When discussing the current condition of the U.S. economy, we hear experts talking about recovery shapes. For example, there is the “V” shaped recovery, which is where the economy bounces back quickly after a recession. The 1990-91 recession is a good example of a V-shaped recovery, as was the one in 2000-01.
You may have heard economists prophesy that we will experience a “U” shaped recovery. This is where economic recovery consists of anemic growth for an extended period before expansion. If we have had a U-shaped recovery in the U.S. it was probably the one that followed the 1974-75 recession, a period associated with the Arab oil embargo, the Jimmy Carter malaise, and a scourge called “stagflation,” a toxic confluence of slow growth and high inflation.
Then there is the dreaded “W” recovery, also referred to as the “double-dip.” Unless you’re in the ice cream business, a double-dip is not good. This economic scenario isn’t really a recovery at all, because not long after the initial recession is technically over, economic growth proves unsustainable and takes another dive producing back-to-back recessions. We experienced one of these in 1981 and 1983. It wasn’t pretty.
Traveling around the country talking with small business owners, the abiding topic of conversation is the economy and prospects for recovery on the way to economic expansion. Here is the question small business owners have asked me most often this year:
”If the recession is over, why doesn’t it feel more like things are getting better?”
The answer is this economy still has many financial toxins and structural challenges yet to be absorbed and cleansed by the marketplace ecosystem. During this healing process - which will take place over years, not quarters - we have to operate our businesses like we’re running a marathon, instead of a sprint. So, the Blasingame classification of the period following the Great Recession is an “M” recovery. ”M” stands for “marathon.”
Physical conditioning is required to complete a marathon race, but knowing when and how to expend energy comes from mental preparation. As you unlock the front door of your small business each morning, pace yourself and your organization for this marathon which, like the footrace, you cannot finish successfully if you run out of gas. Pacing means prudent application of capital, physical assets and human resources, plus minding your own psychological and physical well-being.
Remember, “M” stands for marathon - the shape of this recovery.
Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about this “pacing” attitude as we run this economic recovery race successfully. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen, and be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!