Years ago, and I mean like forever ago back when George W. Bush was running for office against Al Gore my husband and I would debate politics. He would want to discuss it, he wanted to get my take - he tried to get me to argue with him. I would usually fall into his trap and end up frustrated and would never agree with his theories.
One day I got smart and I told him I refused to discuss politics with him since he did not vote. If he was not willing to participate in this thing us Americans had called an election then he could not complain. He had the gift, he had the privilege of voting - yet he chose to not vote. For once, I shut him up and then I shared my story with friends and family. It was like a movie, from then on it was like a tidal wave, no one would discuss politics with him till he registered to vote. He either saw our way or was just tired of no one talking to him so he registered. Now, I will happily discuss politics, well not happily as we still disagree on some things.....but lucky for me he tends to sway my way on more issues than before. And, I must admit, now that I am a business owners some of my views have changed drastically.
So, when my Dad said to me at MY birthday dinner; "You know honey, next time tell them you don't want to participate in the Recession."
I sort of felt like history repeating itself. I mean sort of. My eyes rolled far back in my head too and I wanted to tell him to stick it....but he's my Dad and all. How I ask was I to refuse to participate? Was I to raise prices, ignore my plummeting sales, NOT lay off employees when business was slow? Hmmmm........that would not have been a good idea. Was I to not watch my bottom dollar? Spend needlessly on materials and supplies running up charge cards and take out more loans to grow the business? Again - that would be not participating?
How Do I Feel about Participating in the Recession?
I was irritated because I have had that very thing said to me one too many times, I have heard it on the radio from some left (or right) wing zealot that was screaming about it. I even heard it in some advertisement about buying an ad for your business in the yellow pages......the yellow pages? Who even uses a phone book anymore? Anyone? But, what really sent me over the edge was at my birthday dinner with my family and we were discussing the hard year we had and my father (who works with me) said the now infamous quote.....
A few days later I posted it on Facebook, for my some 500 or friends to let them know how I felt about this ignorant statement;
"The dumbest thing ever said to me about my business this year was 'Next time tell them you don't want to participate in the Recession"
Some friends got irritated, some friends agreed, everyone had a different take on the stupid.......er infamous quote that has been the rally cry for some people. My response was um, ya well I chose to participate....or better yet I had no choice but to participate. I chose to do things to make sure I SURVIVED the Recession.....that is what I did.
So to my Dad, I say yes, YES to the Recession, and YES I will participate and here is how I have participated:
No Money No Buying
We did not order supplies till we had the money to do so. We did not use credit, we did not get loans....even though banks were calling weekly offering me money. We waited till the last possible moment to order supplies, or we went without if we could. The word inventory took on a whole new meaning this year as we learned how to stretch a dollar, stretch our supplies and make sure we had enough in the bank to pay rent. When everyone pays late it puts us in a very bad place - the word cash strapped was what we were. If I were not participating in the Recession, I would have ignored our bleak sales and our small bank account and just spent, spent, spent.
Pay for Stuff Before We Ship It
As I mentioned earlier we gave no account terms either. We had everyone billed ahead and pay ahead. If you ain't gonna pay for it, then you ain't' gonna get it. This was not easy to do and it was not very popular with many of our accounts. However, we have rent, employees - we (me) can not afford to carry anyone this year. The saying "The check is in the mail" got real old for me.....real old. People tend to send a check when you hold their orders though. Again, had I chose not to participate in the Recession I would be bankrupt right now and in serious debt waiting for everyone to pay me.
Raising Prices Are a Must
Ya - this one......you know the whole raise your prices and make your product seem more exclusive, more superior, more better. This may work in some case and in some industries - but for me? And in retail? And in the middle of a Recession? Nope, not gonna do it. We did not raise our prices in 2009, we did not raise our shipping costs either. I wish we could have, but we chose not to. We were being very safe. And.....had I not participated, blah, blah, blah....Recession....I would probably not have many sales.
Focus on What is Selling
Our birth certificates kept us going, kept us alive, they kept our sanity. Without our birth certificate sales I have no idea how we would have kept our business afloat this past year. We had weeks with 4 name tiles, 10 name plaques and then 30 birth certificates. We shipped them faster, we came up with new designs. We figured even in a Recession people will have babies, and at $35 or $40 for a baby gift, we were still pretty reasonable. Had I not watched our sales I would have released my Dinner Dishes in January, I would have focused on Name Tiles and I may have ignored the one line that continued to grow despite the way the Economy was tanking.
So if you are like me and you are still in business, you are still employed or you are still living in your house - you participated in the Recession. Whether we wanted to or not we were a willing participant....a survivor if you will. Anyone have any suggestions or how they have participated in the Recession....please do share. I am all ears.