2 Business Strategies During a Recession That Make All the Difference

November 23, 2022

When recession looms, waiting it out paralysed with fear lists high on the things you shouldn’t do. Instead, there are 2 business strategies during a recession that not only will get you to the other end in one piece, but are a brilliant investment into the future of your business.


A looming recession
A likely recession
A definite recession
A recognised recession
A maybe recession
A predicted recession

Shall I go on?

I guess you get the point: rumours are we’re headed for a recession. Heck, we may well be in the middle of one. Nothing much we can do about it, is there? I mean, as agency owners, we’re small fish. We can’t undo a recession.

And while that might be true, my question to you is: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO MAKE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS RECESSION PROOF?

Are you going to sit there doing nothing, waiting for the tide to turn, all the while hoping your business is still there when we get to the other end?

OR …are you going to look at this as a challenge AND an opportunity in equal amounts? Put up a good fight and adjust your business strategies during a recession?

I know, I know…

Many of us small business owners and agency owners are still catching our breath after a 2 year pandemic. I haven’t been living under a rock. It’s no surprise this whole recession prediction makes us nervous.

My Business Strategies During A Recession

This may come as a surprise, but me… I’m keeping my cool. I won’t claim I like it. But I’m keeping my cool!

See, as a seasoned business owner, 21 years in, I’ve seen recessions come and go. I’ve seen businesses brace themselves for the fall-out of SARS, … which turned into a fizzle. Then, in an ironic curveball, COVID found us and had us good.

So… how to prepare your small business for a recession on the back of a nasty pandemic?

You guessed it. Unlike some other opinion out there, I am of the idea that doing nothing must be scoring top marks on the list of what not to do during a recession. That said, your action, of course, can’t be random.

So in this episode I’m sharing my plan, my strategy. I hope it helps you find direction or inspiration to see a way through too.

Still standing, head held high. Stronger than ever.

Putting Things In Perspective

Maybe I should start with giving you something to think about that puts things in perspective.

Unlike a pandemic that saw the world grind to a total halt (My events management agency went to zero business overnight!), the recession impact on a small business looks different.
During a global recession, the world (and its economy) still operates, albeit at a slower pace.

For my agency, that means businesses will still organise events, BUT their budget will be more modest, ticket sales will dip, and the biggest impact is on sponsorship.
Interestingly, even the businesses that are faring well during a recession (and it’s important to remember that some business do great during a recession!), they don’t want to be seen spending money.

Those are the realities we have to work with.

Circumstances are not quite the same as they were during the pandemic, so what worked then may not work now. But then again, it also could…

What it means is that you can’t copy-paste. Rather, you need to look at your business and the clients you serve. Think about how a recession will affect them. Will they need to get by with less money? Or are you serving the type of businesses who don’t want to be seen spending money?

Then… take it a step further.

How To Build Resilience In Business

A recession (or a looming recession) is the time when you want to double down on your business.

While there are undeniable differences with a pandemic, there are also similarities. What both have in common is that you don’t want to wait for your clients to come to you. Rather, you need to think about how building resilience in your business and your belief in your services can steer your business through a recession.

What I mean by that is that if you have the resilience to innovate, to try new things, and keep bouncing back, your chances of being ok are good.

Here's An Example Of What I Did

When the pandemic hit, I took a two-pronged approach in order to build resilience in business:

  • The first thing I did was look for my clients' pain points. During the pandemic, that meant people weren’t able to gather in person. The clear answer was virtual events. So, I learned everything there was to learn about virtual events and I went on a mission to deliver an outstanding experience that made people forget their frustration with ZOOM calls. I became an authority in virtual events. 
  • The second thing I did was, I raised my profile. I wanted to be visible, because the media was talking about how hospitality and tourism were suffering, but nobody offered a peep about how much the world of events was bleeding. I wanted that message to go out. But at the same time, it was my opportunity to be seen as an expert in my field. I went on every virtual event in our industry association. Not only that, I made sure they heard me. Parallel to that, I started a Facebook LIVE show chatting with industry partners. It spread far and wide.

Did I know this approach would work? No, not really. I thought it might, but I wasn’t certain. But doing nothing and feeling sorry for myself while watching my business go under would not help me either. So I figured I had nothing to lose.

So what does that mean for you and recession impact on a small business in general?

How To Thrive During A Recession?

Rather than get paralysed with fear, my advice to you is …

  • Become known as an industry leader. While business is quiet, use this time to put yourself out there. Raise your profile in whatever way suits your business and your talents. It’s a long-term investment that is well worth the effort and it will pay off well beyond the (looming) recession. 
  • Double back on your business. Take a close look at your clients. Make sure you understand them. (If you have been in business for a while, this shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, you have some serious work to do in this department.) Check in with them and confirm what you think their current pain-points are and what you can do to alleviate those. This may mean a new product or service. (YES, it’s a good idea as long as it’s ticking off the above requirements). Then run with it!

So, put on your big-girl boots, build resilience in business, flex your muscle. Find the confidence to know that what you offer to your clients is going to help them now. And if you do it well, you’re going to reap the rewards not only now, but later down the line as well.

My message to you is: You are not powerless. Believe in yourself. You’ve got this!

Need Help?

But what if you do not know how to translate those 2 business strategies during a recession to your business? What if they don’t really make sense to you? Or you have no clue what your clients might need?

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