Our lovely Great Recession has been a boon for my executive sales outsourcing firm Corporate Rain International. Yup. Despite alarming small business trends I’ve discussed lately, Corporate Rain has become a tighter, stronger, more profitable, more effective organization. So, in many ways, I personally feel gratitude for the current economic malaise.
Fear is a useful tool for change. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has famously said a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. That’s true. So here’s how we’ve used the last two anni horribiles at Corporate Rain to become a better company with a steadily improving top and bottom line.
First of all, we’ve brought on an experienced COO with new responsibilities for streamlining and efficiencies, with broad authority to institute change. As founder of my firm I’ve had to let go responsibilities I’m not gifted at, an act made easier through urgency. We have cut inefficient personnel and process. Staff responsibilities have been reviewed and realigned. Our line-up of executives and associates have never been stronger or more effective. Every expenditure is analyzed, no matter how minor. (My COO insisted I justify a $10 light bulb purchase last week. Annoying, but probably all to the good.)
Second, we have discovered at least two serious new revenue streams, which we had simply not bothered to pursue pre-recession. These new verticals are recession proof and make our long-term financial planning easier.
Third, when we have had extra staffing band-width, we have used our resources and experience on a pro bono basis to support a variety of charities including Texas Voice Project For Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Association, By The Hand Club For Kids, and the Wilkinson Center, helping these institutions with free ongoing business development, research, and planning. We also sit on the boards of some of these organizations. On an individual basis I am deeply proud that most of our employees do active volunteer work individually, as well.
In addition to writing my alarmist concern about the current state of small business, I and Corporate Rain’s President David Downey have had personal meetings with elected officials in three different states and Washington D.C. to discuss both charitable issues and current small business problems. We have corporately committed to active participation with the boards of three different non-profits.
I do have a mystical instinct that karmic reward does follow energy given back to the universe. Without sounding too granola hippyish, bad times offer an even greater opportunity for an open spirit of entrepreneurial generosity. This recession presents a particularly useful chance to walk the walk of principles and ideals. And it’s really ultimately a selfish thing as it ennobles the tone of your company and engenders pride and happiness in employees. If nothing else, a tone of service and helpfulness osmoses into all your everyday interactions. It spawns trust and collegiality in potential clients.
So, while I cannot deny alarm and even morbidity in my concern about the current macro small business climate, there are so many daily positives that can come out of economic gloom. At least that has been the case for us.
Though we live in a fraught and difficult entrepreneurial atmosphere, there is really no bad time for doing good business.
General Douglas MacArthur said, “There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.” Thank you, Douglas.