Recessions: Your Outlook is Everything

July 25, 2022

Telescope looking out at city.

I have been through two significant recessions as a business owner. Neither one went the way I expected them to.    

During the Great Recession of 2007, I thought my business and the industry we served were immune to the downturn. That was true for almost a year, but the bad economy eventually caught up to us and almost knocked us out for good.  

During the Pandemic Lockdown of 2020, I thought we were about to be dealt a fatal blow, but it actually launched our largest expansion and most profitable era to date.   

Point is; in the business world, none of us can be certain of what’s to come. Recessions will happen and parts of the economy will shrink and others will grow. All we can control is how we react. 

In 2008 when business slowed significantly for 18 months, I reacted like it was over for us as a company. It was the wrong response. Instead of connecting with the companies that were reacting positively to the downturn, I felt sorry for myself and essentially waited on the sidelines.  

In reality, many of the companies we served were actually growing and recognized the Great Recession as the time to scoop up the best talent.  People tend to stay in their jobs during downturns out of a need for stability and safety. As such, third-party recruiters seeking out candidates are often the catalyst for career moves during economic turmoil. Companies required us to engage those candidates and we weren’t paying close enough attention to realize how much we were needed.   

Founder and CEO of Evoke Group Reid Connelly was someone who took advantage of the Great Recession. He made some key hires during that time that positioned Evoke to grow significantly during and after the downturn. He told me, “We really didn’t notice the downturn. We actually grew and found some amazing people during that time.”   

You’re better served reacting to changing economic conditions by focusing on your business fundamentals. Showing up every day committed to moving things forward is the key to not only surviving but thriving. You may need to work harder and longer, but keeping a positive outlook, looking for the silver lining, and just plain showing up will make a big difference in how you weather economic storms.   

Depending on how your business is positioned in a downturn, it might even be a great time to expand into new markets, add capability, or go after top talent for critical positions. We have seen talent upgrades across functional areas, adding folks with a new skill set, company acquisitions, and leadership upgrades as strategies during downturns. This focus shifts things from business as usual to being better positioned for the future.  Recessions can be an exciting opportunity to rebuild a company into a better version of itself. It takes a positive outlook, a vision, and a commitment to seeing that vision through to make that happen.  

Whether a recession hits in the next few months or the next 18 months, and whether it will be deep or shallow, rest assured I will show up every day and put the work in. I will stay positive and look for the opportunities presented. My team and I will be on the phone every day making connections and introducing great people to other great people. We will focus and do what we do the same as any other day.  

I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are navigating the financial news these days.


Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

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