What To Do In Good Times And In Bad
Updated: May 21
At the end of 2017 my husband, Wayne published an article entitled, “The Coming Economic Bust: Are You Prepared?” Wayne’s premise was that considering the length of the economic boom that the U.S. has experienced over the past 10 years or so, history dictates that we were soon due an economic “bust.”
This had nothing to do with predicting Covid-19. It had everything to do with observing historical data. Since the dawn of modern markets, the U.S. economy goes through cycles of growth, followed by recessions. These up and down cycles are triggered by differing events, but they occur with regularity.
Three months ago, the economy was roaring. Stock prices were at all-time highs, interest rates and unemployment were at historic lows. Who could have seen that within a few weeks the stock market would lose trillions and unemployment would be the highest its ever been? Who could have forecasted that thousands of businesses would close, in the process eliminating or laying off thousands of workers?
Perhaps the specifics were hard to see, but the trend-lines were there. The purpose of this post is to help you navigate the perilous times we are in, and to help you avoid being taken by surprise in the future.
Here is the good news. The economic pullback will not last forever. Historically, boom cycles last twice as long as busts. The Great Recession of 2007 lasted 18 months, officially ending in June 2009. Since that time, the U.S. economy has experienced year-over-year prosperity. That is over ten years of growth!
The bad news you already know: Covid-19 has plunged the world and its markets into uncertainty. Here are some principles you should apply to help you navigate and even thrive during the current and future economic cycles.
What To Do During Down-cycles
1. Do not panic. The economy will eventually rebound. The down-cycle will not last forever. In the interim, begin looking for opportunities. In every cycle there are winners and losers. The job losses are real, but certain industries are poised for growth in the age of Covid-19. Portions of the medical sector, telecommunications and delivery services will thrive. How can you position yourself within an ascendant industry? This could be your big opportunity!
2. Be adaptable. As companies come to terms with the impact of the social distancing aspect of Covid-19, we are seeing a massive increase in online activities. Every industry is finding ways to continue in this new reality. Mega churches have moved completely online and seeing their viewership increase in the process. Many have claimed that their financial contributions have remained steady due to the use of online giving. The NFL held its first virtual draft. Consider how you can take your business online and sustain it there for extended periods.
3. Learn a new skill. Down times provide time for introspection and learning. It is much harder to stop and change directions amid the hustle and bustle of boom times. Down-cycles deliver the gift of time. Perhaps it is time to learn a new skill or to consider how you may adjust what you do professionally to suit the new economy. This should not be wasted. It should be a time of significant growth and learning. As more people move online, it may be time to update your technical/computer skills.
4. Be entrepreneurial. This is the age of the free agent. Is there a need that you can fill? Can you start something for profit? Even if you currently work for or plan on working for a company or organization, you must think like an entrepreneur. Become an “in-trepreneur." Your seniority and experience at your company may not carry the day. You will have to provide leadership and bottom-line results to thrive within a company during a down-cycle. Run your team or your department as if it were your own.
What To Do When The Economy Rebounds
1. Get out of debt. Your goal is to prepare yourself for the next economic bust when assets become devalued. Debt hampers you from capitalizing on those assets (real estate, stocks and bonds, businesses) when they go on sale during the bust cycle. You cannot take advantage of those opportunities when you are mired in debt. So, pay off your debt and build some savings for the future.
2. Become an investor. The wealthy own assets, the rest own liabilities— things that cost money to own and maintain. Spend some time in thought about how you may begin to invest in income-producing assets. Begin reading up on how to do this. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki is a great place to start.
3. Be flexible. The world moves at a rapid pace. This demands flexibility. Things will not remain the same, nor will they go back to the way they were before Covid-19. Keep your eyes on the economic cycles and prepare yourself to thrive in good times and bad.
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