This is an exerpt and update from a post I wrote almost 8 years ago! The last time we went through a major business challenge, I wrote this post when it was all done. The lessons are still as relevant as they were then. Here is an updated, 2020, COVID-19 version of the results we will see in 12 months (according to my crystal ball and best predictive skills). Enjoy!
My reflection on the recovery after 2008-2010:
We are very fortunate here at Rose City Label that our business seems to be back on track. We still have challenges, as we always will, but if our business could continue to prosper like it has the past 24 months, we would be very happy. This improved business climate caused me to reflect and remember when, not too long ago, things weren’t very good.
Like many businesses, ours was caught flat footed when the bottom fell out in 2008. We were not prepared for the dramatic slowdown, and we had to take some serious measures to correct things quickly. We said goodbye to an employee that wasn’t performing, and we cut back hours in our production facility. These were difficult, nerve racking times for all of us. One of the things I remember most is that I never appreciated when things were good! I just assumed things would always be good. Now I know this isn’t always the case.
This is what we will be thinking in Q1 2021 – you heard it here first:
1. Celebrate Success! We aren’t setting records or hitting a home run on every single order, but we have much to be thankful for. I am trying to remind all the people in our company, and trying to remind myself, that things are good. We all need to take time to recognize this and give ourselves a small pat on the back for hanging in there. This is true now more than ever! COVID-19 showed us that basic, simple things can be taken at any moment – freedom, health, even life can be snatched from us very quickly. We need to celebrate success on every level. Celebrate!
2. Don’t Take the Future for Granted. Now I know that things can turn sour – in a hurry. I know that we can’t afford to get lazy, complacent, or arrogant. We always need to push forward and keep getting better every day. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Continuous improvement and staying hungry are the only things that will help us stay strong. This is the flip side of #1 above. NEVER assume that things will always be good. Even in this COVID-19 crisis, I considered NOT applying for the PPP loan because we think we will probably, (probalby?) get through the crisis without it. Still, how stupid is that? How arrogant? We aren’t sure if we will get the loan yet, but our application is in.
3. Protect the Downside. If, God forbid, we do have another major dip in the economy or world events, or if we have a serious problem in our own company, we need to protect the downside. As a leader I waited too long to make the hard decisions last time. I assumed all would be good – I didn’t know how long the downturn would last, or how deep it would be. Thankfully, we are a conservative, financially secure company, so we could withstand the storm, but I don’t want to get that close to the edge again. More proactive management would have helped ease the pain, and I am going to keep that in mind for the future. This is the biggest lesson learned – the business must survive. Obviously family, health, and integrity have to be in tact, but shortly after that on the SHORT list is the survival of the business. As this COVID-19 crisis unfolds, we will keep business survival as our guiding light for all decisions.
Summary and Action Steps:
Hopefully these three ideas can help our customers as we move forward. They are all important, but especially now, I am focusing on #1 – Celebrate Success!
These ideas hold up today as well as they did almost exactly 8 years ago. The future is promised to nobody, we have to protect our business, and we have so many blessings to be thankful for. We need to take more time now and in the future to love, laugh, breathe, and be thankful. On that note, we continue to be thankful for all the good customers that have been reading this blog all these years. We will get through this together. Cheers!
Thanks to all of you for being a part of that success for Rose City Label.