Five Ways to Start A Small Business in a Bad Economy

Posted on February 3, 2009. Filed under: Starting a Small Business |

Well, it looks like the ‘downturn’ that we have been hearing about is going to stick around for a while. The unemployment rate is up, companies are struggling to survive, people are losing their homes, and many are looking for new answers to their money delimas. I listen to Bloomberg, CNN, Fox News, NPR, etc. while in my car everyday on Sirius radio. I keep hoping to hear some good news, but it keeps getting worse. One of the main problems is simply fear. People who do have money to spend just aren’t spending it. They are cutting back on their expenses and that could be viewed as a good thing. We all need a to look at our budgets and try to be more realistic about what we really need and what we really don’t need. But what does it mean for business owners?

There are Examples Companies That Are Suffering and Others That Are Thriving

I hear about restauranteers who are suffering. Dining out is simply not one of those expenses that people are willing to pay for right now. I hear about how Netflix, the online movie rental company, is doing great! More people have decided to stay home and watch a movie instead of going to the theatres. I mean really, why is it that a movie ticket costs so little but if you want to eat some popcorn or a drink while you watch your movie, it costs you 3x what it cost you to see the movie? Maybe the theatres need to come up with another model. What if people could bring in their own popcorn? What if they were to serve healthier foods so that people felt a little better about what they are spending their money on? What if they served meals that could help customers  justify spending the extra money because it was a ‘meal’ instead of just an outrageously expensive snack. I can’t feed my children dinner at the theatres because nachos and a hot dog aren’t the healthiest of meals…. And frankly I hate hot dogs, and the cheese sauce they put on the nachos… I mean come on!

What  Can Businesses Do To Make a Profit? Listen to the People!

If you are a company trying to survive in this economy, or a potential business owner who wants to know what kind of business will thrive in this economy, you need to listen to the people. If they are cutting out your services or products as a way to save money, what can you do to lure them back in again? Staying with your current model just might not keep you a float. There are companies that are doing well during the downturn and in fact are thriving. What are they doing? They are asking and they are listening to the consumer! Try talking to your customers. Find out what might lure them back in. Read newspapers, listen to the news, anywhere you can get information about what people are buying will help you.

How To Find Out The Information You Need

There are so many great tools on the web to find out what people want. One survey tool I really like is www.surveymonkey.com. Email your customers with a survey. Ask them to rate your services or products. Suggest new ways you might be able to satisfy their needs and ask them to choose. And always have at least one suggestion box for customers to write what they have on their minds. This information is invaluable to you as a business owner.

Right Now is an Excellent Time to Start An Online Business

 Right now is an excellent time to start a new venture online. I know that sounds crazy but hear me out. You know what people are saying about what they are willing to spend their money on if you just read the newspapers. Luxury items might be the area you want to stay away from unless your prices are reasonable, and you are offering them somehting that they are willing to spend their money on during difficult times. Did you know that right now money managers, psychologists, business consultants, online marketing companies, and even hosting companies are growing? This could be because this is what is needed right now.

Five Ways to Start a Small Business Using Online Tools

If you have lost your job or are fearful of losing your job, consider this: what if you were to setup an online storefront to sell something that people need. Here are some suggestions of mine. They are simply suggestions and you should really use them as a way to get your brain moving in the right direction. Come up with something unique and marketable, and you could actually make money during a downturn. You could even end up making more money than you did in your previous job.

1. Sell on Ebay, or Craigslist: This is a great place to get your ‘feet wet’. Sell some things that you have around the house. Things that people are looking for. How about clothes? Instead of paying high prices at a department store, many people are buying ‘gently used’ clothes. Especially children’s clothes since children grow so fast that they need new clothes all the time. Sell baby things like cribs, rocking chairs etc. Once again these are expensive items if bought new, so many people are shopping online for them. Just go to www.ebay.com or www.craigslist.com. There are other sites you can sell on but these two are the most used right now.

2. Start an ecommerce site. It is easier than you think. We offer website hosting with a website design tool called Site Symphony that has a site creator AND an ecommerce software element built in! All you need to do is pick out a template, fill in your company information, and put in your products. You will need to get a merchant account and a payment gateway, which are once again easier to get than you think. With our partners you can go to one place and get them both simply by filling out an online form. That’s it!

3. Use Innovative Ideas to Market that Don’t Cost Much Money. You would be amazed at how many ways you can market your company or products by simply using your imagination. Pass out flyers at the mall. If your products are cheaper and better, maybe they will just go home and buy them online and save a bundle. Put a marketing magnet on your car. Youcan get one for around $100 at any banner printing company. Then everybody you drive by will see your company and it’s toll free number and website address. I have found more businesses by simply seeing their car magnet and calling them when I get home. The Yellow Pages can’t hold a candle to free advertising.

4. Purchase a Previously Owned Franchise. Don’t look into franchising without first looking for franchise owner’s trying to sell! You can find real deals. One place that you can look for businesses for sale is: www.bizbuysell.com.

5. Buy a business that is for sale. You can find these at www.bizbuysell.com as well. It’s much cheaper and faster to buy someone elses business than to start from scratch. Just keep in mind that they might be selling it because it isn’t profitable. Don’t let this scare you. If you can come up with some simple ways to make their business a profit, you could get a real deal. I’ve heard of  people simply painting the interior or using their marketing skills to make a company a profit. Just use your imagination. They might be sick of the company and just don’t want to worry with it anymore. You have a fresh new eye and motivation. Just what an older business might need!

So, I hope these ideas will help you find your new venture. It is a big bold world out there. And if you just take a leap of faith, you too could be one of the millions who are profiting during this downturn.

Good luck!

Tamara Field
President, Apollo Hosting
www.apollohosting.com
CEO, Press 8 Communications
www.press8.com


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