You would think every business has to suffer during a recession. Especially a business involved in recreational sports. Parents cling tighter to their dollars, cutting off any non-essentials. That’s why during the stock market crash of September 29th, 2008, we became quite nervous at i9 Sports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777 points, the largest point drop in any single day in history. Unemployment was at 6 to 7 percent, with talk of it possibly rising to 10 percent. The real estate market had plummeted, with foreclosures running rampant due to greedy Wall Street investors and banks giving away subprime-rate adjustable mortgages to people who couldn’t afford a mortgage once the rate went up. The Dow then continued falling, from 10,300 to 8,000 points in a matter of a few weeks, with talk that it might bottom out at 5,500.
How could this be? It seemed as though everything was great one day and then Armageddon the next. With 401(k)s decimated and people losing their jobs, our franchisees were just as tense. Would parents still have the money to register their kids to play in i9 programs? Would people still buy franchises? As the leader of our company, I knew it was my job to remain calm and in charge, but this was the first time that I had ever dealt with economic forces out of my control.
At i9, to steady everyone, our message to franchisees was that we were choosing not to participate in the recession. We would take responsibility for our own results. So rather than blaming the recession on whomever might be the president of the United States or some government policy, I—unlike so many others—believed that our company’s success or failure was based on our own decisions and execution of initiatives or lack thereof. We would be in control of our destiny. We focused on the profitability of existing franchisees more than ever.
Incredibly, from a consumer standpoint, i9 was like Teflon to the recession! Moms and dads continued to register at double-digit growth, and because we had about 110 franchisees in our system, we had enough critical mass in royalties to more than just survive. While the jury was still out about whether we would continue to sell franchises at a record clip, our revenues were soaring for the time being, which kept our franchisees happy and me confident that we would come out of the recession stronger than we had gone into it.
It’s easy to fall victim to circumstance, and sometimes there’s really nothing you can do. But most of the time, there’s tremendous power in taking responsibility regardless of how conditions may feel. Only your own decisions or lack thereof will determine your destiny when you are facing forces beyond your control.
Have you ever wondered how it REALLY feels to make it as an entrepreneur?
In Frank’s book, Running With My Head Down, he shares the inside story of how he built i9 Sports from the ground up. It’s a story of perseverance and constant evolution – both for him personally and his business. Frank is grateful that he found and followed his purpose, and his hope is that his story can ignite a spark inside you to find the courage to do the same.