The Book

Surviving the Business Storm Cycle

Have you ever watched a company implode? It happens to the best of companies. If you’re on the outside looking in, you may say to yourself, “ Wow! Somebody did something wrong!” And if you’re on the inside looking out, you’re probably beating your head against the wall, trying to figure out what went wrong. Most times, though, the truth is this: no one did anything wrong. In fact, a lot of people probably did a lot of things right. So why do perfectly healthy businesses suddenly start slipping downward?

To answer this question, Dave Hopson has developed a model known as the Business Storm Cycle. In his book Surviving the Business Storm Cycle: How to Weather Your Business’s Ups and Downs, he demonstrates how each of the cycle’s phases requires a different approach. Learning to recognize the cycle’s phases and how to react to each phase is critical to being a solid, growing, exciting company versus a company that simply hangs on from one crisis to the next.

Dave has helped numerous companies prepare for these predictable phases. The key is scalability and seamlessness between each element that makes your company tick. This book will help you to understand what each phase of the business cycle can entail, what can be done to be prepared, and how to transition on to the next phase. Cycles are a beautiful reality in nature; it is not surprise that they are also observed in the business world. Learn Dave Hopson’s secret to surviving the business life cycle today.

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View the Foreword and Epilogue


I first met Dave Hopson at our local yacht club, where we were part of the race committee team. Dave was responsible for our race support boats, so before I had any professional contact with him, I’d already learned that he’s a dependable person who always shows up and gets the job done. He’s never let me down. Since then, Dave and I have broadened our friendship to include our businesses.

I’m an investment manager, the retired chairman and CEO of an investment banking firm with offices throughout North America. It was my responsibility to build a regional securities firm into a national organization, which we did over about a three-year tenure. I also have owned a manufacturing company that, in today’s dollars, increased from about $30 million in revenues and sales in the United States and Canada to about $100 million in revenues with sales in nine countries. All this means that I have experienced and managed rapid growth myself, as an investment banker and also as a business owner. I’ve been through what Dave calls the Tornado. What Dave’s given to me now, through his book, are two new ways of looking at what I’ve experienced.

First, Dave has applied life-cycle theory to business growth in a way I’ve never seen before. His model gives practical insights into the skill sets and methodologies needed to manage each phase of the business cycle. Enterprises that master the storm cycle he describes will be able to thrive. Eventually, they may even be able to build a business portfolio where each piece is in a different phase—some going through start-up or consolidation, while others are whirling in Tornados, and still others are dropping into Avalanche mode—and yet because they’ve mastered the cycle, their business as a whole will be able to move forward smoothly, like an ocean liner that’s able to stay on an even keel despite the troughs and peaks of the individual waves that beat against its hull.

The second concept I found most useful in this book, one that I’ve never seen so clearly expressed, is the equilateral triangle of people, process, and technology. Instances of businesses that are unable to maintain this triangle are common. You can’t pay attention to your people and process and ignore your technology—and by the same token, you can’t focus on technology without bringing your people and process along with you. Dave makes this abundantly clear.

Don’t expect Dave to be the sort of author, however, who will outline the philosophical framework to help you become a more effective businessperson. Dave’s not speaking hypothetically in this book. He’s not a professor expostulating a theory but rather a practitioner speaking from years of experience. He’s been there, done that. When Dave describes the phases of the Business Storm Cycle, he knows exactly what he’s talking about. On top of that, he lays out his model clearly, in plain language.

If you’re a business owner or executive, you need this book. Dave’s message applies to every business, large or small, product based or service oriented. All Tornados come to an end, and Avalanches are inevitable—but Dave will help your business navigate successfully through the Business Storm Cycle, again and again.

So read the book. Find out what it takes to empower your business in a new way.

—Lawrence J. Rogers


I first met Dr. Hopson at an oil and gas company about ten years ago when we worked together on a project. Later, after I went to Headwind Energy to be IT director of the North American Platform, Dave was the consultant who helped me take Headwind through the processes he’s described in this book. The expertise, knowledge, and capabilities he brought with him allowed us to transform Headwind’s IT organization so that it effectively lined up with our people and processes.

After reading this book, I have a new vocabulary to describe what I experienced at Headwind and throughout my life in the business world. We definitely went through all the phases and transition points of the Business Storm Cycle. I didn’t understand then that it was cyclical, though. All I knew was that we had to keep going through the processes over and over. After reading Dr. Hopson’s book, I know now that’s normal. I seem to be frequently hired by businesses when they’re in the consolidation phase. My job is always to get the three sides of Dave’s people-process-technology triangle in balance. I’m looking forward now to applying the models I discovered when reading this book. They’ve given my understanding of business ups and downs a new clarity. With Dr. Hopson’s terminology and visual diagrams to reveal what’s really going
on, everything falls into place.

You, too, have probably struggled with your business as it has experienced these phases—but what Dave offers is the ability to execute the steps necessary for success. Many people have good ideas, but if you can’t bring them to fruition—if you can’t say, “Here’s what we should be doing”—then all you have are ideas. Dave knows how to apply his ideas to real life. He delivers the know-how to see them through. Dr. Hopson’s practical insights can move you from a reactive stance to a proactive one. When you understand the Business Storm Cyle and when you are able to recognize the phases and transition points, you’ll be able to minimize the negative impacts on your company and instead use the phases to your advantage.

Now that we’ve been educated about what’s going, Dave has also set us a new bar for leadership. His call to us as business leaders is to spread his message to our companies. Even if those we lead aren’t able to grasp the technological execution, understanding the cycle will give them new optimism and confidence, especially during the Avalanche periods. They’ll be able to take action to consolidate and move on to the next phase of the cycle.


—David Edwards


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“For some reason it seems we often have to be reminded of the fundamentals before we can resume moving forward. In Surviving the Business Cycle Storm, Dave does just that. He reminds us that the ups and downs are normal and encourages us to be objective about what phase of the cycle we are facing now. Once known, he reminds us that technology alone won’t help allow us to ride the tornado to new heights or overcome the avalanche’s downward pull. Only investing in people and process ALONG WITH technology will help us outlast the storms. Take Dave’s lessons to heart, and you’ll be ahead of the weather!”

Richard M. Scruggs

Principal, Winston Sage Partners

“Dave has nailed the IT/business relationship. I have been caught up in the Business Storm Cycle several times and have learned the hard way how to get through it. Dave succinctly and intelligently describes how IT should infiltrate, operate, and fade away at each crucial phase of the Business Storm Cycle. If you use this as a guide in your environment, you can accelerate your journey through the storm and return to predictable operations more quickly. It will help your team survive the Avalanche, tame the Tornado, streamline consolidating, and enjoy the high energy of the start-up phase.”

Cameron Williams

Director of IT Operations, Severstal

“It never ceases to amaze me how often we lose our grip on results. Dave’s ideas will cure that. He paints a clear line about how to combine innovative with practical and make real things happen. Take a look at what Dave has to say, get ready to go to work and get results.”

Tom Franklin

Global Director, Tata Consultancy Services - Petroleum Center of Excellence