3 stories of small business owners who have survived the recession

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Graffiti Monster Eating Human (Photo credit: epSos.de)

In tough times the best small businesses learn how to survive and thrive. Small business owners who don’t want to come up with new ways to run their business, new business ideas and systems simply close shop. Each business owner will find their own solution to the challenge they face – the best solution for their business circumstances.

Here are three stories of small business owners and entrepreneurs who faced huge challenges in this downturn but have come out better for it:

Frank Muscarello lost his business five years ago selling cash registers when the bank called in their loan. Because Frank couldn’t sell his cash registers quickly enough he had to close the business. He has now built an online marketplace where companies can buy and sell refurbished computers, servers and other high-tech equipment online. But he keeps no stock. His new business is less vulnerable to economic downturns and has an inventory-less business model.

Father and daughter business owners Don and Caroline Wallace were running a business specialising in making corporate name badges and branded promotional products for the retail and hospitality markets. Their customers’ businesses were severely affected by the downturn and their turnover collapsed. Don and Caroline needed to find another source of income. They travelled the country looking to identify their next big idea. In Belfast near the shipyard area of the city they discovered a small alterations business called The Zip Yard. They got to work, met the owners of the shop and built a franchise model from this business and now have grown to 25 stores in Ireland. Their business model has expanded beyond basic alterations to include services such as restyling and remodelling, dry cleaning, bridal alterations, zip replacements and the repair of motor bike leathers.

A restaurant owner Mark Viggiano saw his restaurant business decline so he decided to scale back and restart. He’s cut his opening hours back to serving only dinner and is closed Mondays. Mark lowered his overhead cost drastically from 55 staff down to 14. Reservations are online so he no longer needs a receptionist to take phone bookings. He does the work in the kitchen, does his own food shopping instead of having it delivered and through renegotiation with his landlord has had his rent lowered. His restaurant business has a better cash flow and his business is slower but more recession-resistant.

Some people scoff at life-long learning but these entrepreneurs show that coming up with new ideas, learning how to reshape and redefine their businesses and even start new ones, they become stronger and are better positioned to trade in hard times.

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