A Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Recession

Eight years ago, aged 35 with 3 children under the age of 8 my husband and I lost £800,000 through our business. The Ecommerce world had crashed and it was time to re-evaluate our lives, our business and our values.


I can now say, without any hesitation at all that loss was the best thing that ever happened to me. I remember lying in bed, pre- the floatation of our business saying to my husband, ‘what have we really contributed that makes us potentially worth £22 million pounds if the business floats?”, the fact is at this stage in our lives we hadn’t contributed enough in reality and the ecommerce correction made sure that we didn’t receive the money.


So what did we do to survive and enable our business to remain, adapt and in the end flourish into what is now a very successful, highly contributing business in over 200 countries. What did we do, most importantly, to make sure that our family was OK?


The first thing we did was assess and appreciate what really mattered in our lives and make sure that those things did survive. For us it was our marriage, our family and our children’s education. In the end we lost our house, but we maintained our marriage, our relationships with our children, our sanity and we have, so far, kept them at their schools. While building my business with my husband I have also worked in many ways to ensure we can feed our kids. I have worked on reception for a hairdressers for a period of time and worked at our boys school, helping as a Girl Friday, any job needing doing was done by me, in the kitchen, driving the mini-bus, selling school uniform and publishing the school magazine. I have loved it all.


During serious financial adversity I have learnt a great deal about the values of those that have money and those that don’t. What I learnt is that all humans’ need self esteem and a sense of belonging, those with money buy it, those without, have real friends.


The bubble of money that many have lived in has been unreal. Living amongst it and being very transparent with my life has been shocking for many of my friends to hear but what I have as a person is a real sense of me, what I value and what matters to me, I am afraid that many people don’t or at least they are afraid to express it openly.


Money buys you self esteem for a short time, affording that expensive coat, handbag or dress, makes you feel good for a while. Going to the theatre in London and expensive restaurants, may give you a sense of belonging, but to what?


Friendship provides self esteem and friendship gives you a sense of belonging. To know who your friends are, you must not be afraid to say “I buy my clothes from Primark, or “I can’t afford the theatre, let’s go to the cinema”. It takes guts to do this, but the totally amazing thing is that once you do, the truth comes out from everyone else and then you can help and support one another from a set of values and a point of truth.


I have always said that emotional wealth leads to financial wealth, that is the mission and mantra of Ecademy, my business. Being able to live in a community where being you is ENOUGH creates self worth, happiness and attracts people toward you for the real reasons.


I loved the film ‘Pay It forward’ and after last night with my two friends, when we talked about their lives, I feel I gave them permission to be themselves. So now, I would like to say to all those ladies out there, “you have permission to be scared, to be vulnerable and to be you, because you, the real you is so, so much nicer than the pretend you”.


The world is in a re-boot, a ctl, alt, dlt, and I am loving it, with adversity comes humility and humbleness, a real set of values emerge that will make this a better world for our kids. Our kids already know this, they know how to be themselves and there is a lot we can learn from them.


Will all those who are losing their jobs now and the millions that will loose them next year be able to get another job? I am afraid they won’t, there is a major correction going on and new opportunities will emerge. I call these people “Corporate Refugees”. Those that leave their jobs will have a major adjustment before they realise that they are still a worth while person, this will be painful but it is all possible.


When working for a company your brand is that company, you have skills that they value and the exchange for your skills is money. In effect, we are all self employed, but you just have one client when you are ‘employed’. Re-inventing yourself will happen once you understand what you contribute and how that can be transferred to many clients rather than to just one.


The technology and the philosophies that live inside Social Networks will help people get through the isolation of being at home, while the re-build their shattered lives, these online networks will provide the sense of belonging and once people dive into this world and contribute to others, their self esteem and self worth will come back.


At these difficult times there are two things to remember, firstly, the most ‘adaptable survive’ and secondly – ‘be yourself’, this is now your chance to be proud of who you are rather than what you have represented It is time to re-brand yourself and assess your life and allow your core values to emerge.




© Penny Power 2008