I’ll share with you this little story about the power of having the right attitude and business.
Let me set the stage while the stock market is on a record setting tear, housing prices are at an all time high, and the economy “seems” to be turning around, claims for unemployment benefits are (artificially low) there has been a lot of talk in the media about our recession potentially turning into a full-blown depression circa 1932.
Clearly we are in a recession. People are spending less, and you even see fewer cars on the street because people are not driving as much in order to conserve gas and money.
Businesses are folding left and right and the unemployment rate by some estimates is expected to exceed 2 million in 2014.
Scary stuff to be sure. But how does that affect us as online merchants? Many of us have already seen a decline in sales and traffic. So what we do?
Well let me tell you a story about a friend of mine who said something to me that I found to be extremely profound.
As a matter of fact it completely re-framed my personal outlook on what’s happening in our economy and in many ways our businesses.
I went to school with a guy who at the time I didn’t particularly care for (he stole my girlfriend) but that was 25 years ago and today were actually pretty good friends. Today he owns a very successful deli/bakery restaurant.
And it seems like no matter when I go into his store – which is practically every day – the place is always packed. Always. And over the last few days I’ve been observing the ebb and flow of his customer base.
It is interesting to note that if anything he’s busier than usual.
Now Patrick is a very good businessman and a very good local marketer. He’s built his brand, established a rapport with his customers which ensure that they return time and time again, and he writes very good ads which he uses in his direct-mail campaigns to the three counties surrounding his restaurant.
But still, we’re in a recession people and don’t have as much spendable income because it had to take pay cuts or have been laid off whether business closed.
So this morning I pulled Patrick a side and I said: “Dude, what’s going on here where in the middle of a recession, the economy’s terrible and yet you restaurant is packed all the damn time! What’s up with that?”
Pat responded to my question with one of the most profound replies I could have ever expected.
He said and I quote, “I’ve decided not to participate in the recession.”
Let me tell you, that statement really set me back on my heels because I immediately realized that he wasn’t just being flippant. He was dead serious and it took me a minute to grasp the implications of a statement.
Basically what he was saying was that his mindset was such that because he was customer focused, had built loyalty in his customer base and sold a really good products that even if his customers were hurting financially that he was not going to be affected by the downturn in the economy.
Now while it’s true that at some point his gross sales are going to dip a bit, but I’d be willing to bet that it is substantially less than many of his competitors.
The lesson here is that we can make knowledge that the economy isn’t in very good shape right now and there’s going to be a period where our businesses will or may slow down.
But it doesn’t mean the end of our business in fact it could possibly be the thing that gets many of us to actually work on the core competencies of our business – customer loyalty and retention, great service and high value for our customers.
So while the downturn in the economy is very real and we are officially in a recession, like my friend Patrick, I’ve decided not to participate.