How to thrive in a recession as a food business

Let’s talk about the current elephant in the room, the R-word. Recession.

I co-founded my last business right in the middle of the 2008 recession. At the time, we looked at the challenging environment as a benefit, because it opened up opportunities we would otherwise not have had access to.

Warren Buffet has famously stated that “you’ll only see who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out” and for as long as you don’t get caught out that way, recessions can be a great time to build successful and resilient businesses.

Protect yourself from the bad news frenzy

A few weeks from now, it’s extremely likely that the media will go into a bad news overdrive. The housing market will weaken, markets will be down, layoffs will be coming – this has already started happening in the more volatile industries like crypto, often with shamefully low regard for the humanity of the now ex-employees.

People will use the recession as an excuse to try and negotiate terms with you, to tell you your prices are too high, to delay making decisions. It will be easy to start doubting yourself and your business.

Here’s what you need to get right

The truth is that recessions can be a great time to launch disruptive products, create innovative services, hire amazing people and generally punch well above your weight.

But you need to make sure that you’re 100% clear about the value you create and that you stay laser-focused on this.

We call this “what are you really selling?” and we think this is so important that we make a “what are you really selling?” session mandatory for all new clients we onboard.

Note: If you’d like to learn more about these, and why they are so essential for business success, just send us an email.

A checklist for not survival, but thriving

  • Know what consumer problems you’re solving. Communicate this relentlessly, in your marketing, on your packaging. Shout it from the rooftops and never deviate from your messaging. (Side note: businesses tend to get bored of consistent messaging. But consumers rely on it.)
  • Fight the temptation to panic and worry. Keep a cool head and focus on the value you are creating for your customers. Communicate this to buyers, brokers, and end-users.
  • Review your marketing and make sure that your messaging resonates with a down market. Don’t be tone-deaf.
  • Keep an eye open for opportunities for your business. A down market means more available capacity. Perhaps now is the time to ink a deal with a supplier or co-packer that was out of reach when the competition was fierce.
  • Are you a vitamin (nice to have) or a pain killer (must have now)What can you do to move your product and positioning into the latter category?

Other articles you may find useful

Learn with us, grow with us, launch with us - subscribe to our newsletter

We send one newsletter per week, containing two food trend signals and one in-depth analysis.

No selling, no spam and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Learn with us, grow with us, launch with us

We share what we know about launching a successful food business. No selling, no spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.