Lessons learned from the recession

August 1, 2011

Back in February, 2011, I was asked to participate in the Business Leaders Book Club. My first task was to write a chapter for the first book in the series: Lessons Learned From the Recession. Out of all the contributions, the editors, Dr. Richard Norris and Mark Stephens, chose 60 to compile into an e-book. By May, 2011, this new e-book, published by F10 Engineering Ltd., was available to download for free.

Seeing the actual e-book online for the first time was quite exciting. I quickly scanned the table of contents to find my chapter, titled “The Climate on the Inside Overcomes the Climate on the Outside.” Even though I had written this chapter, and re-read it numerous times through the editing process, I still eagerly read it yet again. There’s nothing like seeing one’s words in print for the first time.

The process to contribute to this project was reasonably painless, at least for me. I’m sure the editors and the supporting staff at F10 Engineering Ltd. would say otherwise! Mark and Richard worked tirelessly with the authors to ensure our chapters reflected the intent of the project. Their task of ensuring that the voices of the chapters were consistent throughout the e-book would have been no small feat, considering the authors came from a wide range of backgrounds and expertise.

The supporting staff helped us, as authors, to promote the e-book, providing us with appropriate marketing materials. We were even given a code to allow our friends and families to receive a discount on paperback copies of the e-book, for those that would prefer a hard copy. As authors, we are also able to obtain our own hard copies of the e-book, which we are in the process of ordering. All of this work – the promotion and marketing, the formatting and editing, the publishing of hard copies – fell to the two editors and the supporting staff of F10 Engineering Ltd.

The e-book continues to be free because of this support from F10 Engineering Ltd. All they ask is that individuals wanting a copy of the e-book sign up for a free account on their website, “Ask the Experts.” By having an account with “Ask the Experts,” members are eligible to access a community of business leaders and participate in a variety of forums dedicated to a wide range of business needs and interests.

Following is the introduction I wrote for my chapter. If you want to read the full version of my chapter, and to access the wisdom and expertise of 59 other business leaders, see the end of this blog for the link to this free e-book. Email me at lemonaidelife@gmail.com for details on how to purchase a hard copy of the e-book.

(From Urquhart, M. (2011). The Climate on the Inside Overcomes the Climate on the Outside. In Dr. R. Norris and M. Stephens (Eds.), The Business Leaders Book Club Series One: Lessons Learned From the Recession (p. 170).  UK: F10 Engineering Ltd.)

“At the time of this latest recession, I had been working for a non- profit educational organisation. Recessions are good for educational organisations; it’s the bull markets that they have to guard themselves against.

Instead, knowing that most of the small family-run businesses within my community in northern Canada remained in operation throughout the recession, I approached the one that I knew would be able to provide advice on how to stay afloat throughout the various economic throes.

Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada, serves a vast geographical region because, even though it only has a population of slightly more than 7,000 people (according to the 2009 census), it is the largest centre for 275 kilometres in any direction. The major industries in the region are oil, gas and forestry, with the forestry industry being hit the hardest in this most recent recession.

Joyce Robinson has seen her business, The Business Factory, grow dramatically over the past 19 years. In the beginning, she partnered with another individual to offer bookkeeping and secretarial services to the region. Then in 2002, Joyce bought her partner out and became a limited corporation. At the same time, she and her husband took over a local printing business amalgamating that service into their offerings. Joyce ran the business services while her husband, Doug, ran the printing business. Both aspects of the business were conducted in separate locations.

In 2005, they purchased and moved into one building, right on main street. By this time, the town had a population of over 6,000 people. Shortly after moving, they incorporated promotional items into their profile.

By 2007, the town’s population reached an all-time high of over 7,000 residents. The Business Factory was booming. Since adding the promotional items in 2005, Joyce’s annual revenue had increased by 25% each year. As a result, from 2005-2009, the staff increased from three to nine. Then the recession hit.”

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