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The Recession in Your Head

The other day my friend Becky told me, “I am choosing not to participate in the recession.” I thought, “What a great idea! Neither am I!” How about you?
There is no doubt that economic news of late is grim. As I write this, I read that 47,000 jobs were lost across America today. Unemployment may rise to 10% in some states. Yikes. Yet, for FireStarter, business is good. I admit I am not sure we will have another record year as we have had the past seven years, but business is solid. I attribute this to two things:

First, we are very good at what we do. We deliver value to our clients. They don’t view us an expense, but rather as an investment. If we were not good at developing leaders, you can be sure we would be fired. We work hard to guarantee superior content and superior delivery. We know our material must be usable and relevant so people will be able to apply it on the job. Theory is nice, but it doesn’t put money on the bottom line. We are focused on results. Our healthy percentage of repeat business is a good indicator, but I wanted to be sure that we were giving our clients what they needed. So, we just surveyed fifty of our most recent customers, and they told us we were. Are you truly delivering value? How do you know?

Second, we recognize the importance of growth. Our clients understand the need to continue to develop for the future and so do we. We are investing thousands of dollars on new certifications, new products, and improved services. I look forward to introducing them to you in the coming months. We will continue with this newsletter. It would be easy to eliminate this as an expense--but we are choosing not to participate in the recession!

Our clients are keeping an eye on the future, too. The Vice President of one of the largest construction companies in America told me, “In the last downturn, we turned off all training. We did only what we were required to do. We didn’t invest in growing people. When the economy recovered, we got busy, and when we opened the spigot on our leadership pipeline, it was empty. We weren’t ready and it cost us money. We will not make that mistake this time.” He is not alone in this line of thinking. I hear the same concept voiced by our clients who are looking to thrive in the recovery. They recognize that they must continue to invest in their people, and they are doing it.

This isn’t to say they are spending like they have a money tree growing in the back office. They are prudently cutting costs and tightening the belt. So is FireStarter. They are also proactively investing in their future. And we are helping them.

In times like these, you must be fiscally responsible. You must conserve resources. But you don’t have to hoard your cash in the mattress or bury it in the backyard--to do that would be to participate in the recession. Be like Becky, and refuse to participate. Make prudent business decisions, but don’t retreat into a survival mode. I can assure you that not all of your competitors are in a survival mode. Quite a few are in the looking-to-thrive mode, and they are investing in their people. After all, what good is it to survive today, only to be beaten by your competitors tomorrow? ‘Far better to thrive today and defeat the competition tomorrow.

"I have received so many very positive comments about your workshop. Most importantly, the evaluations and the one-on-one feedback indicate that the participants picked up information and tips that they plan to apply both in their business and in their chapters."

E. Colette Nelson, Executive Vice President, American Subcontractors Association