Back when I was in the Ski Business, I went through what had been called Black Monday. October 19, 1987. The stock market went down very significantly and there was panic and worry for weeks as the market continued to nose dive. Everybody was downsizing and cutting back on their expenses, especially advertising. They were all recoiling.
No Small businesses at all were advertising, including my competitors in the ski business. I decided that there were still people with money. I decided that there were consumers that still wanted to buy. I decided that the only life preserver for the business was more customers and more sales. I reduced expenses but not advertising. This was a defining moment for me. I negotiated lower prices with advertisers and I kept advertising at a high level. My sales were still off, but only 5% while my competitors and many others who pulled back their advertising were of 30-40%. Today in the midst of this new economic turmoil I still have the same attitude. On Monday March 16th, the day the stock market went down almost 3000 points and the Corona Virus was the only thing on people’s minds I sent out a mailing to prospects in the trades. I am also preparing to launch my internet strategy in a few weeks and spend more money on advertising than I ever have at Next Step CFO. You see, I learned that when your business is in a state of emergency you promote despite all the negative emotions you may feel. Now, I know some of you had to temporarily close your business, and believe me, my heart aches over that. But you need to take this opportunity to plan your comeback. Catch up on projects that you didn’t have a chance to get to that will improve your product, your process and efficiency. Provide some additional training to coachable employees with potential, and most importantly, stay engaged with your customers and clients.
60 million people work in small businesses. Businesses like ours. You know, we business owners have an opportunity. An opportunity to shine. Great heroes and great heroines, great leaders and great profits will be made during this time. We can either recoil and stop promoting like my competitors did in 1987 or despite how difficult it is, advertise and engage and add even more value to the customers we serve. How do we serve at a higher level? One of my clients in the screen printing and embroidery business had a big sale every year at the St. Patrick’s day parade. So what did he do? He heavily promoted a green t-shirt with the words “2020 St Patrick’s Day Parade Dorchester Mass” over which were large red letters saying “Cancelled”. He sold a ton of them.
We small business owners have a responsibility. As entrepreneurs people are depending on us to pave the way. They are depending on us to give them faith and hope in this time of great adversity. And it doesn’t matter what position your business is in. My question to you and me is this. Are we going to recoil, or are we going to take advantage of an opportunity to lead, an opportunity to provide hope, an opportunity to find and create more value for our customers, an opportunity to be an inspiration to our children and to the people we serve? I know entrepreneurs, and I believe you will provide faith and hope, I believe you will create more value for your customers than they could ever dream possible, and most importantly as a result of this manifestation of strength you’ll become more of an inspiration to your children than they could dream possible. This is a defining moment. BE WELL. BE SAFE. BE HEALTHY.