What We Can Learn From The 2008 Recession

by | Apr 17, 2020 | Blog

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    Ok, a lot of us are freaking out right now. And for good reason. We’re in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic, the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lifetime. We’re stuck in our houses trying to navigate working remotely, homeschooling our children, and generally keeping our sanity. And, on top of everything, most of us are worried about the effect this pandemic will have on the economy. More specifically, we’re worried about whether we’re going to have a job in the near future.
    With more than 20 million people filing unemployment in the last couple of weeks, those fears are not unfounded. But I want to help offer another perspective.
    I’m not going to pretend that you’ll be “just fine” or that you won’t go through hard times. Many people will lose their jobs, have to downsize, and deal with the uncomfortable realities of economic scarcity. But this uncomfortable reality may just be the gentle (or not-so-gentle) push you need from the universe to follow your dreams.
    I say this not from a “look at the bright side” kind of viewpoint but rather from looking at history.
    Our current social and economic climate is very reminiscent of another period in history: The 2008 recession. And while it’s hard to remember in the thick of a difficult period, the 2008 recession–just like every other recession–brought about new innovation and created whole new industries.
    Here are some amazing ‘08 recession stories that prove that we can weather another storm.
    Examples from Past Podcast Guests:
    On this podcast, we have been fortunate enough to learn from the many examples of people who lost their jobs or businesses in the 2008 recession and were able to turn that tragedy into the blessing they needed.
    Janelle Copeland had a successful career in leadership and management roles at large retailers such as Circuit City, AT&T, and Best Buy. Unfortunately, in 2008, both Janelle and her husband were laid off from their lucrative 6-figure jobs. After having to file bankruptcy, she began baking to fill her time. Her hobby quickly grew from an in-home bakery to a full-fledged business, which she founded with her husband’s ex-wife (Crazy story! I know!). And The Cake Mamas was born.
    Their popularity soared and they began taking in over $10k a month in revenue from their in-home business. They opened up a brick-and-mortar shop that Janelle has run for over 10 years now. She has been featured on the Food Network a number of times, even winning the cupcake wars, and has created an incredible brand. She has gone on to start a podcast with her husband and mentors other fledgling entrepreneurs who want to launch their dream careers.
    Her entire business and career were born out of the painful experience of losing so much.
    Steve quit his 6-figure job as an engineer to become a real estate agent in 2007. I don’t have to tell you that his business was affected in 2008 when the entire housing market collapsed. At one point, Steve went back to his old boss to see if he could get his engineering job back but was told there were no openings because of the recession.
    Steve talks to us all about what it was like to push through even though no one was buying homes at that time. But push through he did and Steve has now created a real estate empire! He has a brokerage with more than 50 realtors, his brokerage sells hundreds of homes a year, he hosts one of the top-rated real estate podcasts, he is a sought-after real estate coach, and he has become a millionaire by teaching other people how to become millionaires! Imagine if he would’ve quit in 2008 because the going got tough!
    Paula’s story is a bit different because she didn’t actually get laid off from her job at a local newspaper in 2008. Rather she quit. She wanted to travel the world while working remotely as a freelance writer. And let’s recall that the whole nomadic remote working wasn’t a thing yet in 2008.
    As you can probably guess, her well-meaning family and friends thought she was crazy. They told her that she’d never find another job because of the economy. And they were right. She never found another job because she built her empire with Afford Anything–a community that helps people become financially independent. She has a top-rated podcast, she owns several rental properties, and she teaches others how to do the same. She has created an incredible business by ignoring what the majority told her.
    Erin lost her 6-figure legal job in 2009, at a time when other law firms weren’t hiring. While most people were stuck in fear and panic, Erin decided that there was no better time to use her entire life-savings to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant.
    With no experience running a restaurant, Erin focused on her passion for cooking and bringing people together to enjoy the best food on earth: Mac and Cheese. Erin opened Homeroom and has grown it to over 100 employees, with features in the NY Times, Washington Post, Food Network and Travel Channel.
    While Lindsey didn’t get fired during the 2008 recession, it opened her eyes to the truth that “security” and “stability” are an illusion. She realized that she could end up risking it all doing something she didn’t love so why wouldn’t she take a chance to build something she actually did love.
    That recession prompted Lindsey to start her entrepreneurial journey as a side hustle. Since then she has gone on to build 2 successful businesses. She’s now the leader of Powerhouse Women, a yearly live event and community for women entrepreneurs. She’s increased her income while also increasing her impact all because she chose to take the fear of the recession and use it as her fuel.
    Other Business Innovations
    Recessions also provide the perfect opportunity to disrupt industries and innovate on what’s not working. Here are some companies that were founded out of the 2008 recession.

    Andrew Mason founded Groupon in mid-2008. His business model connected businesses with consumers through incentives and coupons. Groupon provided reasonable options for individuals slowly beginning to “buy into fun” again. It also served as a cheap yet effective marketing tool for businesses.

    With the need for cheaper short-term rentals, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia – later joined by Nathan Blecharczyk – founded Airbnb in August 2008. In their early days, they couldn’t get any investors and had maxed out their credit cards to stay afloat. The founders started selling cereal boxes–a marketing tactic–to raise enough money to keep going. We all know where this story went from here.
    Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp started Uber in 2009 after they couldn’t get a taxi on a cold night in Paris. It was at the beginning of the Great Recession when investment was still hard to secure. But the founders saw the need for a cheaper, more readily-available ride-sharing platform.
    Uber is now valued at over $47 billion
    All of these stories are inspiring in their own right, but they all have one thing in common. The individuals in them actively sought out opportunities. They isolated the gaps and the needs in the recession and filled them.
    It’s easy to regress and focus on negativity during stressful times. And you may have to stop the gaps in the short-term. But always be thinking of the long-term game. This won’t last. Focus on the aspects of life you can control and remember that you’re capable of creating incredible things.