How to Survive a Recession As a Small Business: Three Ways We Made It Through (And You Can, Too!)

Older than the Declaration of Independence, legendary soap and skincare company Caswell-Massey turned 268 this year. Coca-Cola was incorporated 128 years ago. The Walt Disney company hits the centennial mark in 2023. These iconic big businesses are still going strong after 10 decades or more, despite multiple economic downturns. 

But how does a small business like Square Deal Mattress Factory weather the same financial storms?

Answer: We’re scrappy.  This year, we celebrate 100 years in business thanks to a few key business practices even the larger companies could follow during uncertain times. We hope you find them helpful in navigating  your own choppy waters.

The Great Depression

Practice #1: Get resourceful: find new ways to reuse existing products instead of buying new.

In 1932, the world was three years into the Great Depression. Millions were unemployed, and thousands of businesses were shutting their doors forever. But our great-grandfather Ennis Rife wasn’t ready to give up. In those days, mattresses were hand-stitched and buttoned, and most people bought mattresses for life. Ennis and his family kept things afloat by repurposing fluffing and ticking materials to stuff the mattresses. When buttons were in short supply, they traded candy for any spare buttons neighborhood kids brought in. 

Survival Tip: Look for ways to repurpose existing resources. Get creative and don’t shy away from tried-and-true methods. 


2008 Recession

Practice #2: Hibernate: find ways to reduce expenses when income goes down.

In 2008, the world suffered a massive financial and economic downturn, often called the Great Recession. When the housing market crashed, unemployment went up, savings evaporated, and people stopped spending wherever possible—especially on retail. Square Deal hunkered down to ride out the storm. By consolidating deliveries, personnel, and samples, we pinched enough pennies to keep lights on until the crisis passed.

Survival Tip: Think long-term. Recessions will end: what can you do to ride it out until the end? Evaluate where you can cut costs and reduce or consolidate spending.


COVID-19 Pandemic

Practice #3: Get innovative: find new opportunities to deliver the same great product

There are no strangers to the 2020 pandemic, with small businesses hit the hardest. Since March, we’ve pivoted to increase wholesale business and move more of our products online. Most importantly, we’ve put significant time and resources into connecting with you—our customers.

Survival Tip: Innovate around your why. Meet your customer where they are at. What’s at the heart of your business? Get back to your roots and figure out how you can innovate while remaining true to your product or service. 

The world has been through a lot in the last 100 years, 100 months, 100 days—But with a little gumption, a lot of integrity, and a bucketload of creativity, it’s possible to make it. We have no doubt you’ll thrive through whatever comes your way!

Related Posts