The Last Recession Brought Me Down: A Reminder that Challenges Can Make You Stronger

10 Apr 2020
| Last update: 01 Sep 2020

I was just starting out back then, fresh out of high school. Got a sort of part-time gig in web design and I was working with a web development company.

Had some first customers from France and Belgium for whom I designed some pretty cool interfaces for their web stores (as cool as e-commerce stores could look back in 2008).

It felt so good. The clients were really happy with them. This lead to me being able to actually buy stuff with my own money for the first time. I was monetizing my skills. This was so cool for me, because in high school I kept myself busy learning about the Internet, about web design, about Adobe Photoshop and how a lot of great new businesses were joining this “New Media” thing.

From there I went on to handle other aspects of marketing for some clients (and became a full timer! yay). I was growing so much. It was 100 times better than what I was learning at the Tech University in town. Because all of this was real. I was changing my clients’ businesses. What I was doing for my customers was real and there was so much personal growth happening.

Then the recession hit hard. Like, really hit hard. It was at the peak, I guess (now looking backward).

From the really big high I was in, because I’d finally gotten wings and I was soaring high in the sky like an eagle, I then started rocketing down like a missile.

Boom!

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My clients got hit. One after the other, clients of the web development company were going out of business.

It was like every single day I was afraid to pick up the phone because I knew what I would hear: “Hey Florin, this was a nice run. Unfortunately, we’re going to close down and not sure if we’ll be back up again.”

These were all good people. Sure, we had a few customers that were hard to deal with, but most of them were amazing and they were giving it their best to develop truly valuable businesses.

However, business has never been easy, has it? “It’s a war of attrition” – one of my favorite quotes from TitanFall. – and it’s always like that. Something’s always coming up (most of the times to take you down).

I was so used to hearing from them, discussing their projects, etc. and there was so much energy during those calls. Soon, the phone didn’t even ring. It was terrifying.

“Well… seems like the end of it, doesn’t it?” – I asked myself.

You know… you hear Tony Robbins speaking about “Winter coming” to businesses and how inevitable it is. And then he tells you to be optimistic, because Spring will come right after.

Well, I didn’t know this back then. It was not just my first recession experienced, it was also my first time being .. you know… an adult and trying to become a business partner at the company I was working for.

I was young, and you know how young people always think it’s the end of the world.

That’s all I could think about… until I didn’t.

Working with those business owners: some of them in retail, others in network marketing, others in affiliate marketing, others in Tech, others in real estate (yeah…), taught me that everyone struggles. And that I liked being a part of their struggle. Because I knew that all my youth, my power, and my passion could make a difference.

It had to.

Since I wasn’t doing any design works anymore, because everything was canceled, I started having a bit of clarity.

“There still are companies being our clients. Sure, they don’t need new designs because that seems like an un-necessary cost during these times. However, those who are still running: they still need something. They need to communicate. They still need to be found by customers”.

It really got me thinking. Some things don’t work right now. But some do. There still are people with money in the world. People are still buying stuff.

I got myself learning about writing sales letters and I started contacting the customers we still had left. I packed amazing value to get them found on search engines and social media (only because I had no email marketing skills at that time + social media was really edgy in 2009 for companies).

This is not going to be one of those stories where the main character gets a clear vision and then wins big.

Because I didn’t win big. Not by far.

However, that shift in perspective, got us enough clients for the packages I wrote, so that we could keep our mission alive.

And it got me a seat at the table. (can I hear a: Yay!)

The company survived, and I made my contribution. I had to, because these people had been kind enough not to fire me due to the uncertain times.

The economy then started recovering, and because we were one of the very few reputable companies left standing, we rapidly rallied lots of customers to come join us. It was easy because the ocean wasn’t red anymore… meaning: there wasn’t enough competition to provide roadblocks for us. Because they let the situation drown them. Which is also what I almost did as well… until I didn’t.

Once it was over, we grew pretty fast, but that’s a story for another time.

All that period did to me was teach me that recessions can happen and that they will happen. But it did more than that. It taught me that they will also go away.

The ones who come out winners at the end will be doing very well after.

It’s why I was obsessed with building so many products at the Squirrly Company since I started it. This company had to be recession-proof because I knew another global recession would be waiting there on the horizon.

If you have multiple revenue streams, it will be hard to lose. – this could be a potential reasoning.

But that’s NOT it.

The reasoning is: “if I can give my customers enough tools, they’ll be able to creatively get themselves out of any Crisis”. Then, no recession will ever bring me down. And I can ensure I never have that many customers running out of business ever again.

Everybody, including a few folks from Microsoft I keep in touch with ask me why I don’t just quit the small business space and move on to the Enterprise. Especially with the BizSpark program we could start selling a lot of our tech through them. And make some real money.

And that would be nice. But I’m just not passionate about helping huge companies get even larger.

I’ve built Squirrly to help people who have something:

  • to do
  • to create
  •  to make
  • to say
  • to influence

To be able, skillful and coached enough that they can do everything on their own, without having to rely on a cross-roads demon and have to sell their souls to make their way into the world. You don’t need the rainmaker.

You want to do something? – I want you to be able to use something that we create and get the help you need, so you can make it happen. On Your own. Without having to pay 50% or 70% to someone else, just because they are that all-market-knowing business dude who can take you farther.

I will not accept defeat. I will not stop until you can do that.

Technology and cloud services have so much to offer people. Evolution data and stored data can lead to so many business wins. It’s phenomenal. I know that I can build many types of software-based consultants to help you achieve everything you want, without any of the overhead and the headaches of dealing with too many people.

Now, turn off the TV. If the world does go out in flames, someone’s gonna tell you.

I wish all of you would reflect on this for a while.

Stay positive. Gain Clarity.

Think about what YOU can do during these times to bring some wins to your table.

And then prepare for when the recession is over.

Our plans for becoming recession-proof have worked incredibly well. I’m grateful that I could learn from that life-changing event back then. It safeguarded me against this new one. I am responsible for a lot more people now than I was back then.

I hope you’ll also make amazing plans. Squirrly SEO (especially the new one: https://www.producthunt.com/upcoming/squirrly-2020) and Education Cloud 2020 can always help you come up with new plans. You don’t have to drown like your competitors.

You got this!