Bad times can be good for small business!

By: Ari

I came across an interesting ViewPoint in Business Week yesterday: titled “The Crisis May Be a Boon for Some Small Businesses”. The author Gene Marks has some straight forward comments and tips such as:

1) In bad financial times your bank will suddenly be more interested in you (the small business) so try and take advantage.

2) Instead of investing some profits in the stock market take it and invest in your business!

3) Worried about your own financials? We all are. Taking a close look at our balance sheet may teach us a thing or two about what we have and perhaps where we can save. On a side note – in my previous life as an attorney I recall some clients saying that going public was the first time they ever really looked at their books closely and not leave it for their accountants. I believe this is true also for a small business and something for all to think about.
There are a few more comments you can read in the article.

There is indeed no doubt that bad economic times can also mean opportunity for those who may be hurting (or think they are hurting) in the short term.
In another recent article, Rhonda Abrams at USAToday writes: “youre going to think Im nuts, but listen up. Because right now is a terrific time to start a new business.” I agree.

Rhonda provides great examples of (big) companies that launched during a recession or depression time:

“16 of the 30 companies that make up the Dow industrial average were started during a recession or depression. These include Procter & Gamble, Disney, Alcoa, McDonalds, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson.”
Rhonda also compares the our time to the early 70s when we had the oil crisis, Watergate and the end of a war to deal with and many great companies that started just at that time.

OK. We may not be GE but all of us running (or thinking or starting) a small business can take away a few good lessons from the article:

1. Lower opportunity cost – don’t leave a good job but if you are out of a job, just out of school or just looking to start something new. Bad times are when you have less to lose!
2. Disruption – because when things change there is always opportunity:

• Weakened competitors
• Customers seeking cheaper alternatives
• Big corporations cut back
• Loyalties loosen
• Being the inexpensive alternative
• Market aggressively
• Innovation
• Being an outsource source for big corporations
• Hedging
• Expanding

I am sure each of you can figure out what may apply, or not, but there is no doubt that there is great opportunity and we should all focus on that.

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As always, we appreciate your thoughts and feedback.