Inc. June 2020 / by BY Gabrielle Bienasz / Read original article

Big Ass Fans Founder Carey Smith built a $500 million company straight through the Great Recession. Here’s how.

It’s the entrepreneurial way to remain optimistic and find unique opportunities. That’s according to Big Ass Fans founder Carey Smith, who spoke at Inc.‘s Real Talk: Business Reboot streaming event on how to get your business through a downturn and remain positive in difficult times. “Don’t be a victim,” he advises.

Smith founded his company (which sells large fans) in 1999, and landed it on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies 11 times, from 2007 to 2017. Smith grew Big Ass Fans into a multimillion-dollar enterprise through the heart of the 2008 downturn and ultimately sold it in 2017 for $500 million. Here’s his advice for how to push your business through an economic crisis.

Avoid layoffs

In the second quarter of 2008, when Smith says his team first saw indicators a recession was setting in, his first decision was that he would cut his own salary before firing any employees. Smith says reducing payroll is one of the easiest things in the world to do to cut costs, but it’s difficult to hire people back, and the long-term success of your business depends on finding other ways to make up for lost revenue.

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