August 21, 2009
In Search of the Recession: One Small Business Owners Quest for R&R (Relaxation and Recession)
By Victor Mataraso, M.B.A.
This summer I went on a quest of sorts. In truth, the initial idea was to take a cross-country summer vacation with my family. However, being the ever vigilant multi-tasker, my trip soon evolved into a multi-pronged mission that looked something like this: Spend quality time with the family, seek out expansion opportunities for my business and assess the state of the economy in America first-hand in the summer of 2009.
Living and running a business in the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems we are often subject to the mixed blessing of rising faster and higher during the good times, and falling further and harder during the bad. This certainly seemed to apply to our real-estate market among other things, but it was not consistent with my experience doing business locally. Sure, there are certain segments of our economy that are struggling, and some serious pain for families suffering layoffs. However, among the entrepreneurs and small business owners I have encountered, most have resolved themselves that business must go on and many are finding creative ways to conduct theirs. I wanted to see if this was the case as we worked our way across the country.
Our chosen method of transportation was an older model, semi-reliable, borrowed RV. Taking a northern route to avoid the summer heat, we left our home in Walnut Creek, CA and headed North to Portland, OR. We visited my wife’s brother and his family there. He had worked for years in the mortgage industry of all things and had, in-fact, recently been laid off when his company closed his division. We were curious to see how this development had impacted their lifestyle.