Top Ten Ways for Your Business to Deal With a Recession

Global equity markets set all-time upside records yesterday. But US credit market trading was closed. By the time you read this in the morning, you may or may not think you need to worry about a recession.
Hint: you still do.

So here are some ideas. I have readers in large companies and solo consultancies; lawyers and salespeople; private and public sectors. Tweak the ideas to suit your own situation.

And please generously share your own ideas by commenting!

1. Shift some of your marketing budget to sales. You’ve planted the fields; now pay the harvesters to go to work.

2. Hire some key people from competitors in your industry. Increase your strength and get good PR for doing it.

3. Buy capital equipment now (or soon), when it’s off-cycle, suppliers are desperate, lines are short, and customers like you are welcome. When the up-cycle returns, you’re set to cash in, while others pay high prices and wait in lines with the other unfaithful.

4. Set a new metric; be in the slower half to lay off people. Not as wishful thinking, but as a conscious strategy to invest in people, and to be seen as and known for doing so.  Did you believe that stuff about people you said?  Now’s the time to walk the talk.

5. Higher levels of management—take a pay cut. Not just bonuses, either. The higher the level, the deeper the cut. What part of “leadership” didn’t you understand?

6. Tell your shareholders to suck it up. Not all stakeholders benefit equally at all times. This is not their time. Their time will come again, and even better—if they have the foresight to help customers, suppliers and employees when it is they who need the help.

7. Ask your key customers what you can do for them. They know you’re short on cash; offer services, advice, free consulting, and non-cash expenditures.

8. Tell your key customers that you’re extending your receivables terms by 15 days—because you understand how things are.  Do not stiff your suppliers.  And don’t hide these two particular lights under a bushel; tell customers and suppliers personally what you’re doing, and let them thank you.  Personally.

9. Identify a local charity in severe trouble. Make a contribution to them. It will have outsized impact, you’ll make an impression, and others—like board members and the community—will notice it. This one you do hide under the bushel.  Don’t worry, it’ll be noticed. 

10. Talk to your bank about why you’re doing steps 1 – 9. Say you want them to know you’re not just cost-cutting to make it through each month, but intelligently investing in the future through a longer timeframe than your competitors. In other words—you’re the kind of responsible customer they should want to lend to.

There are a few common themes here:

• Don’t fall prey to short-termism
• Do well by doing good
• Meet transactional opportunism with relationship strategies
• Be there for others now, and they will be there for you later
• We remember those who helped us when times were tough
• Now’s the time to prove you’re trustworthy—worthy of trust.