With all the gloomy news around, negative talk and depressing thoughts one can easily and quickly slide into a blue funk and not recognise the opportunities that others don’t see.
It would be foolish to open a business in the eye of an economic storm. But recessionary times do provide opportunities that others may not see.
I’m not saying you have to be hard on yourself or anything like that. Force yourself to come up with ideas to start a new business. No, not at all. But it may be an opportune time to look around, see where others are making mistakes or serve customers better than they are presently being catered for.
Despite this recession some small businesses seem to be making so much money that they are embarrassed to tell you what’s really going on. These are businesses that have got into supplying modern-day necessities that they can charge what they want for. If you asked them how they doing, they’ll tell you the business is doing badly but that’s because they hardly want to let slip just how well they are doing.
One of the things that makes starting a business now more viable is the lower cost of money. Interest rates are pathetically low (but watch this carefully) and any sort of business investment would make much more financial sense. Just think about it – the interest rates are something in the area of 5% while net profits can be anything upwards of 15%.
Okay, you probably have doubts that it is a good time to start a business. But look around. You’ll see that there is still strong demand from consumers for basic products and those that are going to help them make money or save money.
Another thing: competitors are weaker because of the recession. If you can see a gap opening up in the marketplace as a competitor closes the doors or cells were is retiring, perhaps is a niche market for your product or service.
I’m not trying to convince you. You’ve got to look around yourself. A lot of things are cheaper now. Prices for items like office space are cheaper because there’s more supply. Look at it this way, you can get a lot more discounts out of suppliers. You’ve got stronger negotiation and buying power.
Consumers have lost their trust in big companies. What this means is that the smaller independent can compete on better quality service and offering a good deal to customers. It’s no use for a small business to compete on price against the giant retailers but they can with different quality goods. For example, I recently saw a small pouch in an independent that costs R50 ($5.5). The larger chains are selling these same small pouches (which you can put your cellphone or small electronic devices inside) for R350 ($38.5). The cheaper product does the same job as the one that’s seven times more expensive. Sourcing lower cost items that are of reasonably good quality puts you in a stronger position with the mass market.
Now is also a good time for testing ideas. If your business idea is good enough, consumers, consumers may well pre-purchase so they can get in first. Crowd funding simply means that you advertise your product or service and obtain pre-orders. In this way customers have the opportunity to support your business and they may even feel a sense of control in that they can support who they want to.
It’s a good time to start a business because there are so many experts that can help you. Mentors can show you what works and what doesn’t. They can put you in touch with the right people in your speciality and show you how to overcome obstacles, motivate you to keep your focus when times get tough and give you emotional support.
You don’t have to be hard on yourself and do any of this in a big way. You start small. Baby steps. Do little things to advance your business idea. Start looking around for something you could sell. Maybe visit existing retailers. See what’s selling. Talk to people. Spot trends. Just keep moving forward one step at a time. Soon you’ll find you have something worth trying out and making some extra money on the side for yourself.