Updated July 28, 2015
Getting Your Company Through A Recession Chicago Illinois
Just about thirty years ago, a mother took her son and a couple of her employees out to dinner. There used to be a Sizzler in West Rogers Park, and they were very glad to go there for the $4.95 steak and all you can eat salad bar. It had been a long time since they had been to dinner. Our great nation was in the middle of the ’78 – ’81 depression, and times were tough.
When all four had sat down at the table, the mother brought out a one hundred dollar bill and placed it gingerly on the table before them. You see, my Mom had a performing arts school. We were deep in that depression, and a private ballroom student had come in and paid for their lessons in cash. My mother said that she could tell that we were finally coming out of this horrible economy because she hadn’t seen one of those in years. I said, “Wow. I didn’t know that Franklin was on the front of a c-note.”
Thirty years later here we are in the grips of yet another nightmare that all of the economic geniuses said was impossible. A full banking meltdown. Yet another un-winnable foreign war where the unwilling do the unthinkable for the ungrateful. Yet another batch of politicians saying much, and doing little, if anything at all. Getting your business through these can be impossibly difficult, to say the least. But here are a few thing that I have learned that may be helpful.
You work twice as hard for half as much. Just one of the concepts that you will need to accept. Not every year in business is going to be a good one. Some are simply going to be lousy. No matter what you do, what you try, or how hard you work, its just not always going to be great. Accept this.
Everyone loses something in a depression. Make sure that it is something you can afford to lose. Your marriage, your health, your honor, your relationships with your family and friends… how can you replace these? Yet the inexperienced seem to sacrifice these first. Many of you may have something reposed by a bank or a finance company. Many may lose a business location, some equipment, a car, trusted employees, or your business entirely. Which would you rather lose? Will you stubbornly hold onto that building while becoming an alcoholic in the middle of a divorce? Maintain your marriage. Your health. Your honor. Your relationships. Be an entrepreneur and the master of your fate. Choose your losses. Everyone loses something.
You need to get away from the front lines. The guys that raised me and taught me about honor were the guys that fought in ’Nam and the Big One. Today its called post traumatic stress disorder. It used to be called being shell shocked, and later by the term battle fatigue. You need to get away from the battle. The constant trauma of fighting the war takes its toll. Whether its some beach in the Carribean, or some modest farm in Iowa, you’ll never make decent decisions if you can’t think straight in the first place. Now is when you need to be making the best decisions of your career. Take the time to take care of yourself.
You’re not alone. We’re all in this together. For many of you, these years may be the most difficult of your entire lives. Most will face adversity. Many may face abject failure. Your sales are down. Your collections are worse. The bank wouldn’t lend you a thousand dollars if you put twice that into a CD for collateral. Your product is outmoded. You can’t pay your employees. The phone doesn’t ring. Even if you shut down your business, you couldn’t get a job because no one is hiring. Well, this is just how these things are… get past it and move on. The next time you’re feeling alone and desperate give me a call. We’re all in this thing together.
Hope isn’t a four letter word. Remember what happened after the ’78 – ’81 depression? the eighties. I don’t know about you, but I had a great time. Generally, very good economies follow bad ones. You may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t give up hope on the American economy or the cities where we live. Chicago isn’t turning into Detroit. We may not know when good times are coming, but they will come again.
No matter how bad it gets… it’s okay. Go deal with it.
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Chris Amundson is the President of Accounting Solutions Ltd., a full service public accounting firm of Certified Public Accountants and Enrolled Agents handling the bookkeeping, accounting, tax preparation, and audit representation needs of Businesses, Estates, Trusts, and Upper Income Individuals.