Inspiring Women in Business Podcast - Episode 33 - How to survive and thrive in a recession

podcast Oct 11, 2022

I have lived through quite a few recessions, economic downturns, and pandemics (still can’t believe I can now add pandemic to the list). As difficult as recessions are, experiencing them and learning from them has helped me make better business decisions and stay the course when I feel like giving up.

Economic downturns, recessions and pandemics have shaped the business I have today. A business with multiple income streams that do not all rely on trading time for money.

In this podcast episode, I share what keeps me going and what practical things you can do to survive and even thrive during a recession, because emails and podcasts like this have helped me and I want to help you right now.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • The inaction we take doesn't create any action.
  • There's always something positive out of a difficult time and we don't know what we don't know.
  • Recessions are inevitable. They are part of our economic cycle but we will get through them.
  • Recessions are awful but also offer important economic benefits.
  • It's a human need to contribute. It's a balancing act of supporting others whilst looking after your own needs as well.
  • Feeling guilty about making money in your business does not help anyone.
  • The more you earn, the more you can contribute and help others.
  • Panic is very human and normal, but equally, by understanding it, normalizing it, and becoming self-aware, we can adapt and build resilience.
  • Make decisions when you are in a logical state of mind, not emotional.
  • Reduce your news consumption. Stay informed but don't overconsume.
  • Get advice from reputable sources.
  • Gather data and information. It is important to review and understand your finances, results, and data.
  • This is not a time to bury your head in the sand; This is a time to be informed.

Practical steps you can implement to protect your business:

  1. Reassess your monthly budget and assess what your business needs to still run and still grow.
  2. Maintain your marketing efforts
  3. Upgrade, update, and reevaluate who you do your business with, who your client is, and what your niche is.
  4. Research recession-proof businesses.
  5. Be smarter with what you invest in.
  6. Re-evaluate and revamp your offers and services.
  7. Upgrade and get your support. You aren't supposed to do everything alone as a business.
  8. Protect your business. 


Episode Timeline:

00:04 Podcast Intro

01:05 Episode Intro

02:14 Some quotes that will help reframe what’s going on at the moment

04:08 The 2008 credit crunch experience for Ruth

07:10 Recessions as inevitable parts of our economic cycle

10:21 The balancing act of supporting others while looking after your own needs

12:34 Our behavior during a recession and how we can do better

13:41 Making decisions in a logical state of mind

19:52 Practical steps you can implement to protect your business

20:29 Reassessing your monthly budget

20:40 Maintain your marketing efforts

21:34 Upgrading, updating, and reevaluating who you do your business with

22:59 Researching recession-proof businesses.

23:58 Being smarter with what you invest in.

24:53 Re-evaluating your offers and services.

25:39 Getting your support

26:09 Protecting your business. 

27:09 Recap of the practical steps you can implement to protect your business at any point

28:55 Outro


Protect your business:

  • Get insurance. There are many different types of insurance out there, depending on what kind of business you have or whether you are a limited company or freelancer. Ask around for recommendations depending on your sector and industry.  I have insurance with Dinghy if you sign up to Dinghy using this link we both get a £15 amazon voucher.
  • Have up-to-date contracts. There are many different types of legal support and contracts out there, depending on what kind of business you have or whether you are a limited company or freelancer. Ask around for recommendations depending on your sector and industry. I use Koffeeklatch contracts. Koffeeklatch helps micro-businesses thrive and become more profitable. Koffeeklatch contracts and courses can be found here (I'm an affiliate because I think what Annabel and Koffeeklatch do is fab and as you know I'm only an affiliate for things I love and use myself).




Hello and welcome to the inspiring women in business podcast. My name is Ruth Gilbey and I'm a business and marketing coach. I'm on a mission to inspire women to start and play bigger in business. Now I started this podcast because when I first went all in and left the corporate world to be a freelancer, I was just grateful for any work that came my way. After over 20 years of freelancing and working for other people, I started to realize I'd created a glass ceiling for myself. It was in 2017 when I finally started listening to that voice that had been telling me for a long time, that I wasn't doing what I loved, and I wasn't fulfilling my true potential. It took a critical illness to give me that wake-up call. And I don't want the same thing to happen to you. You can expect practical advice, interviews, inspiring stories, and a lot of aha moments as we uncover and kick to the curb. All the obstacles you've been putting in your way.


Hello there. Welcome back to the inspiring women in business podcasts. My name is Ruth Gilbey. And in today's episode, I'm going to be chatting to you about how to survive and thrive in a recession. Before I dig into this episode, I just have to say, Do you ever have those days where tech is not on your side? This is the third time that I have recorded this podcast the first time, there was no audio. The second time the audio was fine, but the recording kind of stopped and bombed out. So for those, I just wanted to share really quickly. I mean, this might be an episode that I developed another day, but two things, check your microphone, check your speaker, and apparently according to zoom Help Desk record to the cloud rather than locally, though, that only works if you have a lot of Cloud Storage. So I am recording to the cloud.


Anyway, let's dig back into today's episode, which is all about how to protect your business and survive and thrive in a recession. Now, before we get going, there are just a couple of quotes that I found that I just wanted to read out to you, really to just help you reframe what's going on at the moment. So the first one's by Richie Norton, please start a business during this depressive recession, your opportunity only goes up from here, opportunities come and go. But if you do nothing about them, so do you. That's a great one, isn't it really getting you to think about, you know, the inaction we take doesn't create any action, we do nothing if we don't take action, and we don't take the opportunities around us, no matter what the economic climate. The next one is by Dr. Prem, Jagyasi, and that is, today's crises are tomorrow's stories. And it's your story. Decide what Acts you wish to portray.


So I guess it's just framing really that, how we can reframe and be more resilient, and, you know, work on mindset things around recession. So I have lived through quite a few recessions, economic downturns, and pandemics. And actually, I still can't quite believe that I can add that to the list that I've actually lived through a pandemic. And when I say, you know, you've I've lived through them, and I've gone through them. I mean, I've experienced from them, I've learned from them. And it's helped me really just keep going and learn from them and stay positive, stay motivated. And think practically, I mean, it's not possible to think positive all the time, that just isn't possible, but with information with learnings that really helps you, you know, put those practical things in place, be more resilient and do things to survive and even thrive during a recession.


So I'm 48 years old. So I've been through a few. The one that really sticks in my mind was the 2008 credit crunch. That was huge, not only because of what was going on, I mean, I remember watching it on the TV, and the panic that was going on, and thinking are we ever going to come out of it? And we did. We recovered, the economy recovered, but during that time, I had gone freelance, and I was making really massive changes in my life. I was getting married, I was buying a house. I was selling my flat.


Then the subsequent years after that, because obviously, it takes time for the economy to recover. I was going through IVF we weren't a two-income family. And then I had twins, you know, and there was a there was four years where I was looking after my boys. And I remember how terrified I felt, I remember how much that economic downturn and the credit crunch really affected me really affected my money mindset, how kind of I was living really in a place of scarcity and lack and worry. And I just think, you know, I've got more information. Now I've gone through things, I've come out the other side of things that I feel more resilient to go through these things, but I just, it really did affect my money mindset. And it did really shape the business that I have today. And yeah, the business I have today, the action that I've taken in my business, the business that I've actually developed, so it's not relying on just one income stream, all that has come out was that kind of good things that have come out of that horrible time that I wouldn't really want to relive, but those experiences really helped me build the business that I have today. So there's always something positive out of a really difficult time, that was incredibly stressful at the time. And the thing is, we don't know what we don't know, if you've never been through something like that before, or you haven't been through it, when you've been a freelancer or had your own business, then that's scary as well because that's a different kind of experience. So I really just want to share some practical advice that I have learned that has helped me with my business. And that can help you with yours.


And what I'm sharing today isn't just relevant, if there's a recession or an economic downtime, it's also relevant if you're going through a difficult period personally, or in your life as well, or there's something going on that's affecting your business, you know, life throws things at us all the time. So hopefully, this is something that you can go back to another time when you're feeling you know, worried, overwhelmed, scared, or anxious about your own business. Anyway, back to today's topic a little bit more back to recessions. And really what's helped me is normalizing recessions, as much as possible that they are inevitable, they are part of our economic, the economic cycle, as tough as it can be to experience recessions.


Recessions also offer important economic benefits, recessions, they feel awful, like I've just described as business owners as businesses, you know, struggle to stay afloat, maybe businesses go under is awful, you know, people lose their jobs, redundancies salaries, I mean, I'm just painting a really horrible picture here. But um, you know, let's be realistic here. I'm not saying it's not a walk in the park, when we're going through them, you know, homes and stocks lose value. The government is borrowing money, interest rates rise, etcetera, to try and stabilize the economy. But despite all that going on, we do really need to recognize, unfortunately, the way that the economy is designed recessions are part of the economic cycle, we actually need them to stabilize things. Apparently, we're overdue. So this is why when a recession happens, it will also bring some positives that ended up benefiting society, the economy, and individuals as well. I'm not an economist, but understanding that kind of basic thing that recessions are, in essence, inevitable, and unfortunately necessary, and that they're part of an economic cycle has really helped me understand that we've gone through this and we will get through it again. Whenever I talk to my accountant or my financial advisor, that's how they start the conversation with me, particularly my financial adviser, we've been through this before we will get through it the get through the other side. And actually, I need to hear things like that.


So I am saying that to you now that recessions are inevitable and necessary because they are part of the economic cycle and we will get through them but I'm so I'm going to share some more mindset tips in a minute. And then I'm going to share some practical tips because that's the way I am I like to kind of do a bit of mindset and psychology of like how because that's so important for running your business, you know, your psychology, then your mental well being. Mindset just underpins what you do in your business. But also, then there's a very practical side to me that I'll share some practical tips with you as well.


But before I do that, I just want to get really real and honest with you. People talk about and you hear this quite a lot that there are winners and losers during a recession during a pandemic an economic downturn. And you're going to hear people saying things about, you know, how people become millionaires during difficult times. And some gurus actually talk about it, position it when they're actually selling a product or selling something as well, which I have a real issue with because I've got an issue with that message. And I think many of you who are listening have got an issue with that message as well. too. Many of you said you're just not motivated thinking that some might benefit and some might be thrown into fuel or food poverty. So people saying things like you're going to become a millionaire during this and it's going to be winners and losers just does not motivate me, it does quite the opposite. But it is complex. There are so many layers to it. But I believe to stay motivated as a business owner during an economic downturn, that you need to understand that it's a human need to contribute. And it's a balancing act of contributing and supporting others, whilst looking after your own needs as well.


And as women, we often put ourselves at the bottom of the pile and we feel guilty, like our money mindset and how we, you know, the way we think about earning money, selling and promoting. It's just another thing that hinders that, but feeling guilty about making money in your business does not help anyone. Let me repeat that again. Feeling guilty about making money in your business does not help anyone. Not continuing to run or promote your business out of guilt won't help you pay the bills, won't help your family, and won't pay your contractors and staff. If anything, it's the reverse. The more you earn, the more you can contribute and help others. So if you are like me, I am a highly sensitive person, I am a nurturer. I am a carer I think about other people. And that, you know, that has in the past affected my own money mindset. hindering yourself from running and promoting your business, stopping yourself from growing your business. And you might not even realize you're doing this. But if you're doing it out of guilt, if you are stopping yourself from taking action. This will not help you pay the bills, it will not help you help your family, and it won't help you pay contractors and staff. If anything it's going to do the reverse. The more money you earn, the more you can contribute and help others, the more you can pay contractors, the more you can give other people work, and the more you can continue to have an impact on the people that you help and serve. So just wanted to get that in there, then this is when our money mindset can be challenged. So there's a podcast episode on money mindset. And I linked to books around it. And I talk about it all the time. It's something as female business owners that we need to be working on all the time because we don't realize it's not a separate thing. Money mindset is not a separate thing. It affects everything in our businesses. Right.


The next thing I want to talk about is behavior. Again, sort of following on I want to talk about behavior and reactions people have when there's an economic downturn, it's really human and normal to have reactions to panic react and make decisions from stress, and overwhelm. Panic is very human and very normal. But equally by understanding it, normalizing it, and becoming self-aware, we can adapt and build resilience, we can understand what's going on. When there is trouble going on in the economy, something like a pandemic going on, people panic, and become reactive. And we see that we've seen that behavior during the pandemic. And I always say, be compassionate towards people that are having are behaving like that it's easy to kind of point the finger but people are it's like a stress response. It's like a primitive response.


I always think like looking through the lens of compassion and why that's going on. And what can we actually learn from it as well? How can we do better? This is where I would really advise you to make decisions when you're in a logical state of mind, not emotional. And I just want you to take a moment now might want to just think about this or write it down. What do you operating from a logical state of mind? Not emotional look like what's happened? How are you feeling? What are you doing? How do you think you know what's happening now, so for me, a logical state of mind and not emotional, I'd be well rested, I'd have had a really good night's sleep. I feel more logical after I've got some fresh air and I've been for a walk. I've taken a break from my computer. I've had a chat with a friend. But definitely like even you know the basic needs have been met. Also, having space to process things helps me have a logical mind and actually helps me sleep better. I've just, it's something I've realized about, I need to talk things through. I need to have space to talk it through to process things and be more logical.


So here are some of the things that I think will help you if you are feeling nervous or having wobbles about your business. I got a message today from someone who is having a wobble about their business and they were feeling like they needed to discount and change their business before Will you do that? Have a think about this structure. And this is something that you can use again, at any point that you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, panicky wobbly about your business. The first thing is, as I say, to make decisions from that logical state of mind where you're well rested and feeling your best. And that's why I asked you to write down what that is. So you know, I know what makes me tick, what makes you tick? What makes you operate logically when you're like making decisions from what they call the frontal lobe, a logical state of mind? What is that for you? Usually, we're all quite similar, good night's sleep, well rested, eating feeling well, not ill not stressed, not rushing, not emotional. That's that kind of logical place.


The next thing to help with your decision-making is to reduce your news consumption to stay informed. It's a very personal thing. I know some people that have the news on all the time, but I don't know how they do it. I can't operate like that I can't operate logically I can't take action. If I'm I'm just as I say, I'm a highly sensitive person who cannot have the news on all the time. But I do want to stay informed. So stay informed, but don't over-consume. News stories are mainly negative unfortunately, that's what gets people switching on the news. So reduce your news consumption and stay as informed as you want to stay some people it's a very personal thing, they don't watch the news at all.


The next thing is to, which follows on from that is to get advice from reputable sources. You can easily when you're thinking of something and you're panicking and worrying. You can go into the internet, rabbit hole, Google Google, or consume so much conflicting advice. So this is where I would say, again, limit how much you are consuming. And give yourself space to think and trust your own judgment as well. And trust yourself is why it's so important to have a space to process space for someone can hold space for you can ask questions and help you find your answers.


The next thing is, that I find really useful and all these things are really useful for any time when you're making decisions about your business, is gather data and information. It's so important, I talked about this all the time, it's so important to review your finances your results, and your data to understand them. Sometimes we can be so busy or we bury our heads in the sand. You bury your head in the sand and you don't look at them. But you need to understand what is working in your business and what isn't and what you want more of what your goals are as well. And then following on from that is also you know what I'm saying get advice from reputable sources. Having that person that business coach that you can call mentor, business coach or mentor that can hold space for you that can ask you questions help you process, advise if that's the kind of relationship you have with them, as well give you know, make suggestions and advice things but not force you down a certain route. But hear what you said. Help you come to your own answers, and make suggestions that you can then implement into your own business.


And lastly, it's like not being busy and burying your head in your sand because that's, that's the other way people can go. You can end up avoiding things and procrastinating and not actually facing something. So this isn't a time to bury your head in the sand. This is a time to be informed as well. And also just forgot a little story about you know, operating from a logical state of mind. When my mother-in-law died. My father-in-law went into kind of panic mode like he wanted to sell his house one minute, he wanted to move he wanted to buy a timeshare, he wanted to buy this car, he wanted to give his money away. We were getting different suggestions every week. And I think he started to talk about them with the probate solicitor who's obviously well versed in this kind of thing, very experienced, and said to him, wait one year before you make any decisions, and that stopped all that is kind of erratic like I should do this, I should do that. I should make these decisions because you've just lost your partner. You've just lost your lifelong partner and you're, you're under stress, emotional stress, think before you make all these, you know, make all these decisions. And that really got me thinking as well. They were saying to wait one year before you make any decisions. I'm not saying to you wait one year, you can go too far the other way and not make any decisions. But you know, wait and see if you still feel the same way a week later, at least because I know that through times of panic, people think I want to close my business or I want to do this thing or they make these big decisions that when they've had a good night's sleep or a break or some perspective, they don't feel like that. So that's where it's saying to make decisions from your logical state of mind.


The next thing, next part of this podcast I want to touch on practical steps you can implement to protect your business. Again, these things are relevant at any time as well. But during a recession, an economic downturn, people can make, again, erratic decisions where they can start cutting costs, you can go too far the other way, it's important to still be your business to grow your business, you need things to keep developing it, you cannot do it all yourself, you need to invest in your business as well. But you need to make sure they are the things that are working for your business things that you are implementing things that are getting you closer to your goals. So do reassess your monthly budget, and assess what your business needs to run and still grow. And look also at the things that are going to leverage your business and like accelerators as well.


The next thing is to increase and at least maintain your marketing efforts. This is not a time to, you know, analyze, paralysis, and not do any marketing do not stop being visible, or doing your marketing. So many businesses, big businesses as well cut their sales and marketing teams and their efforts thinking it's kind of a nice to have, and it's just that kill a business, they think it's going to save them money, and it does the opposite. So this is also a wake-up call that if you've been burying your head in the sand about your own marketing, now's the time to pay more attention to it or get more help and support with it if something's not working, or learn the thing that you need to do if you're in that stage where you're doing all your marketing. So this is to increase or maintain your marketing efforts. Don't stop them, that isn't where to cut your costs.


And the next one is to work with people you know, your clients go after, you know, do your marketing to people attract the people who value what you offer. This could be a really good time to upgrade, update, and reevaluate who you do business with and who your ideal client is, and what your niche is. And I'm not saying niche by sector, I'm more about niching by problems that you solve for people. And that's a whole other episode. But focus on those who are ready, willing, and can afford to work with you, they're out there, they really are out there, there are people that are always going to be whatever the economic climate, there are always going to be people who can work with you who can afford you. And who can't, that's always going to be the same, this isn't a time to devalue what you're doing. So I have two strands to my business, I have, you know, startups and people who are launching a business. And you know, that has always been a real passion of mine to help people in the early days. But I also work with people who grow in scale, and that has just naturally over the years, the grow and scale people, the people that have been in business for a few years are the ones that are more ready, and willing to invest. So it's not to say I don't help the people who are launching, but I might have a different kind of offer for them. But definitely look at the people who are ready to invest. And so you can focus your marketing efforts there.


The next thing that you could do is quite a savvy thing to do if you are looking at your niche and who your target audience is research recession-proof businesses, you know, I talked about, you know, as I said, there are many businesses that benefit and thrive in a recession. So work with them, do your research, and who would be good to work with during a recession, there are lots of recession-proof businesses, I remember hearing that the baby and child industry, you know, particularly when I had my twins, I couldn't stop buying stuff to solve problems, you know, sleep, anything, sleep, eating, happy baby. So apparently the reset, that's a recession-proof business. And there are lots of others as well. There are businesses that are thriving, there are businesses that have value, you know, continuing to grow during these times as well. So, you know, do your homework and look at those kinds of businesses, the businesses that are thriving businesses that value what you offer, they are out there.


The next thing is, you know, be smarter with what you invest in, invest in things that will leverage your business, not just the nice to haves, and maybe not the things you just don't want to do. Maybe that's the time this is a time to be, you know, a bit stricter with your investments and a bit savvier as well. But the things that will really level up your business. For instance, when I work with people, I always I, you know, start working with them when I will we always do a sort of resistance, a lot of what I'm talking about in here, which is actually you know, do we need to upgrade who your clients are, who are you, you know, what's your messaging, we look at your, I look at your offers, and then that always informs what's going on your website. So perhaps this is the time to either work with a business coach to improve your website, your marketing your sales process, processes in your automation you know, or upgrade your services and offers.


The next thing you can do to survive and thrive in a recession and economic downturn is re-evaluate and revamp your offers and services. Now is not the time to discount and devalue what you do. But if someone cannot afford what you offer, you could always consider ways you can serve them and help them without trading time for money. For instance, you know, DIY courses, ebooks, self-study, or digital products, we always have those clients that we want to help that just can't quite afford us. And that's where those kinds of products that aren't you trading time for money really come into play. And they also nurture them, when they are ready, they are ready to grow and scale their business or they are ready to make that next step.


And the next thing I sort of touched on earlier is upgrade your support, upgrade and get your support. This isn't you aren't at any point, you aren't supposed to do everything alone as a business owner or know everything. Make sure that you surround yourself with a tribe of business owners who are supportive and keep you motivated. And you've got to know, a business coach or mentor in your corner supporting you. And lastly, protect your business, make sure you've got good business insurance, if you've been putting that off, get some business insurance, that you've got the contracts in place, and I'm gonna put some links in the show notes to the insurance. I use get dinghy and coffee klatch, whose contracts I use, I've got links in the comments for you. There are affiliate links, but I only share things that I use. And I love and I've tried and tested. But this is the time to make sure that you are protected as well. Because if businesses, unfortunately, cannot pay you or go out of business, and it does happen, then you aren't protected without these things. So make sure you've got them and yeah, use them. And the thing is, we get these insurances, and we get these contracts, but we don't use them to their full potential. We don't read the small print and the way that they do things or the guidance that can actually help us protect ourselves. So spend some time maybe put a date in your diary where you're like, look, I'm going to sort out my insurance, I'm going to get my contracts, I'm going to understand them. And I'm going to protect myself.


Okay, let me just recap for you, again, those practical steps you can implement to protect your business at any point. But now more than ever reassess your monthly budget. But don't cut off the things that you need to grow your business or get you closer to your goals increase or maintain your marketing efforts. This is a time of being real about whether are you doing enough marketing, is it effective. Work with people who value what you offer, maybe it's a time to upgrade into who your ideal clients are and research recession-proof businesses, as I said before, many businesses benefit and thrive in recessions, so work with them. Invest in things that leverage your business, not just the nice to-haves. It's not just about getting cover for the things you don't like doing. It's the things that are going to move your business forward.


Next thing is to upgrade and get support. You're not supposed to do this all on your own. And staying in an echo chamber with lots and lots of ideas that people I work with have lots and lots of ideas, but they're not actioning them and taking action. Maybe, you know, some sessions with a business coach will actually help you just make take action, make a decision, and move forward. And you know, we all need that. And the last thing is to protect your business. Make sure you've got good business insurance and contracts in place and you understand them as well. Hope you found that useful. The last thing I will say is if you found any of this useful do chat to me on Instagram I'm @Ruth_Gilbey. And also if there's anything that you've used that's helped your business and you'd want to share, have a chat with me on Instagram share with me your top tips and I'll share them with my audience. Hope you found that useful


Thanks for listening to the inspiring women in business podcast. I hope you found this episode helpful. If you did, I would love it if you would leave me a review. Also, I would love to connect with you on Instagram. That's where I hang out most of the time. I'm @Ruth_Gilbey. I'll put a link in the show notes for you as well come and connect with me Tell me about your business. And also tell me what you'd like to hear next on the podcast. And lastly, go and check out the business building hub on my website. There you can find more amazing free resources to help you take the next step in your business. And you can also find out other ways that you can work with me. I'll see you soon