Don't freeze under the weight of what's happening  


With things moving so fast in the world and so much panic and despair around, it's easy to just freeze - "rabbit caught in the headlights" style. Don't. Just do small things - I believe that lots of small steps and quick actions are often better than trying to take on huge projects.

Here are a few small things to do - some trivial, some more profound. It doesn't matter - but do something:

Write a good blog entry
Find a great picture (and remember to tag it well) for your blog
Make comments in some blogs you like
Look at your products and do some (gentle) planning for enhancements this year
Take a look around the web at others in your field. What can you learn?
Be active today in a forum that's relevant to you
Offer some support or help to someone else running a creative business. In that awful cliche - "reach out".
Do that small bit of web site improvement that you've been putting off
If you have an online shop - settle down to list a few new things

If you freeze up, you can lay yourself open to longer term depression and inertia. So don't do it - instead remember that there are good aspects to this global financial stuff - some whole new ways of doing things and, I bet, some of the most exciting art, writing and design we've seen for years will emerge from this. Just make sure you're around to be part of it.

Creativity, genius and angst. And no angst!  


I can't claim to have read her best-seller, Eat, Pray, Love, though I may do now (if you've read it, do please tell me what you think). I also am not quite sure I agree with everything she says. But it's a fascinating talk.

Oh - one tip - it begins with some overly loud music, you might want to turn down your volume control to start off with.

A small follow-up about pricing  


As the recession bites, take a minute now to consider if you can be all things to all customers. Can you really sell at the retail prices that will keep your distributors happy AND give your direct retail customers a good deal? After all, one of the advantages you have as a small company is that you do not have to do a 1 to 8 or 1 to 10 cost/price ratio, as all the "biggies" must. You can sell for a price that makes your goods far better value - and in the current climate, that counts more than ever.

We solve this dilemma by setting our recommended retail prices higher - for distributors - and giving our direct customers a deep discount. It's one way and seems about as fair as anything can be. But is it the time to consider other ways? Look at your customers, your distribution and your prices (and, as ever, costs) and see what's really working and what needs to be changed.

If you can provide value that's way better than the corporates can - whether because of individualism, innovation, price or a bit of all three - don't hang back, now's the time to make this happen.

Own the whole process, not just the tail end of it.  


Manufacturing and producing have been SO declasse in the past couple of decades. Businesses were supposed to do anything but actually make tangible things.

But - right now, if you control the whole process, from design to manufacture to retail it gives you a huge advantage.

As I've pointed out, it allows you to change things quickly - we have very definitely altered the range planned for this year in response to the recession and we were able to arrange this in months, not years. It also lets you have far more control over prices - we know that if times get really tough, we are not stuck with the prices coming from a wholesaler, we can find ways of bringing down manufacturing costs and passing this on.

If you can control the entire supply chain process, or at least a good chunk of it, it will give you many advantages of flexibility and responsiveness. Okay, manufacturing is, as one of our customers said to me recently, "tough" and the feasibility does depend a great deal on the field you are in. But if you can take it on, whatever you do, it will help you become much more recession proof.