Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs won a nail-biter of a came to clinch the AFC Championship.
Growing up in Kansas I can remember watching Chiefs games with my dad. Those were the Marty Schottenheimer years. Marty was a hell of a coach but he was an even better motivator.
One game in particular has stuck with me for close to 30 years. The chiefs had come back from half-time. Marty had the team in a huddle and he was screaming at them over the roar of the fans at Arrowhead stadium.
He said, “Refuse to be blocked. REFUSE TO BE BLOCKED and they won’t be able to stop you.”
It was the first time in my life that I became aware of the control I had over my own destiny. That it didn’t matter who or what was standing in my way. I could determine the outcome of my life.
It caused a mental shift that has stuck with me all these years. It’s what gave me the confidence to join the Marines at 19. To start my first business at 29. It gave me the courage to write this letter to you today.
Be unstoppable, as Marty would say.
But you can’t show up unprepared with no plan and expect to ‘fight your way through’. Marty didn’t rally the Chiefs each Sunday and then forget about football until the next week. He lived and breathed football. His was well prepared for every team they played and he made sure the team had the tools to win.
As I look at the economic landscape today it’s a forgone conclusion that we’ll start feeling the effects of a recession sometime this year.
Savings accounts are dwindling while consumer credit card debt is climbing. As interest rates rise to a more normal level you’ll see industries that rely heavily on cheap money start having layoffs. You’re already seeing it in the tech industry.
But just because our country goes into recession doesn’t mean you have to participate. You and your company don’t have to suffer. But you do have to prepare. You can’t get caught flat footed.
So here are a few things I’d suggest you start doing to ensure you can show up on game day prepared.
1. Get Lean
In the good years every business has a little extra fat on it. It’s normal for this to happen. But as recession hits those extra expenses can crush you.
Cash is like oxygen to your business. It’s what keeps you alive. If you’re businesses expenses are running too close to its revenue you’re in trouble. So open up the books and start going line by line through the numbers.
Do you have subscriptions you no longer need? Can you cancel or renegotiate some of the contracts you haven’t looked at in a while?
Can you outsource some of the work you’re doing in-house? It’s a lot easier to reduce outsourced labor than it is to cut full-time workers.
Are there ways to increase efficiency so you can produce more with less? Get your creative hat on and conserve your cash. It will pay off in the lean years of a recession.
2. Identify new revenue streams or new ways of offering the same service in a new way.
In 2020 when the world came to a halt, a huge number of restaurants went bankrupt. My brother-in-law owns several very successful restaurants in southern California. But unlike a lot of restauranteurs in SOCAL, he did very well during the lockdowns.
He was able to keep his entire staff working and although it got tight for a while they were able to weather the storm.
So what happened?
As soon as he realized the restaurants would be closed to the public he devised an genius plan. I crafted takeout menus for each day of the week. Ribs on Monday, Gumbo on Tuesday, with a full dinner that would feed 4-6 people.
It was a huge success. My wife and I drove down several times to pick up dinner from his restaurants. He refused to be blocked and it paid off.
What are the different ways of selling your product that will work better during lean times. Maybe it’s breaking your service up into smaller pieces. Maybe it’s creating a subscription service so your best customers get more product each month on autopilot.
Give it some thought I’m sure you’ll come up with two or three ideas.
3. Double down on customer care
When business is booming it’s easy to forget that behind each one of those sales is a person. Someone who’s chosen to exchange their wealth for your service.
One of the best ways to keep money coming in durning a recession is by letting your customers know how much you appreciate them. This could be a card in the mail, a discount for repeat business or special offer for referrals.
By doing these things you’ll give your company a leg up when the inevitable recession hits. In the end it’s still going to be hard. But it’s good that it’s hard. It keeps the cowards away.
If you’ve prepared well then remember, no matter how hard it gets you don’t have to participate in the recession. You can refuse to be blocked.
Oh, and if you’d like a little help getting your company ready for it’s next challenge then I’d love to talk. You can schedule a free 90 minute call with me here.
All the best,