According to reports, we just made it past the fifth anniversary of the Great Recession. The National Bureau of Economic Records states that December 2007 is when the U.S. economy hit its peak and this whole mess began. That month, unemployment crept up to 4.9%, beginning a slow climb that would gather speed in 2008 before reaching its height in late 2009.
Thanks to a handful of loyal, amazing clients and friends, a talented and dedicated team at Iridium — and to some crazy luck along the way — we survived it all.
I suppose that I took pride in that, knowing that we had taken our lumps, made it through not one but two recessions. I deluded myself into thinking that our survival was due to my leadership. It became less a game of growth and more a game of checking to make sure the shutters were tight, piling another sandbag out front if the water became a little higher. In a sense, I forgot the first rule of competition: If you’re not growing or going forward, you’re going backward. There is no middle.
In the fall of 2012, we had another disruption to our business in the way of staff turnover; designers out, programmers getting new jobs, not even giving a notice — only an email to share that they would not be at work. We didn’t panic. After all, my VP of Operations and I have been together 10+ years, and Iridium was headed into its 19th year in 2013.
Today, I can proudly say that we held the line. We delivered on all client initiatives as well, if not better than we ever had before — all while conducting an exhaustive search for a few critical professionals. We’ve rebuilt internally and we stuck to our original goals which were to find the same talent (if not better), and to build a new professional team that had both passion and principles. I have no doubt that we’ve done just that.
Still, getting back to the original observation, I realized that Iridium was only surviving and that has made me question everything. I’ve taken my own share of bruises since 2008. There was a divorce, another breakup, financial concerns like so many of us felt, and an epic recession that rattled my confidence in everything I believed. To this day, I do not believe that the U.S. government — at any level — did anything at all to assist small business. The banks squeezed us from one side, the python-like economy from the other.
The end of 2012 began to change how I feel about business. The whole botched debacle with the fiscal cliff was frustrating. The unspeakable horrors in Newtown and so many other parts of the U.S. and the world opened our eyes. I spent time with my brother who has worked so hard, made difficult decisions along with my mother and managed a dairy farm where I was raised. If this economy has been difficult for small enterprise, there aren’t words to define the trials and tribulations of a small family farm. And yet, he’s working to innovate and adapt, to change his model of doing business to keep operations moving ahead.
After a lot of thought, my own struggles and some pain along the way, I’ve decided that its time to get back to growing and building business again. Just sustaining operations and staying alive isn’t enough. What are we waiting for? Is Congress or the President’s administration going to wave a magical wand and make it all better? Of course they won’t. It’s always been the responsibility of U.S. business to get us out of any mess and its well past time that I took a few new measured risks, started planning for growth again and charged ahead. There’s every opportunity to be smart as well as fearless, to apply every ounce of energy I have during every waking moment, and to build a dozen new win-win scenarios. Because that was always my ideal vision of business — people serving one another.
We’ve made 4 hires since October and I expect at least 1-2 more. I see it as a measured, responsible fight, one I’m experienced in taking on. It will require some reinvention, some new tricks for this 51 year-old dog, but I’m looking forward to it. As the character, Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding said in The Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Ain’t it the truth.
2013 is going to be an exciting year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 1:25 pm and is filed under Advertising, Brand Identity, Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.