Don't quit Featured

5:22am EDT April 29, 2003
Pam Selker Rak maintains a positive outlook on business, even during times when things don't look like they're going so well.

Maybe it's because Rak, president of Communitech, a marketing communications firm that serves mostly technology related clients, is the latest in a line of women entrepreneurs who haven't allowed the distractions or disappointments of the present to get in the way of their vision for the future.

Rak's grandmother came from Sicily in the early part of the last century as a child, and at age 35, opened a grocery store during the Great Depression.

One day, when things weren't going so well, a customer gave Rak's grandmother a short poem whose message was simply, "Don't quit." She didn't, and she prospered, eventually opening a Dairy Queen franchise and a restaurant.

Rak's mother, another entrepreneur who refused to allow the gloom of her times to blunt her resolve, opened her own business in the days of stagflation of the 1970s. She kept the poem close by, both literally and figuratively, and passed it on to Rak.

Rak hasn't given up on her business, either. Her response to the most recent economic slump has been to increase, not decrease, her marketing efforts, even when it looked as though revenue might level off or even drop.

"It was painfully difficult; it wasn't easy," Rak says of pouring more into marketing efforts for her firm when the tech bubble was deflating and the economy appeared about to deep-six.

The strategy has worked, however, Rak claims, with first quarter revenue in 2003 up 88 percent over the same quarter last year. Not too shabby in a good economy, let alone in the midst of a shaky one.

There are two lessons here. First, hang in there, because conditions will improve, and when they do, you'll be there to take advantage of better times. Second, when you might feel inclined to back off the marketing throttle, that may very well be the time to rev it up.

After all, as Rak points out, if your competitors are pulling back, here's your chance to get in front of them without a lot of clutter to obscure and confuse your message.

Even if they're not buying today, they will be eventually. And when they do, you'll be more likely top of mind with them. All because you didn't quit.