Finding your way in the Recession

How does the Recession hurt your business?  I’m not referring to the usual stories about loss of revenue and subsequent lay-offs, but rather how tough times might cause people to lose sight of their goals or even change them in uncomfortable ways.  Today’s blog posting is by a guest, who wishes only to be identified as design studio principal in Baltimore, MD. In DSP‘s words,

“The year 2008 was the best year, in terms of revenue, for my award winning design studio.  2009 was 30% down from 2008; and, 2010 was 50% down from 2008.  During the heyday of 2008, I was too busy to reflect upon whether or not I was fulfilled by my work; and, I was distracted by the inflow of money.

My first response to the Recession, which I began to feel in June 2009, was to join a small business owners’ group so as to apply some conventional business strategies to my design studio.  For example, I redesigned my website to make it more “accessible” (read “commercial”).  This was a mistake.  The quality of commissions since 2009 fell dramatically.  Clients were no longer going with our best work; they were selecting the most banal options and “dumbing them down” even further.  We stopped entering competitions.

By autumn of 2010, I was becoming desperate, thinking of abandoning my practice and returning to school for a doctorate in architectural history and theory, or some other less reasonable pursuit. It had taken me 18 months to realize that I was simply bored with the content of my work, and that even if revenues increased again, I did not want to continue doing what I had been doing.  This was a significant turning point.

One thing I knew was that I needed a process to tame the wildly divergent thoughts going through my head.  I called Anne Headley after an internet search for a career counselor, and took the aptitude tests she recommended.  By the time we met, I felt like I was getting back onto more solid ground.

Looking at all of my options, I realized that I could improve the intellectual content of my work within the framework of the design studio I had built.  This subtle shift in thinking has opened up a lot of new possibilities that I am actively pursuing by networking with cultural and not for profit institutions and giving myself the time to initiate projects that focus on the subjects that interest me.  In a sentence, the Recession—albeit through a painful process—led me to get into better touch with my core values and to make better use of my time going forward.”

AH here: thank you for sharing your insight.  If I understand you, you are saying that when you compromise your goals, you lose enthusiasm, creativity vanishes, and the business you do attract doesn’t do a darned thing to restore what you had before.  Wow!

I cannot say that there is anything wrong with adjusting your message to accommodate to the Recession, but clearly you gave up a focus that was very important to your mission.

I’m so glad that you woke up, that the aptitude assessments reminded you of your gifts, and that you have recaptured your energy.  Thank you for being willing to share this story.  It’s not something one hears every day.


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