Surviving Recession

How To Survive a Recession

The secret to surviving a recession is opportunity recognition.  The first step in opportunity recognition is to know and believe that there will always be opportunity for those who seek and pursue it.  Regardless of how bad the economy may seem, people still buy and sell.  People still have needs to fill and businesses have products and services that meet those needs.  When the economy goes south, however, there is mass fear and concern and the perception is that the entire world may completely cease to function.  This is patently untrue.  Even in the Great Depression of the 1930’s the world continued to function and 75% of Americans had work and jobs.  Some people actually became wealthy during the Great Depression because they were able to identify opportunity and capture it.

One of the great examples of success during the Great Depression is the motion picture industry.  People were so distressed and fearful about their economic condition they needed emotional relief and a means to escape.  The movies provided that relief, no matter how brief and temporary.  The movie industry identified need and opportunity and filled it at a price people were able to pay.  Opportunity always exists, even though it may be harder to recognize in tough times because it takes a different form.

In good times, opportunity comes in the form of just doing more of what already works.  Opportunity in good times assumes the continuation of the normal and capitalizes on things remaining normal.  In bad times, opportunity comes by abandoning things that no longer work and finding new things that will work, based on new needs.  Recession itself is a great opportunity for those who choose to see it that way.  It’s just that the opportunities may look different and they might require us to leave our comfort zones.  Now we are down to the real stress that a bad economy produces; the stress of change and the need to leave our comfort zones!  Sometimes that means taking a new road.

Sometimes taking new roads leads you in a completely different direction than you had originally intended, with favorable consequences.  Here’s a great example: In 1927, a young married couple started a hot dog and root beer stand called The Hot Shoppe.  They had many years of success but they saw greater opportunity along the new highways being built across America.  They opened a motor lodge for travelers to sleep overnight.  That venture helped J. Willard and Alice Marriott build one of the greatest hotel chains in the United States.  In 2007, The Marriott Corporation was handling over 50,000 reservations a day!

If you see something that needs to be done and you have the opportunity to do it, don’t let someone else seize the opportunity.  Be bold and step up to the task. If you are the first person to see that something needs to be done, you are probably the best person to do it.  That is the action you need to take when you identify opportunity.  But, what is it that helps us recognize new opportunities?

The people who have trouble recognizing opportunity are most likely the same people who are unwilling to leave their comfort zones.  What is a comfort zone?  First and foremost it is a mental state in which people lose the momentum to pursue a vision because they have accepted where they are as the best they need to be or do.   Identifying and capturing new opportunities always requires strategic change and the nature of strategic change always disrupts comfort zones.  That is why change is a big deal to people and is so difficult to achieve. The pain that accompanies change can be financial, physical, or emotional, but regardless of the type of discomfort created by change, recession and hard economic times demand that you embrace it if you intend to remain competitive and effective.

Comfort zones are called comfort zones because they are comfortable! The only thing required to remain in a comfort zone is to close yourself off to new ideas and refuse to change. Over the years, I’ve learned that nothing very interesting or innovative ever emerges from a comfort zone, except more plans to make the comfortable more comfortable.  Comfort zones impact all of us. When people in organizations become too comfortable, it’s because they have lost the momentum to pursue their vision. Why? Because they’ve accepted where they are as the best they need to be or do.  Recession and hard times require a different response.

So, how do you survive a recession?  First, you embrace a mindset that relentlessly pursues new opportunity.  Don’t close yourself off to new ideas and change and become an expert on what people need and want.  In a recession, people may want some things that are different and someone will have to fill those needs.  Second, read lots of books, magazines and other publications that may expose new needs your product or service might be able to meet.  You will probably discover that people still want your product or service, but just need to see it differently.

This brings us to the final piece of the puzzle on surviving a recession.  You must be able to articulate a powerful value proposition for your product or service that will resonate with the felt needs of your customers and potential customers.  Understanding their deepest felt needs is the key to understanding the value of what you have to offer.  Talk to your customers and prospects.  Discover their problems and concerns and you will discover your opportunities!

©2008 Tony Jeary, author of Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life.

About the writer: Tony Jeary has been and continues to be the coach to the world’s top CEOs and high achievers for more than 20 years. His clients include the Presidents of Wal-Mart, Firestone, Shell, Samsung, New York Life, and the United States Senate, to name only a few. An advisor to many, Tony Jeary has invested his life and career in helping others discover new clarity for their vision, develop focus on direction, and create powerful execution strategies that strategically impact achievement and results. Tony is happily married and blessed with 2 great daughters.

Learn more about Strategic Acceleration at

Visit Tony Jeary at

15 Responses to How To Survive a Recession

  1. Marko Saric says:

    Good article! Being open-minded and not being afraid to take a risk are big parts of it. Also people tend to think about doing something, and they just think. It is all about analysing, planning etc, but it never turns into something.

    So another tip would be to just go for it. For example start a blog about your passion. Write consistently, write useful quality articles, go to social media like Twitter and find people that are interested in your topic.

    After some time you will have a blog with a growing readership, you will have growing influence and you will have opportunities to improve your financial situation by getting income from your blog.


  2. Vincent says:

    Hi Tony,

    There are opportunities lying in the crisis and all we need is to open our eyes wide and keep a look out for it. In the last recession, millionaires are being created when the economy recovered because those are the people who stayed positive and kept looking for opportunities instead of worrying about the crisis.

    Personal Development Blogger

  3. LikeSoup says:

    Don’t let anybody convince you that 2009 has to be a bad year. Believe and Grow Rich.

  4. Simona Rich says:

    What recession? I don’t see any!

    I guess if you are looking for lack, you find lack. If you are looking for abundance, you find abundance.

  5. An very honest article. I especially agree with the last paragraph.

    This is a good time to remember that we literally become what we think about and to be sure we take the right action to keep growing.

  6. S Sundaram says:

    Fear makes us afraid and change is a big one that immobilises many of us.

    In a depression the stock market is the one where everyone believs you will lose or have already lost your money. No, it is not true. Even during depressions and recessions there are people who make profits out of stock trading. As this article suggests, you need to have a open mind and eager to look at new ways of doing things.

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  8. This is a really great article Tony. The interesting point is that recession is a collective mindset as well as an economic state of affairs. If we all started to think and behave as if there wasn’t a recession, I think the economic recovery would be far quicker.
    It does take courage, especially as doing this flies in the face of our attitudes of our family and peers (potentially) but if we’re determined to do everything possible to get out of this situation, it’s worth giving it a try as really we have nothing to lose.

  9. Michael says:

    Great article with some interesting facts. I have read Tony’s book as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you guys want to check out some more inspirational articles, visit Joan Marie Whelan’s blog at

    Joan Marie is also a lifestyle transformation coach who helped me through some personal difficulties, and showed me how to create my own wealth and success. She is awesome!

  10. Thanks Tony for positive thoughts. Business comes and it goes and it doesn’t matter so long we have a smart ways to make things happen. I believe it’s about time that we have to master how to do things right than to do the right things alone. A paradigm shift from our ordinary business life strategies which is running out of dynamism into a new dimension of business developmental strategies. This way of thinking cannot be learned from a traditional academy, rather a smart way of learning the internet day-to-day secret weapons and activities. Freelancing,writing, researching, social networking,blogging, posting, professional improvement sites are just plain to see. You just have to find out the key. Mentoring is one of the key I tell you, and it did a lot of success to me as I begin this year. Florida business coaching has been one of my mentors who impacted my financial and entrepreneurial success.

  11. Really great article. It’s difficult to expand ourselves to recgonize opportunties when the economy is contracting, but absolutely necessary. Whether it’s in a recession or economic growth, only risks yield rewards.

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  13. Chris Phone says:

    Have to agree there is opportunity everywhere. We simply often lack perspective. Even if the economy contracted another 20%, which is highly unlikely, we would still be far better off than 90% of the world.

  14. Joyce Brown says:

    Comments or Point of Contact, Invite code is: Joyce
    Sounds like you know how to celebrate life. Me too!
    Glad that I found you!

  15. People make a great error to compare the 30’s recession with the one we experience nowadays. In the 30’s there were no nuclear arsenals piles , no Iran, Iraq, Afghan nor  most of the world in state of bankruptcy. In the 30’s there was no computer age neither the world powers of then had their Armed Forces in a state of bankruptcy as we see today. In the 30’s our planet was not over populated neither there were
    over satured business fields like we see today. The WWII had its positive finanacial aspects. The next war if at all , wont be conventional  eventhough may start conventional at first. In the 30’s you didn’t have nukes in 3rd world countries nor China and India racing to the moon and mars nor the muslims threating the rest of the world.  In the 30’s energy cunsumtion was not this of today and people life style didn’t include a TV set, sport cars, Internet, and modern society sicknesses etc etc  …so please don’t bring up these arguments and wrong comparison factors….

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