This is a really strange economy. Some countries around the world are experiencing slowdowns in growth and after a record-long run of stock market highs, some in this country think that it just can’t last forever.
Then there’s the political dimension in which pundits and entire networks seem to be rooting for the economy to tank. Others assure us that the banks are healthy, companies are profitable, and the only way a recession can occur anytime soon is due to a self-fulfilling prophesy. After all, the markets are driven more by confidence than by profits.
Of course what many members of The Edge learned after The Great Recession of 2008 is that a recession has its upsides as well. (Though no one would want one of that magnitude again.)
Sure, some designers saw customers grow timid and commercial clients terminate contracts. Many scrambled to take on jobs they would previously have declined. Some had to lay people off or take a lower salary for themselves.
But you know what? Eleven years later…those same designers still here! Thousands attended my conferences from 2004 to 2009 and I’m not aware of a single one that actually went out of business due to the Great Recession. They hunkered down, ate scraps if they had to, and hung on. And now they’re back and so is the demand for full-scale interior design projects, undiminished by so-called e-design and online sourcing.
In fact, many reported to me some ironic facts about the Great Recession of 2008, such as:
- Wealthy people who fear an economic downturn move money out of long-term investments and into cash. And it takes cash to purchase interior design services;
- Wealthy people did cut out many things such as travel, cars, yachts, planes, etc., but data shows that there was only a modest downturn in the purchase of furniture;
- Savvy designers were able to make the case to their clients that the Recession was a great time to invest in one’s “cocoon” and with affordable labor, they could actually increase the value of their property when the recession was over.
- Many designers pulled in their horns which gave more space to those who were willing to double down on their marketing.
- A brief period of slack demand gave designers a critical time to catch up on admin and systems work and to create leaner and more efficient firms, more than making up for any short-term losses when business returned.
There are industry niches where the real pros relish the slow times more than the fast times. Real estate investors will tell you it’s not about selling at a high price, but about buying at a low price that ensures their success. Warren Buffet loves it when times are tough, saying, “Buy when others are selling and sell when others are buying.”
The consensus seems to be that we’ll see a fairly mild and short recession in 2020. Rather than fear or dread it, why not starting thinking right now how you will capitalize on that event while other designers are chewing their nails.
Of course Warren Buffet and others also say something else: The consensus is almost always wrong.