LearnEmployees, Freelancers and Entrepreneurs – How to recession-proof yourself

Ryan Carson
writes on December 8, 2008

Last week I had to make the terrible decision to lay off three amazing people from the Carsonified Family. We really love and value Simon, Elliott and Dom, and it was very painful to have to let them go. We’re a tight knit group so it was tough on everyone – especially those who are having to leave. They’re talented, friendly and hard-working so I know that another company will snap them right up.

If you’re for an amazing developer, Elliott really kicks ass. If you’re trying to find someone who really understands the web industry and has amazing ideas, Simon is your man, and if you need someone who’s an expert in Mobile, just get in touch with Dom. We’re really sad to part ways with these guys – they kick ass.

So why did we do it?

We did it to make sure that Carsonified would make it through this recession. These weren’t emergency cuts. It was a pre-emptive decision that will give the company plenty of what Jason Calacanis calls ‘Runway’ – cash to see us through slow times.

What are you doing about the Recession?

Whether you’re a employee, freelancer or entrepreneur, you need to be thinking about several important issues right now. These tips should be followed at all times, but they’re especially important during an economic downturn.

Employees

1. Make sure you’re earning revenue for the company and covering your salary. As brutal as it sounds, the founders of the company are going to be looking at your salary versus the amount of revenue coming in and making a decision accordingly. If you’re not directly bringing in enough revenue to cover your salary, it’s going to be very hard for them to justify keeping you on board. If you aren’t currently covering your own salary, then make sure to be able to demonstrate that your revenue stream is increasing dramatically and you’ll soon be covering your salary and making a decent profit for the company.

2. Demonstrate that you have profit-generating ideas. Create and execute simple ideas that bring in profit for the company. These can be things like selling t-shirts or sending valuable leads to the sales team (make sure your boss knows you did this!).

3. Volunteer to do extra work. I’m not talking about kissing the founder’s ass. I’m talking about doing anything you can to help the company survive. The more you demonstrate that you’re committed to helping the company make it through the recession, the more valuable you’ll become.

Unfortunately, even if you’re working hard on the above three points, sadly there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your job. Sometimes your company just doesn’t have enough time to allow you to build up levels of revenue or value and they will have to make a tough decision. If you think this might be the case in your situation, it’s important to communicate early and often with your boss to ask whether your job is at risk and what you can do about it.

Entrepreneurs and Freelancers

1. Cut unnecessary costs. And I mean all of them. Here are some ideas:

– Sell the company car and ride a bike. I sold the company Audi A6 and now ride a bike to work – great for getting fit.
– Rent out desks in your office.
– Book your travel tickets way in advance to take advantage of early-bird offers.
– During business trips stay at a cheap B&B instead of in a hotel room.
– Learn how much your broadband, phone and electricity cost. Can you change providers to save money?
– Go through your P&L statement line by line and check all the figures. Any over-spending should be identified and cut.
– Double-check everyone’s credit card statements and get on top of any over-spending.

2. Get deadly serious about watching your cash flow. I’d recommend doing this every week, no matter how big your business. The most important thing is to plan on a decrease in your revenue of at least 20% with costs increasing by 5%. Make this a variable that you can change in one cell which then updates all your revenue forecasts.

3. Require 50% payment up-front from your customers and make sure this is in their contract. Don’t be a hard-ass (as they’ll just ignore you) but make sure you get paid early.

4. Diversify. At Carsonified we recently branched out into consultancy, marketing, design and development. We are pretty good at all these things but we previously only did them for our own products. As soon as we offered these services to other companies, we immediately created a new revenue stream.

5. As hard as it may be, it’s time to lay off staff who aren’t directly generating revenue. If you avoid doing this now, you might go out of business later which means you have to lay off everyone, which will be much, much worse.

6. Think hard about what sets you apart from your competitors. Why should your customers spend their hard-earned cash with you?

7. Take really good care of your big customers. We should take good care of all our customers, but make sure youre paying extra attention to the folks who do a lot of business with you. Ideas: Send them thankyou and birthday cards, call them, send them a personal gift and remember their partner’s or kids’ names.

Thoughts?

Times are tough but if you’re smart, you have a great chance of surviving. The key is to not stick your head in the stand – be proactive.

What are your tips for surviving the recession? Please share below.

151 Responses to “Employees, Freelancers and Entrepreneurs – How to recession-proof yourself”

  1. All nice ideas but badly framed within one blog post. I guess you realise by now that combining the personal, raw nature of the layoffs with a few business ideas was a mistake.

    The ’employee tips’ was especially sour – while good advice, it’s really up to the employer to keep the employees busy, creative and productive. Their creativity in terms of providing you with additional business won’t happen in a vacuum.

  2. We train ourselves to be more multi-skilled and thus able to cover more jobs. We use freelancers as and when required. Make our own lunches and have a coffee machine, instead of eating/ drinking out.

  3. Well all decisions need to be made. Well done for making them. Every cloud has a silver lining. Please ask all three ex employees to send their CV’s to me. info@continualsolutions.co.uk
    Too many people have too much time of their hands, Entrepreneurial people need to create sales not question every decision made in life. Every negative has a positive, just sometimes you need to open your eyes to find it!! Happy New Year!!

  4. Interesting and helpful post, keep em coming, thanks =-)

  5. Thanks for the smug replies. Still I ask you to remind me what the company even does?

  6. Ben McRae on December 18, 2008 at 2:42 am said:

    thanks for the great business advice! i am 19 years old(just finished college) and trying to progress into the web industry myself. business was off to a great start. sadly only after a couple of months in(bringing us to last month and now), i found that i was not making any progress due to a lack of clients and projects – the end of the beginning already :(. luckily after waiting out (working part time shifts in tesco to support myself – which mentally bores/kills/soul destorys me!), i have managed to pull back with a new client in the new year(good times right)! good luck anyway Carsonified, and for the other guys too! business is hard for everyone at this time of year, i think people should be more understanding of the decisions he had to make. im sure if he could afford to, he would have them back asap. good post anyway. im new to your work but i will be back to read other posts!

  7. Dang – Commentified for sure. My best to the three. Good luck guys.

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  9. Carsonified is saving tens of thousands of pounds by leting these staff members go at this tough time. We have no idea what troubles they are experiencing, or what future strategies they need the extra money for. Which isn’t any of our business really.

    This post by Ryan was for us to wish luck to the 3 team members, NOT to criticise the way Ryan does business.

    P.S. Ryan changing his Audi A6 WOULDNT save him tens of thousands would it, so chill out peeps.

    Good luck with the future Elliot, Simon & Dom.

    Good luck Ryan & all at Carsonified.

    – Neil

  10. John Hurst on December 12, 2008 at 9:20 am said:

    Davester, clearly you have never run a successful business or had to make people redundant hence the ignorence of your comment.

    For the majority of MDs an A6 is a modest vehicle so get over it.

    Davester, with comments like yours I wouldn’t be surprised if the Carsonified team stop allowing people to post without it being vetted.

  11. Remind me wtf this company actually does? Beyond buying its founder an Audi, I mean.

  12. Hi Ryan,

    I always follow your blog with interest. You make a great contribution to all startup entrepreneurs by being so open and honest. Thanks.

    From the sidelines I think you made the right moves, and I have had to do a similar thing in one of my businesses. As with you this was to avoid future problems way in advance, rather than in a panic because of hitting problems. And, as with you, the staff involved understood completely because they had been kept in the loop all the time, and appreciated the fact that because it happened so early the company could afford to give them really good payoffs etc.

    Any entrepreneur worth their salt should be really tightening their belt right now. The best entrepreneurs are good at recognising the brutal truth way before anyone else, and acting on it immediately. The worst ones pretend it will all be okay, pretend they’ll be millionaires this time next year Rodney, and then hit a brick wall in a messy way – with no payouts to staff, debts to suppliers etc. Deal with reality and do it early.

    Ryan, thanks for all your posts.

    cheers
    Steve

    PS. To those going ballistic about company cars, this blog post etc etc – please just chill out a little. There’s nothing unusual/wrong about that. It’s Ryan and Gill’s company.

  13. Dave Collin on December 11, 2008 at 1:09 pm said:

    I think I might like Ryan if I ever met him. However as other people have said here, to me, in his posts does often come across as a bit a plonker.

    To me it’s a bit like reading a poor version of “a dummys guide to running a business”. For those of you that think Carsonified can do no wrong I would just say that to anyone who is more rational and who looks at the evidence there are some big holes in the Carsonified Ryan spins to us.

    As others have said, we had no comment about the high staff turnover. More recently we heard that Carsonified was going to become a consultancy/design/dev company – well to me, that means I shan’t be going to any more of their conferences because I’d be indirectly financing my competitors.

    Also, they say they’re going to build web apps. Excuse me, but you just fired your developer so how will that work? If you had confidence in that idea wouldn’t you have kept him on.

    If Ryan was a successful businessman with a decent track record I feel I would take him more seriously but to be honest he comes across as someone looking out for any inch of publicity and not exactly in any position to give others advice on how to run a business or build a web application.

    I would, however, take advice from him on running conferences because they do this really well.

    Ideally, Ryan you should get someone who isn’t a sycophant to read your tips and just “reality check” them. You are after all, just a bloke who runs a small company; you have something to offer but lets face it dragons den aren’t exactly kicking down your door to get you to join them.

    As someone once said, stick to what you know.

  14. Sadly, I have to agree with the comment above.

    Whether it was Ryan’s intention or not, he comes across as a bit of a, what we English might call, plonker.

    Not once does Ryan admit to making a mistake or error of judgement. The “recession” is a poor excuse in my book, unless Carsonified have lost some of their very major revenue streams in the past month or so (in which case, “eggs in one basket lesson learned” would have made for better reading). Instead he gives us a poorly bulleted, narrowly scoped, idiots guide to running a business – honestly, was it really necessary to patronise us with regurgitated GCSE business? I actually feel even more dumber having read it. I urge people to take Ryans view(s) on employee:profit ratio with a pinch of salt as MOST web development companies don’t work like this – I’m a Project Manager, my wife is a Finance Manager – so according to Ryan, we should be made redundant.

    The crux for me is the way Ryan is naively trying to turn it into a positive – quite selfishly in my opinion. I think this will backfire mind you – “what goes around comes around” as they say!

    Ryans defense will be that “Carsonified like to be open and honest” but seriously – re-draw the privacy line before it kills you. How can you expect prospective clients to trust you?

    Fair play to the sacked individuals – they’ve taken it well and have shown a great deal of loyalty to Ryan. I don’t think they had anything to loose through the publishing of this article – but as someone above commented, employers might question their productivity, especially if they have read Ryan’s process of elimination.

    I don’t know Ryan, I’m sure he’s a very nice bloke at the weekend (as most of the positive comments suggest) – but everyone knows how business/money can change people. Ryan comes across as someones who wears his heart on his sleeve – which is great.

    So what’s next for Carsonified? How about a book titled “How not to run a business ‘Carsonified'”? I reckon it would sell quite well, given the PR this post has generated.

    If anything, this article is a warning to us all that private matters should remain just that.

  15. Before I get accused of being a hater, I’m not. I believe that you meant the best for the staff that you are making redundant, however I also think you’ve milked it for every bit of PR that you possibly could. How convenient Ryan that you wrote the post on the day tickets for FOWD went on sale (which btw the ticket system seemed to crash under).

    As for always being open – surely that’s just the things you choose to be open about? I don’t seem to remember you being as open when you had a high turnover of staff within a short period? To add to this, you’re even advising on how to reduce staff turnover – how can you be equipped for this advice when you’ve had high turnover?

    Evan – I take on your point that Ryan is human and everyone makes mistakes. The difference here is that Ryan never admits to his. Instead, he holds himself in this position of power advising to other people how they should run their businesses. One things for sure, I certainly wouldn’t be using him for consultancy.

    Take or leave my comments, I’m not calling you a bad person or Carsonified a bad place, but I think there are a number of things that don’t add up.

  16. I live in Bath like Ryan, and like Ryan I’m American and work on the internet too, so we have a lot in common. Except, sadly, I’m much older and grayer.

    I’ve come to know Ryan in recent years and to admire him. When I have been in need of advice or contacts he has always been more than generous with his time — and this contrasts with other high-profile people who are often too busy to stop and help out. Ryan is never too busy.

    I know how important it has been to Ryan to build a great culture at his company and I think he’s done that very successfully. I also know how much he values the principle of honesty and transparency of which this blog post is one example. I know how much it genuinely troubled Ryan to have to consider making these layoffs.

    In spite of Ryan’s high profile he is really running a small business. I run one too, and I understand how challenging the current economic climate can be. We all must think about sustainability and survival at a time when things are very unpredictable and uncertain. Ryan is no different.

    The difference between Ryan and many other people is that he has built his business in the public eye — blogging about it and sharing his highs and lows. That’s part of what makes Ryan who he is and why he has achieved his success.

    Ryan is only human and he will make mistakes as we all do. Because Ryan has been so public over time, it is of course much easier to catch him in seeming contradictions or inconsistencies. Anyone who chooses to be in the public eye will have to live with that. But knowing Ryan personally, I can say that his integrity is not even slightly in doubt.

    Evan

  17. “Ruthless” business people make hard decisions and stay in business. The non-ruthless ones end up as employees of the ruthless business people.

    In order to run a long-term business, you *must* make many decisions based on something other than what you “want” or “wish,” and that something is usually financial. This is the way the business world works, like it or not — throwing your bitterness about this reality at Ryan isn’t going to change the world, and it just makes you ranters look incredibly petty and short-sighted.

    As far as Ryan being guilty of not seeing today’s troubles several months ago, gee, I wish I had your magic 8 ball. I’m glad you all knew today’s financial headlines. I didn’t. Sure, we all saw signs of trouble, but we also saw some signs that showed the opposite. Nobody knows the future — you react as fast as possible, pay attention to the market conditions, but sometimes you’re going to invest when you should be saving or save when you should be investing. It sounds like Carsonified made the best *business* decisions they could, both with hiring and with firing. The entire Carsonified team (including the three folks now jobless) deserve a round of applause for facing reality and dealing with it rather than whining about it.

  18. I am amazed at the storm this has created. Harsh as it is, we must all remember that staff are a fixed cost and when revenues start to get hit you need to reduce fixed costs to ensure the survival of the business and therefore the majority of the jobs. If revenues can be maintained with reduced headcount, why would he not make this decision.

    Ryan, your comment “it’s time to lay off staff who aren’t directly generating revenue” is somewhat out of place. But, I think you know that and it has been commented on enough so far.

    It makes me laugh (Ryan, I am sure you aren’t laughing) when people become so judgemental about someone else’s business. Whilst I personally wouldn’t advertise the fact I have laid off staff, Ryan has explained his reasons.

    It is probably worth us all leaving this now and working on our own businesses to ensure it survives the crunch. Still loving the Carsonified brand and the culture you guys have.

  19. Well done for posting this Ryan – as shown by Elliott and Dom’s posts you have dealt with this in a way that looks after them as best as you can in this situation. This is going to be a tough year especially for small companies like ours, but those that are honest stand the best chance.

    If you needed and could afford a company car then I don’t see a problem with it – your advice that has been quoted was for businesses starting out and you guys had been around for a while.

    People just love to snatch an opportunity to bash up on those with success…..stop bashing, get on and run your own business. I hope you don’t have to make changes to survive the recession yourselves 😉

  20. Winnie M. on December 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm said:

    Stop calling people haters, he made the post and so wanted our opinions, which are not always going to be favorable.

    Its always good to look at both sides, and thats it. Two sides have been presented and we can learn from it, and use it in our own situations. We all know and love Carsonified at the end of the day and they bring rockin’ conferences for us all and thats what we will all think about.

    Timing of the post WAS bad. But ya, its over now, back to our lives.

  21. Wow, what a kerfufle.

    Now I worked for Ryan on the Future of Mobile event for six months and then was made redundant. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to get paid a wage to produce such a successful and important event for Carsonified, go look up the blog posts. I am very proud of the work I did on this.

    I don’t always agree with Ryan as I’m sure either of us will tell you. I do however have a huge amount of respect for the way he opens himself up and publicly talks about the difficult decisions he has to make a then action.

    Yes I am jobless a fortnight before Christmas, Ryan has ensured that I can pay my bills for the next couple of months whilst I sort out another revenue stream. This has been a very difficult time for Ryan and the team really have their work cut out for them in 2009 producing the next series of events with reduced manpower.
    I for one will look forward to making suggestions for next years Future of Mobile.

    The Audi everyone is getting upset about was a non ostentatious diesel model, nice, but hardly showy.

    The really important thing here is that Ryan has made a really tough decision to ensure the competitive edge of Carsonified next year. He had to do this. This blog post and the tweets have been of huge benefit to myself and have generated contact from industry luminaries who want to talk to me about mobile in 2009. I know that Simon and Elliott have a similar experience this week.

    Thank you Ryan for standing up and generating the shitstorm. Everyone’s a winner. See you for a coffee in January.

  22. Dave Kirk on December 9, 2008 at 10:31 am said:

    These decisions just seem like good business to me, hard as the decision must have been to make.

    I have read articles from many business people, Ryan Carson included, that have stressed the importance of being on top of your finances, understanding what is happening with them and acting before it is too late.

    This is exactly what has been done! Ryan (and no doubt others) have kept an eye on the books, realised the current situation wasn’t sustainable and acted to keep the business alive (and many others employed).

    As for this being a publicity stunt, perhaps it was / is. However reading comments from Elliot (not just on this post, but other sites), this is what he hoped for. I have seen more than 1 ‘offer’ for Elliot to do some work, of which I have no doubt would not have come about had it not been for all the publicity.

    Ryan – keep being open, honest and running YOUR company as YOU see right (you ain’t done so bad up till now after all!)

    Elliot, Simon, Dominic – Best of luck with your job searches / freelancing or whatever else you decide to do. Use all of this to your advantage!!!

  23. @Ryan,

    1. It’s your company. You may run it like a family, because how you want to run YOUR company is up to YOU.
    2. You blogged/tweeted about it. I understand you want to be open about Carsonified’s people and culture. You were definitely going to take a beating with this post. That’s what normally happens with layoffs.
    3. Plenty of large companies, who were much better off, have laid off thousands of more people. The only difference is that unlike those large corporations, you ended giving all his blog visitors a place to vent.
    4. Yes, you did make bad decisions while running the company(IMHO). At least you were open about it. I don’t see you hiding behind a Chief Culture/Happiness/Information Officer.

    What was supposed to be an article on recession advice, turned into a lynch mob.

    Not only did you have to let go of some of your Carsonified family, but then you had to be publicly judged for doing it. But hey, that’s the internet for you!. I can’t say you have my sympathies, but Carsonified does have my support.

    P.S. I’m more of a BMW guy anyways.

  24. Ryan Cumley on December 9, 2008 at 6:23 am said:

    As always, I’m impressed by the culture of transparency you live in Ryan and Carsonified crew. This post (and ensuing maelstrom) furthers my impression of your honesty, since genuine disclosure of both the good and the bad counts for much more than some abjectly pious ‘perfection’ in my book.

    Elliot, Simon and Dom, you’re clearly quality employees since you managed to get in the door at “Carsonified”. Any employer worth working for should be able to match the “Carsonified” on your resume with a story or two of some project you recently nailed and smell the quality. Best of luck.

    Ryan, your advice to model changing revenue and expenses dynamically is excellent. I model a $1 billion asset portfolio for a private equity firm, and we always have a ‘base’ ‘down’ and ‘reserve’ case modeled every month with varying degrees of pessimism baked in. If you don’t project your business’ cash flows every month with a range of revenues, take Ryan’s advice and build a “variable that you can change in one cell which then updates all your revenue forecasts”.

    Smart tax management on the company car, I’m sure the appropriate (ie. legal) personal/business use tax treatment was applied, and no doubt the money that would have went to taxes was used in the business instead (probably on things like salary, which is why the government includes that particular tax break in the first place…) Even more respect for the decision to trade pride for cash flow and ditch the car for the bike. Most of us aren’t as quick to embrace selling as we are buying, and your remaining employees are more secure for your willingness to do so.

  25. Best of luck to Simon, Elliott and Dom. Hope that something comes through for all of you soon. Job searches can be discouraging, especially in times like this, but obviously if you were working for Carsonified then you’re highly skilled in your respective fields.

    As far as the issue of the value of these three employees that was brought up earlier, I’m of the opinion that you don’t hire people in the first place if you’re not confident that they will be valuable to your company. I doubt that Carsonified got where it is hiring the first candidate that walked in the door (if so, then you got lucky). It takes great expense both in existing employees’ time (to conduct interviews) and monetary expense to the company (arranging interviews, candidate transportation, etc) to find the right people. At a small business you can rarely afford to hire the wrong people or you go out of business quickly. That said, I think Ryan means it when he said they valued these employees and I appreciate his honest viewpoint from a side of the table that I never want to have to be on. I’m sure for most managers, it hurts to lay people off almost as much as it hurts to get laid off. Sure there may not be an immediate monetary hit to the manager, but these are people that you’ve built relationships with. You go to lunch with them, talk about their hobbies, families, etc. I don’t think any of us reading this post, including Ryan, are at the point of disillusionment that being on either side of the table would be painless.

  26. Ryan, very good post. Ignore the haters. Most of these people have obviously never run a business before. I congratulate you for being open and honest, and for be proactive. This just means Carsonified is going to keep kicking ass in 2009 and beyond. Best of luck to you man.

  27. I think it is important to explain the reasons for laying off staff publically and formally – it allows people to know that it was not the first path you wished to go down but neither were you going to allow emotions get in the way of making the necessary decisions for the success/survival of your business. It also like previously mentioned increases the awareness that these staff are now ‘free and available’ (I sound like some corny dating website but hey).

    Even this dispute has generated sufficient publicity for said ex-employees (just saw it featured on TechCrunch infact; http://bit.ly/HNTJ).

  28. Hey guys, look. Play nice. I would be cool if we could turn this into more of a “okay, let’s try and get the guys some job opportunities” kind of thread instead of a bunch of bashing and insults. And the business stuff is cool too. It’s just more important to get some jobs goin. Good luck to all and merry Christmas.

  29. If the measure of a brand is how upset people get when that image is tarnished, I’d say Carsonified has done a hell of a job building a squeaky-clean (and highly transparent) public persona over the past few years. Let’s not forget that. Cognitive dissonance… it’s a bitch.

    I’ve had to cut back a few positions at my own (very small) shop as well, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Ryan’s choice to post and tweet about it is his way of giving the three affected a hell of a lot of exposure in hope that they’ll be better for it.

    Of course it’s not going to be a popular decision, but a big part of running your own business is doing things you know to be right even when others don’t.

  30. Very interesting thread. I personally beleive Ryan did this for all the right reasons, not only to assist the guys in finding new roles but to give us all a gentle kick up the rear to ensure we all have our own houses in order as SMEs or Start-ups in this turbulent and uncertain period.

    In business, sometimes you can only learn by making mistakes, and once you do it once you’ll never do it again!

    I wish both Ryan, the Carsonified team, Elliot, Simon and Dom all the very best.

  31. To be perfectly honest I think you should stop flaming Ryan and Carsonified.

    Ryan had the decency to actually open up his company so we could see how it works, he showed that he had to make cuts to benefit his business but in doing so it also hurst him as he had to let go of some very strong and valuable employees.

    Ryan has given some very sound advice on what to do in a tough economy, and who can ay that they have never benefited from Ryan’s advice or events. I myself have the utmost faith in Ryan his, videos and articles for thinkvitamin are brilliant and have helped my business grow rapidly. I always take his advice to heart and he is yet to fail me.

    Also Elliott’s image has not been tainted by being ‘laid off’ I see this more of a releasing measure. In the case of Elliott Ryan has released one of the best developers known to man out to the public and I myself am planning on taking advantage of this, I have already contacted Elliott in the hope that he take me up on my offer to do some work for me.

    I am also planning on paying Ryan to do some private consultancy with me and my team as I believe I could really benefit from his experience.

    All you flamers really do not have a place here, look at what Ryan has done for the web community, he pulls off these huge events with his teams that we all love to attend and watch. I think if anything, even if he did make some mistakes in this post we should cut him some slack because to be honest from what I have seen all Carsonified is, is brutally honest and a fun place to be. I idolize Ryan for this and wish him all the best in his future endevours and hope he does not take these troll’s comments to close to heart as they have not damaged his reputation one bit in my eyes.

    Ollie

  32. So this is why my DRAMA LAMA got to. Can I have him back now?

  33. @Frank P “Anyway, I doubt if you have much time for my opinion so I’ll stop wasting my time.”

    Of course I have time for your opinion. If I wasn’t interested in hearing your thoughts, I wouldn’t bother blogging.

  34. Point well argued Ryan, so you’re taking your ball and going home then…?

    😛

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Sure, do whatever you like, but don’t expect me to take you seriously with your ‘I feel like deleting it’ – you had already Tweeted it once, you linked to it in that exact tweet, and you tweeted it again later. I don’t believe you changed your mind. I don’t think you ever really felt like deleting it. That’s all I’m saying, and as such I think it was a cynical if not hypocritical tweet.

    I don’t mean to come across all troll like, I just respect people more who stand over their writing, or admit a mistake. But pretending to shy away from something while pimping the hell out of it doesn’t wash with me.

    On top of that, I come down on the side of those who think you’ve done a disservice to those you let go.

    Your blog post title *could* have been – ‘Three great guys available for work due to lay offs at Carsonified’ or something similar if you did indeed value them – instead it was what it was and contained ‘advice’ for employees who don’t want to get canned by folk like yourself, which could be read as criticism of the ex-employees in question.

    Anyway, I doubt if you have much time for my opinion so I’ll stop wasting my time. Best of luck,
    Frank

  35. @Frank P “But instead of deleting it, or just letting it quietly slip away, you promoted it on Twitter at least three times today.”

    This is because once I got over all the harsh comments, I realized it was a valuable discussion that could benefit from further comments.

    Also, I own the company and the blog so why wouldn’t I Tweet about it? My Twitter account is my own property, and frankly, I can do whatever the hell I want with it.

  36. I’m with Ed (commenter above) regarding the cynical nature of the promotion of this post.

    Ryan, you said on Twitter “I never intented it to be a PR stunt. Feel like deleting the post now.

    But instead of deleting it, or just letting it quietly slip away, you promoted it on Twitter at least three times today.

    At least be man enough to stand up and say you love the attention!

  37. @Ben Darlow “What I’m sure we can all agree on, however, is that making redundancies really should be the last resort of cost-cutting, not the first.”

    These layoffs were by no means our first reaction. We’ve made massive changes to our budgets and revenue streams, but it just wasn’t enough. Laying off some of the Team was the *last* thing I wanted to do.

    @Winnie M “Final point: I was not aware of the four day week which although ‘google-esque’ in its approach is just crazy if your actually canning people, how many [staff x fridays] = another few jobs?”

    Our 4-day weeks is an integral part of our culture. There’s no way we’d change that. Do you think that the team would actually be more efficient if we asked them to work that 5th day? We promised them every Friday off and taking that away would be going back on our word.

    @Dan “why wasn’t it a company diesel Mondeo from the start? Save 50% on the car itself and plenty on fuel. an A6 was just a showy ostentatious choice.”

    Because we could afford the Audi.

    @Tom Hopkins “Now every future of employer of these three chaps will be wondering just what really happened in the ego-fuelled Carsonified to lose them their jobs. Let’s watch their twitter feeds when they have to start answering questions about that.”

    Please get in touch with Elliott, Dom and Simon – I’ve listed their Twitter names at the beginning of the post. They’ll happily tell you the story. Not sure why blogging about this means we have a big ego.

    @Muhammad Seedat

    “You may be the 100% shareholder of Carsonified or Carson Systems but you can’t view you and the business as one and the same.”

    Fair point.

    “Regarding every employee being profit generative I beg to disagree. There will always be ‘overhead’ employees and that is something we have to accept. The front office or sales or income generating employees will always have to cover the back office or non incoming generating employees. That is how most effective business models work. What happens when you get rid of back office or non income generating employees is that the income generating employees pick up slack of those no longer there and cannot produce as much as they did do with ’support’.”

    I think you misunderstood me. I never said every employee *has* to generate revenue or they would be laid off. I merely said that they were more likely to keep their job if they were generating revenue. I agree that every business needs support staff (Mike, our designer, is a great example of this. We still have a ton of design work that needs to be done but it doesn’t generate us any revenue – at least directly)

    “Consulting is essentially about selling time and time is finite.”

    Great point, well made.

    @Geoffrey Grosenbach “I’m interested to hear Ryan’s opinion on why you chose to scale back the company rather than use these individuals to launch another new business idea?”

    Sadly we just couldn’t afford the initial cash outlay to do this. We need to start generating revenue immediately from our current projects so we can’t wait for more long term ideas to come to fruition.

    However, this is a short term (a year or two) situation – we definitely plan on launching more web apps!

    @Andrew Whitehouse, @Doug Aitken, @Pascal, @Michael McKelvaney @Kerri, @Robin Blandford, @Jaan Orvet, @Michael Schneider, @Kieran Masterton, @Jarod Leubbert, @Ian Fenn, @Ryan Downie and @Tom Hughes-Croucher

    Thanks for all the support – I really appreciate it.

  38. I love the way that Ryan is still trying to get publicity for this on twiitter: http://twitter.com/ryancarson/status/1045578840

  39. As Paul suggested you can not judge Ryan until we have lived in his shoes and had to lay people off. It wouldn’t have been an easy task and we should respect him for sharing it.
    Carsonfied no matter how people perceive it is at the for front of our industry and with the permission from the people that lost their jobs, Ryan was right to post about it. How would it have seemed if it came out and Ryan didn’t post about it?

    How many of you can say honestly with money in the bank, and owning your own successful business that you wouldn’t have got a expensive car? Money was in the bank and things wouldn’t have been so bleak a few months back. Ryan didn’t go out on Monday and buy the Audi. Getting it on the company makes perfect sense and I would do the same.

    For people who state Ryan must not care about his staff? I was really tempted to apply for a position that was posted a couple of months ago. Do you know anywhere else that kits you out personally with apple gear, 4 day work weeks and to go to the events around the world? If so please do show me them.

    For all the people who are flaming it is nothing really to do with us, it does not effect us.

  40. … got cut off. In other words:

    Give him a break, he chose to be “transparent” even though it may negatively effect his businesses further. I commend the act.

    Good luck getting through the recession.

  41. Ok, the arguments are very unfair in my opinion.

    In short, it’s not a publicity stunt. I know this, because I think Ryan is a smart guy. And to use this as such an event would be dumb.

    Because rather than pull on heart strings or generate “press”, the honesty and transparency of the blog post say one thing to me.

    Wow! Not only is this industry in trouble. But so is Carsonified, the business itself in trouble

    In other words

  42. Though it’s always hard to go through redundancy (I’ve been there) – sometimes it’s good to have it aired in public and being public about it all (obviously if those who have been made redundant agree).

    The publicity has probably given the 3 a lot of new contacts and they may well get work out of it.

    Also a limited company has 100% obligation to its shareholders – that’s what a company is all about end of story.

    Steve

  43. 7. b) Take really good care of ALL of your customers. After all, in a recession, the big can become the small, and the small can become the big.

  44. Ryan,

    While I sympathize with you as a leader who had to make a tough choice, I also sympathize with those who were let go because it’s hard enough to make it in the world. Doing so in “tough times” and suddenly at that, is… well that’s just life. Nothing is ever easy and I can only commend Simon, Elliot and Dom for having the character to respond so well.

    Making hard choices, and dealing with hard times, is what separates the boys from the Men.

    Frankly I think those getting uptight are more concerned about their own opinions than they are about those who were affected. Which is sad because this, technically, doesn’t involve them.

    Peace.

  45. I hope I know both Bradley and Ryan pretty well. I’m sure Ryan did the right an honorable thing. I think Bradley is trying to as well.

    Ryan has always been fair, honest and transparent and I know he is very respectful. As Eliott confirmed I can’t imagine Ryan posting this without the full permission of Elliot, Simon and Dom. It’s great he is using his and the business’ reputation to give them a boost in the next phase of their careers. That’s a brave thing, as is admitting you have to make cuts and being honest about why.

    Brad, I worked with your for a couple of years and you have always been the person looking after the underdog. I often saw you use your senior position to make sure the people under you didn’t get walked all over. I think while you are trying to defend the need some people have for privacy it’s unnecessary in this case. Ryan may be good at talking about what he does, but that doesn’t mean that all the talk isn’t genuine.

  46. I can’t help feeling that some people here really need to get a life.

    Human beings make mistakes. I’m sure Ryan has been guilty of a few while managing Carsonified, but this doesn’t make him a bad person.

    As Paul Boag highlights, being responsible for the livelihoods of others is a serious responsibility. There’s a reason why I’ve remained a solo consultant rather than form an agency. Ryan has managed to set a company up and, for a period of time, provided a livelihood for the three people concerned. He continues to do the same for those who remain. Credit is due.

    Ryan’s post is in the spirit of previous posts regarding the running of his business and what he’s learnt. It should really come as no surprise to anyone who has been following this blog.

    Looking at how well previous Carsonified employees are doing nowadays, I suspect the three folks affected this month have little to worry about in terms of future employment.

    Of course, there was no uproar when those previous employees left… Why? Because they took the decision to leave, and not Ryan?

    And there’s the rub. We live in a crazy world where people continue to expect to have a job for life, or for as long as they want it. The reality is that for many that’s no longer the case. In fact, we should just be grateful for work so long as we have it.

    All the best,


    Ian

  47. Great post Ryan, thanks a lot for the great advice. I completely agree with you. It seems like Carsonified would be a great company to work for and like you guys were a pretty close knit group. It was very generous of you to explain your reasoning and offer advice to other entrepreneurs that could end up in the same situation. I don’t really understand what people are upset about. By writing this you are not only helping out the employees that were laid off but other companies as well.

    Anyway, good luck to all of those that were affected by the layoffs and to your company as well. I enjoy everything you guys do for the community. I’m hoping I will be able to attend one of your conferences soon.

  48. Kieran Masterton on December 8, 2008 at 7:45 pm said:

    Given the levels of transparency that Carsonified are known for such a blog post was to be expected, I don’t know why it’s causing so much controversy. Ryan (and his team) regularly contribute to all our knowledge by sharing here on the blog and via Twitter. For me, as an outsider, such openness seems to be a fundamental Carsonified value and Ryan has taken this experience and fed it back to the community. I would understand people’s outrage if Ryan had not sought his staff’s permission before addressing the issue publicly, but that is clearly not the case. As for the article, I found it extremely useful.

    Best of luck to Dom and Simon and Elliot, I hope your new business goes well.

    Kieran

  49. It’s never easy to let people go, and while it sucks for the person being let go, it also is extremely hard on the entrepreneur that has to let someone go – especially if it’s for financial reasons and not based on merit. The point of a business is to make a profit. Along the way, it should take care of its employees and customers – but there is nothing “ruthless” about having to cut back when supply (of talent) exceeds demand (for their talent).

    I’ve met Ryan personally and had the pleasure of attending a few conferences over the years, and I can safely say that he’s as far from ruthless as it gets – and that when someone gives business advice on something that worked for them – it doesn’t mean that they’re a business god and immune from business cycles. Just because he had to do this doesn’t invalidate his past business advice. In fact, it validates it more – someone who’s willing to be in the public eye on the ups and downs wins my respect.

  50. @Elliott – Cheers, I think your post is THE post people need to read.

    And one point of clarification on my part re Audi, seeing as I got asked about it. The point I was trying to make was that you shouldn’t assume that just because the car has a swank name that it’s a larger-than-needed expense.

  51. Oh, and @Bradley:

    Please understand: what happened was, in fact, private. We chose to make it public for our own reasons.

    As for this post, there’s a paragraph below the bullet points which, I think, sums up what happened in our situation:

    Unfortunately, even if you’re working hard on the above three points, sadly there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to keep your job. Sometimes your company just doesn’t have enough time to allow you to build up levels of revenue or value and they will have to make a tough decision.

  52. Wow. I’m a little surprised at the amount of hate in these comments. If anyone were to be angry, it’d be me, Simon and Dom – and we’re not. Everyone also seems to be second-guessing Ryan, but in the end I’m sure he understands his own company pretty well. Of course, as always, you’re free to speculate, but the flaming seems a little unnecessary.

    I’ve made the personal decision for my change of career to be public, and Ryan has acted accordingly, for which I’m grateful. Hopefully it’ll help to boost my profile a bit, which will be helpful for me when I start my own business. Watch this space!

    But in all seriousness, there’s a lot of support out there, and we’re all grateful for that. I’m absolutely humbled by the number of positive tweets coming in – and all the new followers. In fact, I’m beating Mike by almost 100 followers now. If you’d like to join in, follow @elliottkember.

    At the risk of sounding too hearts-and-flowers, could we perhaps treat this a little more positively? If nothing else, it will help us find new work 🙂

  53. Changing the topic a bit, I’m interested to hear Ryan’s opinion on why you chose to scale back the company rather than use these individuals to launch another new business idea?

    * We’ve heard that DropSend was built for £30k, which is about the price that an A6 would be sold for.
    * DropSend was sold for a profit.
    * You’ve started several other revenue-generating apps in short order.
    * You have money in the bank.
    * You seem to be diversifying away from doing conferences exclusively, so a revenue-generating webapp would be a perfect asset.

    Yes, it’s a risky move, but also one that we’ve come to know Carsonified by. Does this mean the end of new ideas from Carsonified?

  54. Muhammad – yes, those are my points and thoughts well articulated. I thought for a moment I was the only one who saw things like that and I was begining to doubt my own position!

  55. I get the feeling that a lot of the comments were written before reading Ryan’s post, and before reading Ryan’s responses to earlier comments. Maybe I’m wrong, in which case I apologize.

    Having just now read the post, and all the comments myself (it’s early morning here in San Francisco), I do want to add my 2 pence/cent on the following two things:

    – Openness/honesty.
    In any relationship, whether IRL or by reading Ryan’s posts, there are things we may not want to hear. In this case I think many of us saw Carsonified the company as something of…an “idol”. At least that’s what I heard LOTS of people say at FOWA London, at times it sounded like the event attendees were talking about a religion (maybe because there was a religious event at the Excel Center at the same time). That’s not a good thing. No one is flawless and should not be put on a pedestal. I’m pretty sure no one at Carsonified asked to be treated as such.

    Let’s appreciate that Simon, Elliott and Dom are brave enough to have this blogged about. Credit to those three guys and to Ryan for their honesty and transparency even in tough times.

    – Audi. The difference in actual cost between leasing a nice looking Audi and a rubbish looking car, one with a cheaper sounding brand name, can be minimal, if any.

    Simon, Elliott and Dom – Best of luck, I have no doubt you’ll find other fab gigs.

    Ryan – Don’t change the way you communicate.

  56. Hi Ryan

    First off, I believe Carsonified is a really great company and I love your events and the care and detail you guys take in going about your business.

    I have to agree with John on a few points, being a finance person come entrepreneur myself:

    The company car – Your explanation regarding this illustrates that there is no real line between you (personally) and the business. This is a mistake most young businesses and entrepreneurs make – there is no differentiation and ‘its all a sense of mine’ – this impairs judgment when it comes to strategic decision making. You needed to purchase a car – fair, not taking that away, but was it a good idea for the business to purchase the car ie. was the car a good idea for the business? Obviously not. You may be the 100% shareholder of Carsonified or Carson Systems but you can’t view you and the business as one and the same.

    Regarding every employee being profit generative I beg to disagree. There will always be ‘overhead’ employees and that is something we have to accept. The front office or sales or income generating employees will always have to cover the back office or non incoming generating employees. That is how most effective business models work. What happens when you get rid of back office or non income generating employees is that the income generating employees pick up slack of those no longer there and cannot produce as much as they did do with ‘support’.

    The other thing is you have a great business model – you are cash generative from what I can see. You collect all your revenue before an event. I accept that there are costs but your forecasting can be calculated to a fair science. Your plans to hold more ‘smaller’ events next year is great – cash generative but be careful of doing too much consulting when your focus can be on events. Consulting is essentially about selling time and time is finite. The number of tickets you can sell to an event with fixed overheads isn’t. It seems you may be panicking prematurely with regard to cutbacks and I am afraid that this comes as a result of it ‘being the in thing to do to make people redundant’ – eg. Revision 3 and a few other companies. We have to make sure that we (and I mean all businesses) are not so scared of a recession that we recession proof our businesses to the extent that we prevent growth. Some businesses are in fact recession proof. With the following that you have and the great brand that you have built, would anyone not attend an event as a result of the ‘hard times’. I think not personally but you know your business better than I do.

    Use it or lose it, just thought I would bring some constructive criticsm to the discussion.

    Look forward to seeing you and the team at future events.

    Muhammad

  57. “… sold the company Audi A6 and now ride a bike to work”.

    The only person who comes out of this sorry tale happy is the a brand manager at a German car company!

    After lecturing everyone on responsible forward-looking behaviour despite laying off staff hired only a few months before, the author is incapable of not about gloating about an ostentatious car he hasn’t even got any more. It would only have been better with a detailed added: ‘… sold the company Audi A6 (midnight black, alloy wheels) and now ride a bike to work’.

    Seriously, the advice is fine but twittering and blogging about redundancies is just tasteless. And ‘they told me they were happy with it’ is the worst defence in the world… you’ve just waved their jobs in front of them for god’s sake.

    Not everything can be a [ersonal blogging psychodrama. Now every future of employer of these three chaps will be wondering just what really happened in the ego-fuelled Carsonified to lose them their jobs. Let’s watch their twitter feeds when they have to start answering questions about that.

    Merry Christmas.

  58. Sad to see Elliott, Simon, and Dom go.

    This is your blog, your method of working your thoughts out from your head, about your company. Thanks for sharing them.

    I choose to read them so I get an insight, not judge.

    I would probably have written a similar post.

  59. “How to beat the recession” aka “Sack all your staff – By Ryan Carson”

    WoW! And dont forget that highly expensive A6 Company Car, because your staff will understand, a cars more important than them!

  60. Back to work people.

  61. While I’m still on the negative side rather than the positive (supporting) one in this debate. One thing I would ask, would I have been more annoyed had Ryan, given his track record for going public with almost everything, kept this all quiet and under wraps – not telling us that Carsonified was shrinking its head count. The answer is, yes that too would have annoyed me, if in being open and honest somethings had been kept hidden. To that end I would conclude that the problem is firstly the way Ryan did it and secondly the fact that if you open yourself up as being honest then everyone is going to try and catch you out.

    I think that is the essence of what part of the negative position is. It’s a bit lose lose and I don’t see an easy solution for RC. It’s just that when you put yourself out there as being open and honest people are going to inspect everything and compare it back.

    I really wouldn’t want Ryan to cease his honest open posting but perhaps there needs to be a filter to what is said and how it is delivered.

    I have to emphasise that I have never met RC and am not making a personal attack on him. I just feel that what the carsonified brand stands for has been somewhat shifted off track with this episode.

  62. Man, I dunno.

    I think the only thing that you can really be judged on here is the car. “The company Audi A6″… Doing a 180 on the not needing a car thing is fine, especially with Jacskon coming into the equasion… but, dude, why wasn’t it a company diesel Mondeo from the start? Save 50% on the car itself and plenty on fuel. an A6 was just a showy ostentatious choice.

    The redundancies, well aside from maybe a bit of not-so-great planning, I don’t think you can really be blamed. This recession sucks for everyone and despite people warning us for the past 18 months, it does still seem to have hit everyone by surprise. Lots of companies have had the best 12 months on record prior to this recession and based on that, why wouldn’t you hire some extra muscle? Lots of businesses are going to be in exactly the same boat you are in.

    Now, blogging about the cuts, especially in the context you are doing it in, is treading on thin ice. I can see why you’ve done it but I wouldn’t have. On the face of it, it does appear insensetive. If, like you say, the guys you layed off wanted you to put this press out there to ensure they got snapped up ASAP then that’s okay but still, why did you try and make this announcement a business blog post? It would have been fantastic to have given the guys their send off and best wishes and leave it at that.

  63. As to the ideas about how to run a small business, I don’t have an opinion either way, because I don’t run a business.

    But I will say this: The internet, in my view, is not a place to be telling strangers about people losing their jobs, less so the reasons why. That’s fairly personal stuff that would normally be known by less than a handful of people.

    Even with their consent, I would still probably not include all the lemon about laying them off, and just write an article about the tips for running a business.

  64. I agree with Alex Hunter. I have never met a man who is more innovative, considerate and fair than Ryan Carson. He deserves to be PRAISED for doing something that is hard in hard times. No one likes to do what is hard, but when it needs to be done I am proud of Ryan for doing what it takes. I also happen to know that Ryan and his family are doing other things in their own personal lives to scale back during these times as well. He takes who he is and applies it to his own life as well as his company. He always has and always will.

  65. No, its about Ryan doing what he does about any other subject. Using Twitter to communicate his thoughts on current situations.
    I really think that people should stop personally attacking Ryan.

  66. Thanks for keeping this post up Ryan, a tough decision and proof of your inherent desire to be completely transparent about your journey as a business man.

    People seem hurt to find out that you are just human, that you weren’t writing the Gospel according to Ryan but are merely sharing your observations on business life for people to assimilate into their own approaches.

    Post + comments is a compelling read, but for the silly personal attacks. Simon, Elliott and Dom – I wish I had jobs for you, I have mentioned your availability to others all because of Ryan’s original tweets.

  67. Winnie M. on December 8, 2008 at 1:32 pm said:

    @ Doug and others who said the same, everyone knows the first rule of finding another job is NEVER EVER bad mouth your last employer, so seriously get a new argument.

  68. Meant to put my twitter so people can contact me

  69. Doug Aitken on December 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm said:

    Ok I’m now commenting Ryan, I agree with what you’ve done.

    To the people that say this shouldn’t have been posted in public, I disagree, Ryan has stated he discussed it with Elliott, Dom and Simon, I’m friends with Elliott on twitter and haven’t seen him bad mouth Ryan or Carsonified, heck, he’s even still got this website as his link!
    And Dom? oh yea, he’s really pissed and whatnot at Ryan, /sarcasm!

    check out: http://twitter.com/DominicTravers/status/1044920418

    I do believe that shows support for Ryan and this post from one of the 3 affected people?

    The car? people hinting its a tax dodge cos he didn’t buy it private? Please, it’s Ryan’s company! I may sound naive saying this but surely, Ryan can spend Ryan’s company’s money how he wants? He also admits selling this privately used item (I’m sure it wasn’t 100% used on a company basis) to help save company money.

  70. Winnie M. on December 8, 2008 at 1:28 pm said:

    Twitting out about removing the post – hmmm was that an attempt at getting your ‘fans’ to look it up and post positive things?

    I think there is a debate about what is private / public information, I do think it was bad timing however to release this post right after making them redundant (that was my earlier argument). You really could have done it the other way around.

    That being said whats done is done and I guess its just a really sensitive topic at the moment with the current economic climate.

    Final point: I was not aware of the four day week which although ‘google-esque’ in its approach is just crazy if your actually canning people, how many [staff x fridays] = another few jobs?

  71. A few thoughts:

    This sentence made me laugh: “Our primary revenue comes from the events and conferences we run. Web apps are secondary to that and now that we’ve sold DropSend, the need for a full-time developer has greatly reduced.” I think you’ve switched into the less recession-proof business. DropSend solved a real problem for a low price. Conferences are very expensive, and (understandably) the first things to get eliminated from company budgets. I suspect that if you weren’t selling conferences, you would have said “eliminate conferences and other unnecessary travel” when discussing ways to reduce travel expenses. That’s what I would have written.

    I don’t blame you for announcing the cuts. Since their names were on your web site, word was going to get out, etc. But others are right that you did it in a poor manner.

  72. Andrew Whitehouse on December 8, 2008 at 1:16 pm said:

    I understand that people losing their jobs is an emotive issue, but many of the comments here are rather too cynical. I have met Ryan a couple of times and believe that his transparency comes from a genuine desire to educate, e.g. with the Bare Naked App series that he wrote back in 2006.

    I am now freelance, but used to work for a publicly listed software company who cut staff in round after round of redundancies. This convinced me that it is down to us all individually to make ourselves as valuable in whichever environment we are working.

    As tough as it is, Ryan’s advice makes good sense; as a business owner when there is less money coming in you need to reduce your fixed overheads to keep the business going. Salaries are one of the biggest costs for most businesses. And on the personal side, the fact that he has spoken to Simon, Elliot & Dom before writing the post shows, I think, that he has considered the people involved.

  73. Back in early 2006, at the first FOWA Summit, Ryan said the following in a talk primarily about budgetary concerns:

    * No new shiny machines – you don’t need that MacBook Pro!
    * No luxuries – company car, fancy meals – wait until you have real cash

    What it sounds like to me is that Ryan had some good ideas which when times were bountiful he chose to ignore. And if you can’t take heed of your own advice, why should anybody else?

    Let’s take the issue of the individuals who lost their jobs out of the equation and instead focus on what matters here; is Ryan a credible source of advice on how to “recession-proof” yourself? If the first piece of advice is ‘lay off some staff’ then this isn’t news; it’s what corporations have been doing for decades. As for the rest… well, wouldn’t it make sense to see if it works first? Or at least to refer to your track record? Based on that, I’d say no; Ryan isn’t a credible source on this subject.

    We can all spout rhetoric about who is/isn’t an ethical businessman until the sun goes down. That’s not useful or productive, particularly when everyone has different interpretations of ethics. What I’m sure we can all agree on, however, is that making redundancies really should be the last resort of cost-cutting, not the first.

  74. Only a brief comment from me, just to say that our thoughts should be with Elliott, Simon and Dom… as someone working for a company that is laying off a large number of it’s staff, I know how hard this can be and I hope that you guys find alternative work quickly.

    Ryan – I saw your tweet saying that you were thinking of removing the post – please don’t. I think it’s started an interesting debate and you have to stand by your beliefs and your business decisions. Anyone who’s ever been involved in a small business will know that decisions affecting the team are never taken lightly. Whether blogging about it was something other people would choose to do or not to do, life’s a learning curve right? 🙂

  75. I don’t like the term redundant in this context. It’s too negative. The times will change and people will get rehired. They’re not redundant, but their skills cannot be afforded in these times.

    Also, I disagree with Carsonified having screwed up. They’re as much the victim of the “financial crisis” as any other business that couldn’t see it coming. And not seeing it coming is what it’s all about as nothing’s really wrong, everyone is just panicing in knee-jerk reactions.

    As for all of the people having a go at Ryan while not even reading what the three guys that have lost their jobs post on Twitter… go read that first please.

  76. @ Bradley Wright

    “If these layoffs had come out through one of the detestable tech gossip rags, I could accept this post and Ryan’s responses. However, Ryan conducted these layoffs in the public eye over Twitter and then had the gall to accept sympathy from well-wishers. That makes me more sick than any layoffs. His flaunting of the details on the public Internet makes him open to criticism like any other public figure.”

    I specifically asked Simon and Elliott if they *wanted* me to tweet about the redundancies, as I was not planning on doing so. They both requested me to tweet about it so that it would make finding work easier.

    Also, I didn’t ask for sympathy from *anyone*. I said that it was a very, very sad day at Carsonified – and it was. I feel bad for Simon, Elliott and Dom. It’s them that should get sympathy, not me.

    @ John

    “Paul Boag, no one is saying Ryan enjoyed making people redundant. It’s just that over time Ryan has given lots of thoughts and advice on running a business. Suddenly, that advice appears to not be quite a credable as we may have first thought.”

    The best business people in the world have failed many times (and I have never said I know everything about business). I admit that I failed in this instance. I hired three people that we eventually couldn’t support. I’m not perfect, and that’s exactly the point.

  77. I’m going to add my little two pence in here.

    I think it’s great Ryan that you want to document your adventures in business, but I have to tell you it grates that you then offer a load of “power tips”, especially when you’ve just made three people redundant.

    As someone who helps run a business that has been going for eight years and employs 35 people, I still would never tell anyone how to run a business – because I’m not John Harvey Jones or have anything like the experience of true business entrepreneurs. I know jack shit, therefore I’m not in a position to tell anyone anything.

    By all means document the highs and the lows as your story is interesting, but for me you’re not in a position to offer advice that comes across like you’re the worlds greatest business leader.

    And I can say that to you, ’cause I respect you, and you’re a mate.

    Bren.

  78. I’ve been in this business for almost 10 years now. In that time, I’ve been made redundant twice and had I stayed at one of my previous employers for a month longer than I did, that would have been 3 times. It’s not a nice experience, but the most recent occasion led to me going solo and working for myself, which I’ve been doing for over 2 years now. Work is piling up, and I’ve never been happier nor more motivated in my working life. So for me, redundancy was the best thing to happen to me. Sometimes, it can help you refocus where you are in your career, and help you see where you want to be, and how you can get there.

    I work with other freelancers now, and the thought of employing staff scares the bejaysus out of me, as I don’t think I’d be able to handle the responsibility of it all. So fair play to you Ryan for being so open during this whole process.

  79. I don’t see the attacks as being personal – I think people are just saying that Ryan stood up and said one thing and now appears in practice to have done something else. Since Ryan’s brand is about integrity and honesty it is a little difficult to believe the message if there appears to be some contradictions going on.

  80. As someone who was made redundant just over 6 weeks ago, it’s refreshing to hear the thoughts and feelings from the side of the employer.

    Whilst redundancies are always are a horrible thing; both to make and to receive, as mentioned in the previous comments, any employer would far rather make one or two people redundant than sink the whole company and inevitably undo any progress made and lead to more redundancies.

    @Paul Sure there is no good time to make redundancies, but from personal experience finding another job over the Christmas period is more difficult than at other times of the year, largely due to the holidays.

  81. Robin Mayfield on December 8, 2008 at 12:45 pm said:

    Ouch! Just re-read my comment. Was a little harsh. Sorry.

    I should remember my #1 rule for commenting: Be cordial. Be polite. To all sides of the debate.

  82. @Bradley…

    You wrote:

    “However, Ryan conducted these layoffs in the public eye over Twitter and then had the gall to accept sympathy from well-wishers.”

    I do see your point here. Although Ryan does say he had permission from those being made redundant and personally I think it is better to announce something like that yourself than allowing it to ‘leak out’.

    What really does annoy me however is your belief he was wrong to “accept sympathy from well-wishers”. I was one of those well wishers and that is because:

    A. I want his company to succeed for his own sake and that of the other employees.
    B. Because he is suffering in this situation too. To paint him as some heartless monster taking pleasure in laying people off is unfair. He deserved my best wishes.

    To be frank, even if Ryan has screwed this up and shouldn’t have announced things in the way he did it shouldnt result in personal attacks. I know Ryan and I respect Ryan. I do not believe he would do this in a manipulative way. He did what he believed is right and I respect that.

  83. There is sure a lot of assumptions and misguided opinions being used to attack Ryan here. It’s almost as if those bashing Ryan failed to read the article and simply skipped to the comments.

    This is not an attempt to kiss Ryan’s ass; I agree this post is not very well thought through and _unintentionally_ disrespectful to the ex-employees even if they agreed with having this written and posted. Adding “they kick ass” a few times doesn’t really help fix the lack of thought that was put into the original message.

    All that being said, I have a question for you Ryan. Throughout the original post it seemed clear that these three guys weren’t fulfilling their expectations. With the updates we see that it was more a case of chance rather than their own faults on the job. This leads me to believe this post should have included tips for business owners that _you_ have learned through these events. Such as, be positive the cash flow is there to invest in new employees before making the leap… and I realize you give plenty of advice from things you’ve done, but what about the things you failed to do?

    Are you accepting fault for not being prepared as a business owner, or just leaving this as a chance turn of events out of your control?

  84. Saw your comment in twitter about how you are getting slaughtered in here (So obviously I took a peek).

    I think the early part of the post is spot on – it gave the guys you made redundant a great piece of promotion which will help them get more work. Good luck to them!

    As for the rest of the post – it is hard to take but in the scenario everyone is in right now every job will get looked at and it is pretty obvious that those not directly generating revenue will get looked at hardest. Of course not everyone who isn’t generating revenue directly will be made redundant 😉

    It was a hard post to write and I am not surprised you are getting lynched for it – but I think it was the right thing to do.

  85. @ John

    “If you’ve ever worked in a large organisation you should understand how each employee is important in a holistic sense.”

    Carsonified is a small company. I don’t claim to know anything about enterprise or large companies.

    @ Kean

    “Do you remain at a 4 day week as your jobs page still states?”

    Yes, we’re continuing with the 4-day week.

    @ Jackson

    “How is laying your staff off a precautionary measure? Your lead developer no less. This shows a fairly poor understanding on your part.”

    Our primary revenue comes from the events and conferences we run. Web apps are secondary to that and now that we’ve sold DropSend, the need for a full-time developer has greatly reduced.

    @ Leslie

    “Thanks for responding Ryan. Re-reading my post, I think I’m probably being a little harsh on you so I apologise.”

    Thanks – really appreciate it.

    @ Alex Hunter

    Thanks so much mate – you’re a star 🙂

    @ Paul Boag

    Thanks so much for your comment.

    @ Richard Henry

    Thanks very much.

    @ Alan O’Rourke

    Thanks for the support

  86. I can see how people would find the post confusing as to why Ryan had to lay people off. But do you really think that he knew / wrote all of this before laying them off.
    I mean, surely the man has had to do one of the hardest things that any boss, that actually cares for their staff will have to do. And the post that has landed here is in fact that of time and reflection on what Ryan has had to do.

    It is interesting to see that people that have followed Carsonified for a long time, and follow Ryan in Twitter etc. are so fickle and after on situation and one post, turn their back on Ryan and his company. C’mon guys that is just not right.

    Ryan, I respect what you have done and the fact that you still want to talk about it openly. As the others have said, I hope that Simon, Elliott and Dom find work and benefit from you talking about the situation. Keep up the good work.

  87. Paul Boag, no one is saying Ryan enjoyed making people redundant. It’s just that over time Ryan has given lots of thoughts and advice on running a business. Suddenly, that advice appears to not be quite a credable as we may have first thought.

    This is an important post, but clearly its also a sensitive one.

  88. @Paul Boag: I think the main cause for complaint is not that Ryan had to make layoffs, and I agree that Christmas has nothing at all to do with business decisions; it’s simply that making employees redundant and then following up with a blog post on “things you should be doing to avoid getting made redundant” implicitly damns the three ex-employees. If I were a business owner, why should I hire Elliott, Simon or Dom if they obviously don’t make any money, have any ideas, or do any extra work?

    Ryan’s glowing recommendations were only added after the original article was published.

  89. Tweeting about the fact that you were taking a pounding in the comments probably just threw gasoline on the flames. I clicked. 😛

  90. @Leslie

    Even though I don’t think Ryan is “ruthless,” being a good businessperson is precisely how you take care of your employees and customers.

    There is nothing wrong with making money, and I don’t understand how Carsonified has ever been anything but straight forward about trying to turn a profit. One of the most important things a small and entrepreneurial business does is to concentrate on increasing and solidifying revenue. That’s the most effective way business owners can care for their employees – by making their jobs more and more stable. Unless I missed something, Carsonified is not a not-for-profit organization.

    Small business owners never like laying off employees. Why do they do so? To save the jobs of other employees. If your options were to let 3 people go today or risk letting a dozen go in 6 months wouldn’t you do the former? If not, wouldn’t you be the less compassionate and reckless businessperson?

  91. Dave Kirk on December 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm said:

    Why are people so quick to kick people / businesses when they are down?

    How many people genuinely saw this recession and the severity of it coming a few months ago? Yes there were signs that things were slowing down, but I don’t think many predicted just how bad things were going to get. Therefore I don’t think much can be said about hiring somebody a few months back – tough as it is for the person who was hired.

    I cannot understand how people that have bought into and agreed with the Carsonified philosophies can now say that they were all talk, just because decisions have been made to keep the company a float in the tough times. Would people have preferred it if no action had been taken and the company gone under? Even more people out of work, none of the conferences.

    Businesses are here to make money, it doesn’t make the people who run them ruthless! Entities that do not make money are 1 of 3 things:

    1 – A Charity
    2 – A Not for Profit
    3 – A Failure

    It is a sad think the 3 people have lost their jobs and I genuinely wish them all the best of luck. If nothing else, the amount of publicity this post is getting should be marketing the availability of Elliot, Simon and Dom better than any job site!

  92. @Paul Boag: you’re describing redundancies like a private, face-to-face thing. Which is how it should be handled; and if these layoffs had come out through one of the detestable tech gossip rags, I could accept this post and Ryan’s responses. However, Ryan conducted these layoffs in the public eye over Twitter and then had the gall to accept sympathy from well-wishers. That makes me more sick than any layoffs. His flaunting of the details on the public Internet makes him open to criticism like any other public figure.

  93. Tom Freeman on December 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm said:

    It is understandable to stand by someone you admire, or are friends with, but for the same reason some are annoyed at the negative comments, the sometimes sycophantic positive comments, Tweets, and well-wishing can also be construed as OTT.

    There are very legitimate concerns about Carsonified’s business practices, philosophy, and resulting contradictions, and they are being fairly aired.

  94. Dom’s twitter link is busted – I assume it’s http://twitter.com/dominictravers ?

  95. “It’s very easy for all of us to be armchair CEOs but read the tweets of the people affected by these layoffs – nothing but support for Ryan and his decision. I think that speaks volumes. ”

    How would it help them to slag off Ryan even if they wanted to?

    I’m not an “armchair” CEO, thank you.

    Ryan makes public his thoughts, views and opinions and I do really repsect that but he cannot expect everyone to agree with all of his posts just because he’s, as you put it, “a stand up guy”.

    My view is this isn’t exactly a PR success: in a very public way I’m sort of interested in how Ryan now might be able to limit the damage he may be doing to his reputation. So far the case for the defence has been on the weak side.

  96. I love that whenever you stick your head above the parapet and speak about something important, people seem to think it’s open season on your person.

    This is an important post and the fact that you are responding to these some of these juvenile comments shows a strength of character on your part. Character that some see now available to assasinate.

    Ryan – I’m impressed that you posted about this incredibly difficult course of action that many can just not understand. God bless you and your business.

    To those others (you know who are – i.e. never run a business and have an over-developed sense of entitlement): Grown up.

  97. Ryan not gonna comment on your post your actions your business thats yours. I was there 7 years ago in a similar world financial crisis.

    Elliot, Simon and Dom redundancy can be the ultimate life changing thing, think about how you can take advantage of it rather than the negative aspects, worked for me I’ve never looked back 😉

  98. @Tom Freeman, @ryan
    I would much rather listen to ideas and advise from someone who makes mistakes from trying then someone who never even tries.
    Thank you for the post Ryan. I realise it is hard for everyone involved but it clearly shows you are able to make the hard decisions when needed and I respect that.

    Alan

  99. Sorry, I could have probably said that without the “Grow up”. I apologise.

  100. @Leslie:

    “I used to look up to Carsonified and the work you do. I used to think you really cared about the web, your staff, people you work with etc.”

    I don’t understand why you think Ryan doesn’t care about his employees? He’s doing his best to help them get work elsewhere, and will keep going back to them for freelancing. What offends you? That he had to let them go because of money reasons? Surely that’s the best reason to let someone go. These people are clearly talented, but it wasn’t their talent that let them down.

    “Nothing wrong with wanting to make money of course, but I’d rather people were straight about that and don’t surround it by all the ‘we love our customers and staff…'”

    I don’t think you work in the creative industry. It’s not possible to run a tight-knit successful creative business without giving a shit about everyone you work with. If you honestly think this post is trying to mask business with fluffy love messages, then re-read the title and 80% of the content.

    “I also saw your posts on Twitter about increasing petrol prices like a big environmental hero – little did I know you were steaming around in an Audi A6 and only talked about petrol prices once you sold it! Call me a cynic…”

    An Audi is hardly a Humvee, and buying a car through the company instead of your own account is a lot more economical.

    Grow up.

  101. I don’t feel it is my place to comment on whether it was right or wrong for Ryan to publish this post. That depends on how the three people unemployed feel about the situation. I would however like to share my experience as a business owner and as somebody who has had to make people redundant just before Christmas.

    Being a person who employees people sucks, especially in a small company. You become incredibly close to the people you work with. You feel responsible for them. After all you help feed their kids, put a roof over their head etc. You feel that if you fail it doesn’t just screw up your life but the lives of those you employ. It is a huge responsibility.

    Having to lay people off is the worse thing you have to do. It says that you have screwed up. You have taken people away from other jobs only to let them go because you misjudged what your business could support.

    However, the alternative is even worse. If you keep people on you that cannot afford, you eventually sink the whole business. Everybody loses their jobs and even more people are out of work. Its a lose, lose situation.

    By laying people off rather than letting the whole company sink you look like a bastard and have to face the music. At least if the whole company sinks you can run away and hide.

    Ryan has had to sit face to face with those he is making redundant and tell them the bad news. Then he has had to walk into a room of nervous employees and say what he has done. It will have left everybody fearing for their job and probably unhappy with him too.

    I am not saying Ryan was right or wrong (I don’t know his business) but what I am saying is that laying people off is the hardest thing a business owner will ever have to do. It made me physically sick and I will never forgive myself.

    So until you have had to do it yourself I would think twice before you criticise those who have.

    As for the comments about ‘just before christmas’ that is bullshit. There is no good time to do this. People often sense it is coming and the uncertainty is often worse than knowing.

  102. Ryan Carson a ruthless businessman? That’s about as far from the truth as you can get. I consider Ryan a good friend and also one of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the web community. Ask anyone who has attended or participated in a Carsonified event and they will all tell you the same thing – Ryan is a stand up guy.

    It’s very easy for all of us to be armchair CEOs but read the tweets of the people affected by these layoffs – nothing but support for Ryan and his decision. I think that speaks volumes.

  103. I think you should quit replying to the comments because with each response I find it harder to see where you’re coming from and what your ethos really is. And just a thought – maybe it didn’t make so much sense to give employees Friday off in the end?

  104. Thanks for responding Ryan. Re-reading my post, I think I’m probably being a little harsh on you so I apologise.

  105. @Neal

    If the 4 day work week benefits the business as well as employees then it wouldn’t make sense to ditch it. I have no doubt whatsoever that web dev people get more work done in 4 straight days than in 5.

  106. In a time when businesses are using the web more and more to save money, and statistics show at the moment the digital landscape is booming where all other sectors are in decline.

    How is laying your staff off a precautionary measure? Your lead developer no less. This shows a fairly poor understanding on your part.

    At present we have several companies who have increased their web spend in the last month.

  107. I think Ryan stands for educating and helping people in the industry, there are ways this blog post can be perceived as just a heartless PR stunt, but to be honest I find it insightful and very open of him.

    It couldn’t have been an easy decision for him to make, especially this close to Christmas – and I hope that the people leaving very negative comments realize that this is just a real company who are only trying to help the industry.

    Everybody is feeling the impact of the economic downturn, as Ryan stated above, he discussed this posts content with the three he had to let go, so in a way we should be grateful for his honesty and advice.

    Additionally, I always seem to find a lot of negative (and usually anonymous) comments on Ryan’s blogs, I don’t understand why people dislike his company for being different and unique.

    And it makes me sad to see this

  108. I can’t say I have issue with your post or the redunancies, unfortunately it happens and the publicity generated although seemingly not positive for Carsonified is hopefully helping the guys find employment elsewhere, which to be honest is the main thing as no one wants to be unemployed.

    My question is do you remain at a 4 day week as your jobs page still states. Do you not think while paying a full 5 day salary it would be better to work the extra day as surely doing so can only help improve the situation, especially if you are moving into consultancy and development work?

  109. “Gill and I needed a car and it was much more affordable to finance it through the company then pay privately. If you buy privately, you have to extract the funds from the company as dividends, which you then pay tax on.”

    Ouch! You needed the car for personal reasons so you got the company to finance it for you. On quite a few levels that’s pretty poor.

    Paying tax is what we all do, Ryan.

    Also, I think you may find that if the company car is for personal use and not a company vehicle your personal tax bill should be higher than if you had extracted the funds from the company as dividends and used them to pay for a car.

    Either way, it’s clearly (from others reactions, too) another revelation which differs from the advice you have given others.

    “Every business is dependent on their revenue-per-employee figure. It’s simple: you’ve got to bring in enough revenue to pay salaries and expenses. Their intricately connected.”

    You stated that as an employee you need to generate revenue for the business and if you don’t your job could be on the line. What if you’re the cleaner, or the IT support staff. You may have no contact with clients but provide a crucial role in the business. If you’ve ever worked in a large organisation you should understand how each employee is important in a holistic sense. There’s no direct relationship between a persons role and their ability to generate income for the business and whether or not they should be valued by the business. In your world the company would be full of sales people and “production” staff and no one else.

  110. Maybe it’s time to ditch the legendary 4 day work week @ Carsonfied? Perhaps that should have gone before laying off staff? It looks a tad excessive in the current climate…

    best

    Neal

  111. @ Leslie

    Thanks for your honesty – I appreciate it.

    I hate the fact that businesses ultimately need to make a profit, but in the end, it’s the truth. We do our best to take care of our staff by giving them a lot of responsibility, not micro-managing, giving them every Friday off and giving them nice Apple hardware. Also, we really believe in what we do, which is connecting, encouraging and equipping the web industry.

    I’m not perfect by any means but I’d say I’m a million miles from a ‘ruthless businessman.’

  112. I used to look up to Carsonified and the work you do. I used to think you really cared about the web, your staff, people you work with etc.

    But the more I’m reading from you lately, the more I’m starting to see you as a ruthless businessman. I think your ‘take good care of your customers’ is all rather cynical, and whereas I used to think you care, now, I think you’re just a money making machine.

    Nothing wrong with wanting to make money of course, but I’d rather people were straight about that and don’t surround it by all the ‘we love our customers and staff…’

    I also saw your posts on Twitter about increasing petrol prices like a big environmental hero – little did I know you were steaming around in an Audi A6 and only talked about petrol prices once you sold it! Call me a cynic…

    I think you’re taking a public relations pounding here, and rightly so. I think your idea to do a blog post about this situation is both insensitive and ill advised.

  113. Hi Ryan,

    I think that you might just have opened a can of worms over the public vs. private information debate here.

    I’m not sure where I stand on this, but one thing that is certain is that events at Carsonified over the past week have been played out in front of a global audience. If marketing is all about perception, then whilst coming across as honest and sincere here, you also run the risk of being accused of generating publicity from an incident that has left three people out of work a fortnight before Christmas.

    I’m certain that you didn’t set out to have a Guardian article written about this, but this is what has happened; and after years of tolerating the political spin machines and the ‘Michael O’ Leary Mantra’ that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ – you’re going to run into a lot of sceptical people if this gets out into wider circulation.

    All the best for the next few months. I don’t know much about Carsonfied, but it looks like an excellent company, full of innovation and talent – maybe how you’ve handled the events of the last week will be later viewed as a major shift in the way a business interacts with their audience? We’ll wait and see.

    Best to all at Carsonified HQ

  114. Tom Freeman on December 8, 2008 at 11:34 am said:

    Ryan, you are giving confident advice and yet you have made some grave business mistakes. Due to this I’m not sure why anyone should take your advice seriously.

    Redundancies are hard for all involved but to make at least one employee redundant just months after employing them shows a serious lack of planning. Things do not change so dramatically in such a short period of time – there is no excuse for employing someone full time for the effective length of a short-term contract.

    Further, with this post you are turning the redundancies into a marketing opportunity. The advice may be good but the post comes across as heartless, regardless of the support of your employees.

    To top it all off, I have to echo the point a few others have made about your company car. Even after your explanation I can not see where the extravagance of a car (let alone one that costs £25,000+) is needed in your line of business. It, along with other points raised in this post and comments, unfortunately come across as contradictory and leave us with a confused picture of who you are and what Carsonified really stands for.

  115. Ryan, you may want to point your guys in the direction of Major Players (majorplayers.co.uk) and Ultimate Asset (ultimateasset.com), both of whom seem to have a number of good vacancies on their books. Redundancies suck, but not chopping enough sucks worse as the process gets drawn out longer.

  116. @ John

    “You have spent a lot of time talking about boot strapping and keeping your company agile and not expanding too quickly etc. Then you hire and subsequently fire three members of staff blaming the recession.”

    Yes, we have bootstrapped Carsonified from the very beginning. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hire people when we thought the timing was right. We believed we had the right amount of cash when we hired Dom, Simon and Elliott or we would’ve never hired them. Unfortunately circumstances changed and we had no choice.

    “You also state that you’re going to be diversifying by moving into to development yet you’ve “let go” of your developer. That seems an odd move if you’re confident of your diversification plans.”

    If development work comes in then hopefully we’ll be able to work with Elliott on a freelance basis.

    “Totally disagree about employees bringing in revenue. Business does not work like that at all – ever.”

    Not sure I understand you there. Every business is dependent on their revenue-per-employee figure. It’s simple: you’ve got to bring in enough revenue to pay salaries and expenses. Their intricately connected. I wish we didn’t have to worry about revenue, but unfortunately every business does.

    “The company car thing is also madness.”

    I disagree. Gill and I needed a car and it was much more affordable to finance it through the company then pay privately. If you buy privately, you have to extract the funds from the company as dividends, which you then pay tax on. So you’re stung twice from the government. It wasn’t just mindless luxury – we needed a car and it seemed like a fair choice.

    It would’ve been a lot easier not blog about any of this and stay silent. But we’ve never been that kind of company – we want to be as open and honest as possible and hopefully let others learn from our mistakes and troubles.

  117. Ryan,
    great post – I love the openness and honesty with which you write in good and bad times. I don’t understand why you are being criticized for the timing or the publication of this at all.

    It was quite sad to read that a company as successful as yours needed to take the action of laying off staff. Sharing your thoughts and tips here is wonderful – and I do hope Elliot, Simon and Dom will not be in need of work for long.

    Thanks, Ryan – and wishing you all the best of luck!

  118. I think it’s good to be honest and open but I have to agree with others that this just sounds confusing and insulting to those who you made redundant. To me, it is nothing but bad PR for your company and your reputation.

    There are alot of contradictions in your approach. You have spent a lot of time talking about boot strapping and keeping your company agile and not expanding too quickly etc. Then you hire and subsequently fire three members of staff blaming the recession.

    You also state that you’re going to be diversifying by moving into to development yet you’ve “let go” of your developer. That seems an odd move if you’re confident of your diversification plans.

    Totally disagree about employees bringing in revenue. Business does not work like that at all – ever. You really should examine business process a little more before making statements like that. I do understand what you’re trying to say it’s just that your logic is fundamentally flawed and it is pretty insensitive to say that at this time when you’ve just shed staff.

    My worry is that, for your business, you appear to be floundering in some areas. You offer business advice and you have run courses on business yet there is a lot of confusion around what you say and what you do.

    The company car thing is also madness. Very few companies now have company cars. Why on earth did you think you needed it? I’m starting to feel like you give all this advice for everyone else to hear but actually you’re neither living by it or actually believing in it. I wonder whether the company car was more of a status symbol for you and your business – which, if it was, is somewhat against your principles and what you have blogged about for so long.

    In general I do respect what you are trying to do but at this moment I do feel let down. Sorry, Ryan but there are too many contradictions in this to really buy into your spin.

  119. Good tips here. I think you’re right to publish the reasoning behind the layoffs and the guys are right – you talking about it will definitely get them a job not to mention the fact they’ve worked for Carsonified 😛

    Anyway good luck! I’m sure Carsonified will make it through.

    On a side note: Why are there so many jobs around at the moment if we’re in such a deep recession?

  120. Great post Ryan.

    I can understand how this stirs up quite a bit of emotion with people; I’m sure many people have been in the position of being made redundant before, and it’s a horrible thing to to experience; it’s hard for people not to take it personally.

    However, I think you have done a wonderful thing by being truly open and talking about a difficult subject like this. I don’t think people truly appreciate how hard it must have been to expose your organisation and explain in detail exactly what you’ve done and why you’ve done it. It would have been very easy to close ranks and just sweep it under the carpet, but in true ‘web community’ fashion you’ve opened it up and let people look, understand and learn from your experiences. I think you should get a lot of credit for doing that.

  121. I think you are quite spot on. I wrote an article in the very same lines last week (http://short.ie/qypwij) and I believe that you have covered some points which I had missed 🙂

    Well said

  122. Hey Ryan,

    Obviously very sad to hear about this. It must have been a tough week.

    What are your thoughts on tech outsourcing? Does Carsonified have any developers left now?

    On a side note, I think you guys will totally rock the consultancy stuff – tons of goodness to share.

  123. Winnie M. on December 8, 2008 at 10:10 am said:

    I have to agree with Bradley and Ben, the advice was helpful, but your timing really stinks. If they consented or not to you making the post isn’t the issue. You basically have just written that you let them go because they had no value within your company, not sure why that makes them valuable to other companies then. I feel bad for those guys who just were probally part of the ‘last in first out’ mantra. Bad Christmas presents all round, and bad PR for Carsonified, how much is that worth?

  124. I think its deeply insensitive to be posting and getting eye balls because you laid some people off. Then devaluating them so by ‘these weren’t emergency cuts’, (implying the question; why? if they are so ‘valued’). I know you’re trying to save face for Carsonified with that comment, but really no matter how you’re trying to spin it this only shows Carsonified and yourself in very bad light. It would have been far better and dignified to keep schtum.

    And for the Audi A6…. wow, just wow.

  125. A great and honest post! On the flip side, some of the points in this article (Such as diversifying and making sure you don’t overspend) can still be applied to the business once things eventually get back to normal and help you grow the company.

  126. @ Bradley

    I had a chat with Simon, Dom and Elliott and they all said they *wanted* me to talk about the layoffs, because it would make it easier for them to find work.

    Being honest about why we had to lay them off was meant to be helpful to all of you, so we can all learn from this, not a dig on the Team.

  127. Presumably the three individuals you’ve had to make redundant didn’t follow the advice above, or they’d still be gainfully employed? Or do you not heed your own advice? And since when do you only need ‘runway’ during times of economic uncertainty? Is the normal Carsonified approach to operate with a minimal amount of excess cash in the bank until there are clouds on the horizon?

    Also, I think the suggestion that directly correlating revenue to an employee’s salary is astonishingly naïve. There are many examples I can think of, off the cuff, where you can’t easily work out what the cash benefit of an employee is, but are nonetheless vital to the organisation.

  128. So after all your whining on Twitter about sympathy, and how you were so sad to let them go, as they were like family, you go and publish why they weren’t able to be kept? Really nicely done, I’m sure your ex-staff love you for this.

  129. Ryan,

    I really have to ask why you had a company car to sell in the first place?. As I remember 2 and a half years ago, while you were talking about dropsend, you said, “You don’t need that company car.”

    Michael

  130. I hope Jackson’s job is not in jeopardy. That would be rough.

  131. I read your posts with attention when you talk about employee, company or thing like that. It increase my expertise about company. But, maybe some words I have to you can be interesting. You talk about payment of 50% (item 3) before start the project. Maybe a Milestones scheduling, when each milestone is a step of project and step of payment. Other way is, after complete the project, try to convince the customer to apply a maintence service, who will provide services like hosting, site content update, enhancement of product and etc. It can be compensated by a monthly-fee-cash, who will pay and help you with some cash flows probs. Sure, it will have some costs, but probably will be below of fee invoiced. This service needs to be interesting and features too, according to fee invoiced. To you, the cash needs to pay 2 guys, that means: 100/men hour (maybe you know what it means).
    I hope it can be helpful.

  132. Ryan,

    This is an excellent post with valuable suggestions that everyone should be paying attention to — regardless of role or vertical. No one is impervious to the recession no matter how profitable they may be at the moment, and if they do find themselves in the black, all the more reason to cut frivolous costs wherever possible to pad themselves for after the economy rebounds.

    The other opportunity that exists is forming strategic partnerships and alliances that round out your offering — and expand your core competencies — for purposes of generating new business. Not everyone is a generalist with knowledge and skills across functions, so well-structured partnerships with key individuals could make the difference between a paying client and no client. Remember that all of nothing is still nothing so you might as well split the costs with someone who can help you generate a revenue stream.

    And, above all, be creative. Take the time to learn new things and expand your arsenal. The web allows for sharing and tapping into expertise that, in many cases, is tantamount to a classroom education, so branch out, explore, and uncover new ventures for yourself — and your business. These added specialties will serve to augment your professional worth and grow your business (and, ultimately, your profits) in the long-term anyway, and there is no more powerful motivator than a cash crisis.

  133. Good post Ryan.

    It was a shock to see the three guys go, more so because Carsonified is identifiable as a strong company with big apps and big names. I had guessed over the weekend it was a pre-emptive strike to cut costs and was more-a-less waiting for your post.

    It will be difficult for a lot of companies who haven’t been through bad times to learn the lessons they need to keep them alive, hopefully with the tips above they’ll act upon them swiftly to get them through hard times.

    Gavin

  134. I think these are all great tips that like Ian said should be used all the time. One thing that I’d add is a big plus of taking care of your big customers is chances are you next customers will be coming directly through connections with your existing happy customers. In this economy people aren’t as will take a risk to go out and try out a new company – so we turn to our friends & clients for recommendations. Making your client’s happy means they will refer you to their friends.

  135. Damn comment removed the important words… (insert enterprise name) where words are missing. Damn.

  136. If this is news now, then you are way at the back of the pack. Good advice that should have been followed in the good times as well as the bad.

    To paraphrase an American President:

    And so, my fellow : ask not what your can do for you—ask what you can do for your .

  137. Sad to see them go.

    However, I commend you all on really rocking the recession, and it’s clear that you all are actually making the right moves that make a good strong company (rather than just closing your eyes really tight and waiting for it to be over).

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