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Start-up Advice

9 Reasons to Start a Business in a Recession

More publicity. Less competition. Talent waiting to be scooped up. Here’s why starting a business in a recessed economy may give your business a better shot.

Brad Sugars

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Upset businessman in front of a computer

Do you have one good reason to start your business right now?

How about nine? Regardless of what people around you (including the media) may say, right now is the best time to get into business. Just go back and look at the economic slowdowns throughout history. Most recessions in the post-World War II era last an average of 10 months, followed by growth cycles that last an average of 50months.

What this means for the start-up is there’s no better time than right now to get going and start pursuing your business dreams – in anticipation of the next period of growth. Here are my nine reasons why you should start your business now – despite the current downturn:

1. Everything is cheaper.

Let’s face it: There is great value right now in world markets. This is the right time for fantastic deals in virtually every category, from land and equipment to commercial office space, personnel and labour. As asset prices have been knocked down, there is no better time to get into the real estate or financial markets, or even heavy equipment and construction. Some people have waited years to find value in these markets – and now that time has come.

2. You can hire more and better-qualified people.

In an era when even Microsoft is laying off, you can find great resources at affordable rates. Thinking about getting your high-tech start-up off the ground? There are plenty of engineers waiting to be hired. Thinking about forming a professional services firm? There are many accountants and attorneys looking for their next opportunity.

3. People are looking to change suppliers.

From a cost perspective, everything is on the table for most companies. Even if your prices are higher, if you can come in with greater value, you have a good chance at winning new business. You also have the advantage of being the new kid on the block when it comes to pitching your products and services. Many companies are desperate to find new partnerships with new companies that have a different, better or more innovative way of delivering those products and services.

4. Family and friends don’t want to (or can’t) invest more money into the stock or real estate markets.

That means they may be willing to finance a portion of your new venture, or the expansion of an enterprise that has proven itself over time. The main benefit is that they know you and have a relationship with you – and if you have a solid business plan that delivers real numbers, your chances of raising the capital you need increase exponentially.

5. Suppliers are giving better credit.

Because the credit markets have virtually shut down, the B2B credit flows are keeping money circulating out of sheer necessity. That means a bullish outlook for companies looking for good terms on stock and/or inventories. The main advantage is that all parties have more incentive than ever for finding true win-win situations that allow for cash and stock flow. When everyone is looking to survive, great deals can be had.

6. You can get good PR by showing you are going against the trend.

The media loves aberrations, and if you are optimistic by expanding or getting into business now, you would be in that category. That means you can generate some great PR by demonstrating your “alternative” view of the market.

7. You can buy everything you need at auction.

In addition to everything being less expensive, you can find great deals at auctions, especially in terms of any large equipment and office furnishings. Auctions are also a great place to find hardly used or “gently” used restaurant and bar supplies at great prices. These days, you may even be able to get deals on fleets of vehicles and trucks for a delivery service or hauling or construction company.

8. You can find great “low money” or “no money” down deals.

This is simply being aware of good opportunities others have buggered up, and finding deals where you could get an entire business simply by taking over a lease (along with all the equipment). Many business owners want out at any cost, meaning you can negotiate great win-win deals that allow the current owners an escape while giving you an opportunity to turn around what could be,if run right, a very viable business.

And finally .. .

9. You’ve lost your job, and you have to do something.

Sometimes,the best business decision is the one you are forced into, and the incentive(as well as need) for income is often enough to push those previously “on the fence” to strike out on their own. There’s nothing wrong with being in this position; it simply means there is greater urgency to do something that will start to generate income as quickly as possible. There you have it: nine good reasons to start your business in a recession. After all, the odds are on your side that the expansion will be many times more robust than the present slowdown.

There’s no better time to start than the present, especially if people around you are more comfortable with their own list of reasons why they shouldn’t start pursuing their own business dreams right now. It only means you’ll be facing a lot less competition.

Brad Sugars is a startup expert and the writer of 14 business books including “The Business Coach”, “Instant Cashflow”, “Successful Franchising” and “Billionaire in Training”. He is the founder of ActionCOACH, a business coaching franchise.

Start-up Advice

Put On Your Wellies: It’s Time To Wade Into Risk

Entrepreneurs aren’t all leaping into the unknown like lemmings off a cliff, but they do need to consider it…

Chris Ogden

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risk-management-rain-boots

You’ve had a great idea. You’ve looked into its development. You’ve recognised that it has potential beyond just what Auntie Mabel and Mike From The Grocer think. And you’ve clearly nailed a pain point that can make money. Now it is time to take the risk of running with it.

Every big idea comes with risk. You can’t step out into the world of entrepreneurial thinking and business development without it. Your idea may fail. It will also be time consuming, demanding, hungry for money, and hard work. It is unrealistic to expect that your project will leap out into the world and be an unmitigated success.

It is also unrealistic to assume that it isn’t worth taking this risk.

There are steps that you can follow to ensure that your risk is managed so you aren’t blindly leaping off that cliff…

Step 01: Do your research

No, canvassing your neighbours, friends and family is not doing research. You need to know that your idea will appeal to a broad market and that it will have significant legs. This may sound like daft advice, but you would be surprised how many people think an idea will take off just because Susan in Accounting said so.

Step 02: Understand the costs

Projects are hungry for money and investment. Realistically work out your budgets and how much it will cost to take your project off the ground and then stick to it.

A calculated risk is a far better bet than one that shoots from the hip and hopes for the best. You can also use this as an opportunity to draw a clear line under where you will stop investing and end the project. If it keeps eating money and isn’t getting anywhere with results you need to be able to walk away.

Step 03: Know when to walk away

As mentioned before, this can be defined by a line you’ve drawn in the proverbial sand (and budget) but no matter where you draw this line, you have to stick to it. Often, when time, money and energy have been poured into a project it can be incredibly hard to walk away.

You think ‘but I have put so much into this, just one more’ and then it gets to a point where the ‘just one more’ has taken you so far down the line that walking away feels impossible. Leave. Learn the lessons. Apply them to your next project.

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Start-up Advice

Mind The Gap

The entrepreneur’s guide to finding the gaps and building the right solutions.

Chris Ogden

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entrepreneurship-gap

Innovation may very well be the key to business success but finding the gap into which your innovative thinking can fit is often a lot harder than people realise. Some may be struck by inspiration in the shower, others by that moment of blinding insight in a meeting, however, for most people finding that big idea isn’t that simple. They want to be an entrepreneur and start their own high-growth business, but they need some ideas on how to find that big idea.

Here are five…

1. Network

It sounds trite but networking is actually an excellent way of picking up on patterns and trends in conversation and business problems. The trick is to note them down and pay attention. Soon, you will find patterns emerging and ideas forming.

2. Look for pain

Just as networking can reveal trends in the market, so can spending time reading. The latter will also help you find common business pain points. These are the touchpoints that frustrate people, annoy business owners, affect productivity, or impact employee engagement.

Be the Panado that fixes these pains.

3. Luck

luck

This is probably the most annoying of the ideas, but it is unfortunately (or fortunately) very true. Luck does play a role in helping you capture that big idea. However, luck isn’t just standing around and random people offering you opportunities. Luck is found at networking events, it is found in research and it is found in conversations with other entrepreneurs.

4. Luck needs courage

You may have found the big idea through your network, a pain point or pure blind luck, but if you don’t have the courage to take it and run with it, you will lose it to someone else.

Being bold in business is highly underrated because most people assume that everyone is bold and prepared to take big leaps into the unknown. However, not all brilliant entrepreneurs were ready to throw their family funds to the wind and leap into an idea – they were courageous enough to figure out a way of harnessing their ideas realistically.

5. Pay attention

This is probably one of the most vital ways of finding a gap in the market. Often, people are so busy that they don’t really pay attention to that niggling issue that always bothers them on a commute, or in a mall, or at a meeting. This niggling issue could very well be the next big business opportunity. Pay attention to it and find out if that issue can be solved with your innovative thinking.

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Start-up Advice

5 Things To Know About Your “Toddler” Business

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind.

Catherine Black

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small-business-start-up

Ah, toddlers. Those irresistible bundles of joy bring a huge amount of energy, curiosity and fun to any family – but there’s also frustration and worry that comes with their unpredictability, as they grow and start to become more independent. If you own a business and it’s successfully past its “infancy” of the first year or so, it’s likely it will also go through a toddler stage of its lifecycle.

Pete Hammond, founder of luxury safari company SafariScapes, agrees with this. “Our business is now three and a half years old, and we’ve found that we’re not yet big enough to justify employing a large team of people to handle the day-to-day admin tasks, yet we still need to grow the business as well,” he says. “As a result, our main challenge is finding the time to step back and see the bigger picture. Kind of like when you are raising a busy toddler and you spend most of your time running after them!”

As you navigate this new toddler phase of your business, here are five things to bear in mind:

1. This too shall pass

Everything in life is temporary – and that goes for both the good and the bad. It’s as helpful to remember this when you’re facing the might of a toddler temper tantrum, as it is when you’re facing throws of uncertainty in your business. If your new(ish) venture is going through a rough patch in its first few years, it can be easy to think about giving up – but don’t. As long as you have an overall big idea that you believe can add value to your customers, keep pushing through the rough parts until you come out the other side.

2. Appreciate what this phase brings

The toddler years mean that the initial newborn joy is officially behind you. But these small humans also bring their own kinds of joy, as you watch them learn new skills, say funny things, and give affection back to you. While your two-year-old business may not hold the same exhilaration for you as it did during those first few months, there are now different things to appreciate about it: Maybe you’re expanding your product range, or employing new people who can take the workload off you.

3. Establish boundaries

Toddlers thrive on boundary and routine – and your toddler business will too. As it grows into a new phase, try and establish limits in terms of the type of clients you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do. It’s also a good idea to make a decision about the hours you’ll work and when you’ll switch off, which will help you establish a good work-life balance.

4. Take a break

Every parent with a toddler needs a break every now and then, even if that means a walk around the block (on your own!), a dinner out with friends, or even a few days away. The same is true for a demanding small business: every so often, remember to take time out to rest properly, where you switch off your laptop and completely unplug. You’ll return much more inspired and resilient to deal with the everyday uncertainty that it brings.

5. Give it space to make mistakes

While the unpredictability of a young business can be stressful and tiring, it’s also a time for trying new things without the risk of huge consequences if they don’t quite work. After all, it’s much simpler to change your USP if you’re a small business employing a few people, rather than a big company where 50 people are relying on you for their salary, or where you’ve received a huge amount of investment capital. While you may fail in some of the things you try with your business (in fact, this is almost guaranteed), see it as a toddler that’s resilient enough to pick itself up, dust its knees and keep moving forward.

During this phase of business growth it’s also essential to have the right type of medical aid cover. There are medical schemes such as Fedhealth which has a number of medical aid options and value-added benefits to ensure that your health and wellness is taken care of too. After all, the healthier you and your staff are, the more productive your business will be – during the toddler (business) stage and beyond.

While this phase can be frustrating, it’s a sign that your business is growing and adapting, rather than remaining in its infancy, and that can only be a good thing! So embrace the difficulties, learn from them, and watch as your business strides forward confidently into the next exciting phase.

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