How to Thrive in a Recession

-Q: How do you know a recession is of truly staggering proportions?

-A: When it becomes socially fashionable to trumpet your unemployed status on the Internet.

Remember Dale Carnegie, the author of "How to win friends and influence people?" One of the things Dale repeated over and over again is a concept most people do not seem to “get” – you deserve to be paid what you are worth, not what you think you are worth.

If you think you are not getting paid what you are worth, you have two choices: you either provide more value to your employer, or find another way to be compensated for the value you are capable of providing. One way to do that is to stop following the herd of sheep and open your own business. Another way is to go the extra mile above and beyond your job description and show your employer that you can provide more value to the business, if given the opportunity.

Keep in mind, though, that Dale's rule applies to self-employment as well. The more value you provide to your customers, the more likely they will be to want to hand over money in exchange for your services. The concept applies equally well to goods. To thrive in a recession, you must do exactly the same thing you would do when times are good, but harder.

This wikiHow will not give you all the answers, but the concepts presented here are proven to work. This is how the author of this article has been able to say "What recession??".


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    Be ready to deliver value wherever you may be. To thrive in a challenging economy you must do the same as you would in a growing economy -- position yourself to deliver value that matches your expectation of compensation.
    • Most people do only enough to get by, to get the work done and go home. Because of that, they deliver minimum value to their employer or customer, and are compensated accordingly.
    • In good times, that may be enough to keep your job, but... in a down economy the recipients of your services will do the same as you would – hunker down, protect cash flow and cut costs as much as possible in areas that do not deliver as much value as others – you.
    • Sometimes the only source of inventory for the services you can provide is your wetware -- otherwise known as a "brain."
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    Let others see the value of your knowledge. To make yourself more valuable to your customers or employer, you have to find ways to make your knowledge and services more valuable. To make your knowledge and services more valuable, you have to increase the value of your knowledge and services. Delivering value is very simple -- identify the expectations of your customer or employer, then deliver your services in a way satisfies the recipient by meeting or exceeding those expectations.
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    Ask others to tell you what are your best and worst traits and skills. Your friends will certainly have opinions, but you may want to ask them to write them down with a computer and print them out without identifying information. Some people call this a 360-degree evaluation, and it can be a real eye-opener. You may find out things about yourself you thought no one else noticed, but keep an open mind and do not take any negative comments personally -- those are opportunities for improvement!
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    Devise a creative approach using your best skills and traits to entice more customers to use your services. More often than not, people already have the potential to offer more value, but do not know it, and therefore do not know how to exploit that potential. For example, anyone can ask for a job, but few people ask employers or clients for an opportunity to contribute to their bottom line and be paid accordingly.
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    Picture your path to success as a journey, and set a path for yourself to your goals.
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    Visualize where you want to be in one month, six months, a year and five years from now. This implies having a vision of your goal. Your journey must have a destination, otherwise you will meander and achieve nothing.
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    Sit down and write a page describing to yourself where you are now. If you use a GPS to get somewhere, the GPS will not be able to help you unless it can see satellites. Without that information it cannot tell you where you are, where you have been, what path to take to your destination. This is called "baselining" and gives you something to compare to judge how much progress you have made towards your goals.
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    Make an outline of steps that describe to yourself how to get to your goals using "divide and conquer." Any complex undertaking can be simplified by dividing it into manageable chunks. Devise a simple, straightforward plan that covers daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly activities and goals.
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    Regularly review your goals and adjust your actions to match. At a daily level, look at yourself in the mirror, remind yourself this will be another outstanding day, and take a look at your list of goals. At the weekly level, review your accomplishments and plan for the next week. Every quarter, review your progress so far and determine what adjustments must be made. At the yearly level, celebrate your accomplishments and review any areas where you fell short of your goals as opportunities.
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    Do NOT change your goals on a whim. You should never second-guess yourself just because you think something cannot be accomplished. The only limitations you have are the ones you create in your own mind. If you have any doubts about that, ask any Marine how he/she managed to make it through Boot Camp. (Hint: All it takes is wanting to do so.)
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    Microglobalize. One of the benefits of the Internet is that it shrinks the world into a manageable size through the use of business and personal networking services such as LinkedIn[1] and Facebook[2]. Do not be afraid to make contact with potential customers in other countries. There is no such thing as a language barrier on the Internet, not since Google introduced their Translate[3] service. It may not be 100% perfect, but it doesn't need to be!
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    Share your knowledge. The concept is the same as giving free samples. Helping people by answering questions on the Internet in your area of expertise, for example, can go a long ways to establishing business contacts that could lead to profitable relationships. Be careful to pace yourself, though, and remember that the idea is to make money in the process.
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    Remember to save a little out of every dollar you make. You never know when you will need reserves to take advantage of an opportunity or to get you over a dip on the road to success.
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    Be prepared to take risks. It is not possible to be successful without taking risks. However, it is possible to take calculated risks by doing your homework and identifying the threats to your goals so you can plan how to keep them from turning into vulnerabilities. Coin collectors call it "Buy the book before buying the coin." Remember as well that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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    If you fall down, get up and keep going. Remember, no matter how bad things are for you, there's always someone worse off, and even when you think you have hit rock bottom, there is always only one way to go -- UP!
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    Most importantly, enjoy the journey. Life is short, and you will not be able to take anything with you when it is time to check out.


  • W. Edwards Deming, the quality guru, once devised a very interesting four-step program to improving quality that can be used in every day life.
    • PLAN - Plan what you are going to do today, tomorrow, next week, etc.
    • DO - Execute your plan.
    • CHECK - Check the results to learn what you did right, what you did wrong, and how to improve.
    • ACT - Determine what needs to be done differently the next time, then start all over again at PLAN.

Things You'll Need

  • A desire to achieve success
  • An open mind
  • Paper and pencil, or a computer, printer and word processing program
  • A lack of fear of reinventing yourself
  • An understanding and supportive family

Article Info

Categories: Recession