Today isn't a great day if you bought into a crypto-currency. Bitcoin, which has been called a dangerous scam, Ripple, which made its CEO briefly the next Mark Zuckerberg, and even smaller Altcoins like Cardano and Stellar are being pummeled for reasons that nobody can quite put their finger on. I (personally) have invested in these, and watched what I thought were savvy calls circle the drain. Nevertheless, it also made me reflect on how I've run my own business (and seen others run theirs) during multiple financial crashes and simply bad times in the economy. And there's something we can learn.

Build, Even During Good Times, For A Failure

One of the smarter bits of advice I ever received was simple gambling advice - bankroll so that if you end up losing a few hands in a row that you don't flip out and act emotionally. The same goes for investment - be prepared to lose every cent you invest, even if you're relatively sure you won't, because it'll mean that a crash won't bury you. In business, I've found this comes down to building a lean company, one with stable costs and with decisions that take place tuned not to either a direct increase in profit and/or prepared to suffer a massive revenue drop. In the PR industry, I've seen this mostly manifest in how fast one scales and where - there's no need to have an office of 15 people if it's simply to make you feel like you have a big company. If it's not growing along with who you're hiring, that big, bad failure-day will get people fired.

Weather The Storm

While a VICE article discovered the crypto-currency mantra of "HODLing" referred to a post from someone a few sheets to the wind, the general investment strategy of thinking more than a week or two in advance is sound. It's also great advice in business. One month, back in November 2016, I faced a huge shift in my business - a bad conflux of expiring contracts, customers moving on and economic panic that made me feel like a bug hitting a windshield. I actually felt very much like giving up, or at least simplifying my business to the point that there was less to worry about. My father told me simply that there will always be a time when this happens to you past a certain level of scale. No matter how great your business is, there will always be a point where you're hit so hard and so fast that you will be tested. Perhaps it's not as simple as not selling off an investment - it may be a case where you decide to rush to fire someone who's underperformed recently, or shut down a location. I advise taking a deep breath and setting a timeline - a review in 3 months, for example. 

Don't Put Your Eggs In One Basket

As I said, I spread out my investments. Now, today that just means that everything I invested is currently worth a lot less. This may suck, but having a diverse client base and offering means that you will, if part of an industry begins to go down the drain (EG: PR for ICOs may have a serious problem coming up - and the bottom has dropped out of crowdfunding projects) you won't see your business drop painfully and dramatically. This may mean that you spend time finding new sectors to get interested in your business, or cut down on what has been a reliable revenue stream. However, doubling down on something can actually turn out to be an unprofitable long-term strategy - reflect deeply on whether a client or industry has long-term stability or interest.

Published on: Jan 16, 2018