McCadden: Recession Alert—What Will Happen to Your Business?

by Emily Blackburn
Shawn Headshot Accountant

Many warned you (including me), and now it’s happening. Are you and your business ready for this next recession? Fortunately, we already know it’s coming. Many believe it’s already started. I believe economic conditions will get very bad, perhaps worse than any of us have seen during our lifetime. Will you let the recession destroy your business and your savings, or will yours be one of the few remodeling businesses that finds a creative way to remain profitable and maybe even grow during the challenging times to come?

Hopefully you saved money during the recent economic boom. You should have. If you did, you might have enough reserve funds to help you weather the storm. Additionally, that money can be used to strategically address and even take advantage of the new realities that will result from any coming recession. So, what will happen to you and your business? The choice of what to do is all yours. 

It will be easy to blame the recession if your business fails, and all your retirement funds get depleted. The hard part may be admitting you let it happen. 

3 Types of Remodeling Business Owners

Baseball great Tommy Lasorda once shared this quote: “There are three types of baseball players: those who make things happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” The same can be said of remodeling business owners. So, which of these three best describes you? Let’s explore them in reverse order, so you can self-identify.

1. Those Who Wonder What Happens

Lasorda’s quote is in the present tense. Is that you now? Are you simply wondering what is happening but are doing nothing to figure out how your business will be affected and what you will need to do to get ready? For those of you who think you make money simply doing the physical work part of this business: Be warned. While your head is in the sand pounding nails and chasing two-by-fours, you’ll be oblivious to your eventual fate. Then, at some point, someone or something will eventually wake you up to the realities of what has already happened to you and your business. At that point you will move from the present tense of wondering what will happen to the past tense: those wondering what happened. In other words, you’ll probably be surprised your ship is sinking after it’s too late to start bailing water.

2. Those Who Watch It Happen

Some business owners know what is happening around them. And yet they will simply stand by and watch the economy and their businesses crash and burn around them. Many do this because they freeze up, not knowing what to do. This might be due to a lack confidence to act. Another group will stand by and watch because they lack reserve funds available to invest in addressing the challenges or opportunities that will eventually surface. Trust me, doing the same things you have always done, in the same ways you have always done them, will not work during the coming new realities. Expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity. 

Working harder and longer hours probably won’t help much either. If you identify as this type of business owner, there is good and bad news. The bad news is remaining in this mentality is risky. If the recession is short-lived, you might survive long enough to recover. However, as I said earlier, I believe this recession could be deep, maybe even for a long time. The good news could be that because you already have the character traits and willingness to work hard and put in long hours, you will have the energy and stamina needed to work through the challenges. If this is you, watch for what is happening, but do so with the intent and conviction you’ll do something about what you learn through your observations. If you observe what the problems are, but don’t know what to do, seek out someone to help you. Someone like the business owners I describe next.

3. Those Who Make Things Happen

Ever notice that regardless of how challenging things can get, there is always a small handful of people or businesses who just seem to thrive no matter what gets thrown their way? These people are what I came to know as “positive deviants.” These are people whose uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers. The key is that they do so despite facing similar challenges and having no extra resources or knowledge than their peers. Simply put, they deviate from what others consider normal or acceptable, in a very effective and positive way, even when people around them question or mock their efforts. 

You don’t need to be a positive deviant to take advantage of this recession. You just need to figure out who they are and then either mimic their strategies or find a way to get them to share their wisdom with you. Be careful, though, before you assume someone is a positive deviant. There could be a lot of hair-brained ideas being tested out there. And, fact is, many remodeling businesses fail. The good thing is positive deviants already have a track record of success. So, before you jump onto the next great idea to help your business address the things that will surely happen, make sure you already know their track record or get a referral from someone who does.

I’ll wrap this up in two ways. First, by reminding you that whether your business dies, treads water or thrives during this recession, it is really up to you. The second way is with another carefully selected quote, this one from fashion designer Coco Chanel: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at

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