Hot Topic – Recession Proofing

Earlier today I posted about someone posting about somebody else’s post on jobs that are “recession proof” ( gotta love the internets :)

That post spawned a request from Jeremy Geelan over at Sys-Con to give my two cents on yet another “recession” related technology topic: 10 Tips for Riding Out the Recession as a Software Vendor.  

The post was crafted from 10 technology execs that had tips to hunker down and see this thing through :

  1. Prioritize Harvesting Existing Assets and Opportunities (Jeremy Chone @ Nexaweb)
  2. Plan For The Worst (Mitchell Kertzman, Hummer Winblad VC)
  3. Focus on Helping Your Customers’ Bottom Line (Jnan Dash, Curl)
  4. Get Revenue Control (Chris Keene, WaveMaker)
  5. Buckle Down, Conserve Your Cash (Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator)
  6. Push Agility and Speed (John Crupi, JackBe)
  7. Grow the Talent You Have (Jason Calacanis,
  8. Make Your Top Ten 10% Better (Jason Calacanis,
  9. Build Market-share (Jason Calacanis,
  10. Adopt Cloud Computing (Michael Sheehan, GoGrid & ServePath)
Good post – the “2 cents” I shared with them – 

I think everyone of these tips are excellent for any business, but aren’t all of them things we should be doing anyhow? Recession or no recession? When we look to expand our business at EffectiveUI, we look for ways our clients can save big money or really grow revenue (or both). Why else would anyone hire us? Recession proofing your company is about making your company excellent. That way, during down times you will do more than just survive, and in bullish times you will thrive.

Our focus continues to be on attracting awesome talent and fostering a culture of teamwork, entrepreneurship and execution excellence. And then, most importantly, getting out of our own way. I’ve been astounded how successful it is when you empower everyone in a company to make a difference. What does empowerment actually mean? Giving permission to fail, as long as they fail forward. It means trusting your team has done their homework and has more context than you when making important  decisions. I’m not talking about anarchy – we all collaborate on a direction, provide insight based on our experience & education, and sometimes (but very rarely) managers have to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the entire company. However, we’ve come to realize that success does not look like a bunch of “heroes” at the top make miraculously insightful decisions that pull the company ahead – rather success looks like a bunch of small failures where managers provide support, encouragement, some structure, and above all else – foster a great team culture.

What I meant by my comments: To recession proof your business: Focus On Quality People! They are the best chance to ride through any downturn.  

Then, as an ironic coincidence, Guy Kawasaki from AllTop just twittered an old post he wrote over 2 years ago: “The Art Of Bootstrapping” … The “list”:

  1. Focus on cash flow, not profitability.
  2. Forecast from the bottom up.
  3. Ship, then test
  4. Forget the ”proven“ team.
  5. Start as a service business.
  6. Focus on function, not form.
  7. Pick your battles.
  8. Understaff.
  9. Go direct.
  10. Position against the leader.
  11. Take the “red pill.”
Guy’s post is a worth-while read for sure (you need to read it to dig into the meaning of each item) .
I would humbly argue the “proven” team item just a bit – He states that you should start with hiring young guys and gals that are really smart over experienced people from billion dollar companies. He’s forgetting about those people that come from mid-size companies that have experience under their belt and can get you where you need to go with less risk and much faster than if you hired a bunch of new college grads that have never actually put a UI on top of an SOA (or worse, they don’t know how to spell API or SOA). Even better – find a partner that has experience building enterprise applications for those billion dollar companies ;)  They can get you rolling quickly without the weight of a “corporate” structure – Best of both worlds!


  1. You have the what to do covered here. The overlying “leading indicators” for success in each of your statements will be the people who are doing it. That success will come from four levels of fit. Fit with the Job, Fit with the manager, Fit with the team and Fit with the organizaiton.

    70%+ of the current workforce is at some level disengaged in their jobs – costing organizations millions$ in lost opportunity and real dollars in payroll and expenses. Now is not the time to be carrying people in your organization.

    Time for an inventory of your team, make desicions on who needs to find a different seat on the bus and who needs to get on another bus. Now is the time to searching for talent. Talent that fits. The challenge is the old way of doing this for the most part has delivered terrible results. Time to also use different approaches to recruitment.

  2. Hi Anthony: Thanks for the good blog article. I’d like to add one more thing to your list:

    11) Be disruptive by becoming a great alternative to software and services that are perceived to be expense, don’t deliver needed new features, or don’t deliver satisfactory service/support.

    PushToTest is doing this to the commercial test and performance monitoring industry: We’re a great alternative to expensive and poorly supported test tools for the SOA, RIA/Ajax, Web services space.


  3. Frank – I think you mean “don’t deliver unneeded new features” – I’m not sure what you mean by “don’t deliver satisfactory service/support”

    I think companies really need to focus energy in providing excellent service and support – even try to differentiate based on that (maybe that’s what you meant?)

  4. ,Genus, Species

    Felines are a ‘Family’ of mammals in the animal kingdom.
    But what does this really mean and how does it relate them to other animals?
    Science understands the organization of nature to be hierarchical with each step on the ladder or branch of the tree describing a degree of physical similarity,
    and from more recent findings, genetic closeness.
    This branch of knowledge is called taxonomy.

    Kingdom Phylum, ,Genus, Species
    telecommunications standard rs 422

  5. igormir said:

    Sem bolj zacetnik v avtoakustiki, ceprav bi se rad orenk ufuru u to, ker zadnje 2 mesce po netu iscem
    samo informacije o tem – ful me zanimia. Si pa trenutno ne znam sestaviti enega orenk kompleta
    ojacevalec + woofer + sprednji sistem. Kaj svetujete?

    Aja, pa se to..
    Ima ze kdo izkusnje s kupovanjem v trgovini Avtoakustika?

    Ta sem nasel en fajn komplet, ampak nisem cist ziher, ce bi narocil prek neta.

  6. hey , im new to this forum. its a Great place

    hope im welcome :)

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