2016 has not been kind to our bank accounts.
As we lumbered back from our holidays, the Dow slapped us with a 1,400-point drop. China suddenly looked like an unhinged dragon. Oil slipped to below $30 a barrel - about the cost of buying 2 movie tickets to see Star Wars.
While the news headlines are quite scary, it's important not to let your emotions cloud your view of the future. I've worked in business news for 20 years and have already watched and reported on 3 global market crises. Let's hope we're not entering a fourth. Even so, there's several things to keep in mind that will help keep you calm.
1. We've been here before and we always bounce back. Consider this excerpt from a New York Times article:
Executives [in Silicon Valley] say that the slump in stock prices, especially if it is prolonged, could disrupt the formation and growth of young companies that often pioneer in devising the latest technology.
Written just a few weeks ago? Nope. How about published October 25, 1987, days after Black Monday, one of the worst crashes in stock market history. People in tech were fretting that successful companies would never IPO and that some would run out of cash. Some did but others thrived, including a company called Apple that listed publicly 7 years before. History repeats itself and while we may not always learn past lessons, we know that what goes down always inevitably goes back up.
2. Crises tend to make businesses more disciplined-and that's a good thing. Alan Patricof, one of the founders of the modern venture capital market, frets there's an entrepreneurial bubble right now.
"We're seeing in New York something like 75 to 80 new deals a week and in our Los Angeles office in Greycroft, we see probably 30 to 40 a week," he said in the latest episode of my podcast, Radiate. "And we're just one firm...what amazes me is when we share with some of these other firms what their flow is, the duplication is so small."
All these companies won't get funding, Patricof says, and even if they do get an initial angel round, many of them won't be able to raise the next round of funding.
Like other investors, Patricof predicts many of these new businesses will have to prove they can generate revenue and profit a lot earlier than before to get new money. And that means entrepreneurs will have to be much more disciplined in making sure their business models work, especially in tough times.
3. Some companies thrive in a recession. While very few people say a recession is around the corner, economists are throwing around the "R" word a little more frequently these days. That doesn't spell bad news for all companies. In fact, some companies thrive in a recession. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters did amazingly well during the last recession-Americans still wanted their cup of gourmet coffee but opted to do it at home instead. Other products like laundry detergent and Monster energy drinks also sold well. A great Bloomberg article describes how companies who made life easier for people or found innovative ways to keep costs down outperformed during a downturn.
So while you might be worried watching stock markets tumble, remember this saying from Warren Buffett: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." In other words, don't follow the pack. Take it from someone who's seen more crises than almost any of us.
If you like this article, you'll love my new podcast, Radiate, featuring interviews with CEOs, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. You can click on new episodes on iTunes, SoundCloud or on my website. www.betty-liu.com. Here is the RSS feed too. And please don't forget to REVIEW the podcast or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.