession.

  1. Never make decisions out of fear. This one seems like common sense, but a lot of Americans made decisions based on fear that they felt and now we are hurting a lot more as a country than if we would have kept level heads and just ridden out the storm.
  2. Trim the fat. I know I just said not to make decisions based on fear, but to keep a level head and this is a continuation on that.  Take a serious look at what you are doing and make sure you aren’t doing anything you don’t need to be doing.  I was in serious money making mode because every dollar counted and that is part of the reason my blogging dwindled for so long.  Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, I found things like a library card where I could have free access to a wealth of great information and inspiration invaluable.
  3. Automate/Batch as much as possible. This is similar to the item above, but just slightly different.  I have a forthcoming book review on The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich one of the ideas that I like in his book is the idea of automation.  While I don’t feel like people should take things to the extremes that he takes them.  Automation is a good thing.  Don’t do things you don’t need to be doing and make things as efficient as possible.
  4. You don’t have to take every job that comes your way. I made this mistake early and took a job with a client that I never should have taken.  There is still an outstanding invoice for $169.00 that I am chalking up to learning experience (I should frame the invoice).  Because I was just starting out my business, I took a job without thoroughly investigating the situation and walked into a complete mess.  Do your research and screen your clients.
  5. Treat your customer like you would treat your grandmother and everything will be great. I don’t know anyone who would treat their grandmother poorly.  Most people would actually go above and beyond for their grandma, you just do that for your grandma.  Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers) wrote a great blog post on this title The Total Customer Experience that really gets at what I am trying to say here.  Check it out.
  6. Stick to your guns, only the strong survive. You went out on your own for a reason.  Stick with it.  Don’t cave in.  If you can weather this recession, you can weather anything.  Keep going.  Sometimes it just sucks and that’s OK, you aren’ t working for today are you?  I know I’m not.  I’m putting in my time now so I can take it easy later.

I learned a lot more than this during the recession, like how I have an amazing wife and family that has stuck with me through some really tough times and for that I am forever grateful.  I also learned that I have some great friends and colleagues who have helped me along the way.  I also have some great customers and I hope we can continue to help each other make our businesses the best they can be.

Now it is time for your thoughts.  What have you learned during this recession?


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