Natural Life Magazine

Starting a New Business in Hard Times

Starting a New Business in Hard Times
by Wendy Priesnitz

Because I used to teach and coach owners of home-based micro-businesses, I have been hearing lately from some friends and acquaintances who are thinking about starting home businesses. But, many of them wonder, with the poor economy and increasing unemployment, is now a good time to start?

I don't have a crystal ball that will allow me to predict what will happen with the economy. But the answer to those questions really depends upon your timing and the type of business you want to run.

This is obviously not the time to start a high-risk or high overhead retail business. However, the planning and start-up process - if done properly - should take you at least a few months (especially if you are still employed). So you need to project the state of the economy (and your target market) at least that far into the future, rather than dwell on what it's like now. You may not even have a problem, since things may be on the upswing again by the time you are ready to start calling on customers. (Or not! Nobody ever said entrepreneurship was risk-free.)

Beyond that short time-frame, as with any business start-up, you must determine whether or not there is - and will continue to be - a market for your service or product.

There probably will be future hard times and recessions, so if you plan to be in business for the long haul, you should factor market fluctuations into your business planning.

There are many service businesses that tend to be recession-resistant and even flourish when the economy is on either the upswing or downswing. This is when companies often contract work out rather than hire new employees.

With this in mind, you might consider (based on your skills and interests, of course) offering business-to-business services like computer consulting; repair services; resume writing; secretarial and other office support services; and training, tutoring, and coaching.

Any business in the health care industry is probably also a good bet. This includes anything from medical services such as claims assistance and transcribing to wellness services and products benefiting the aging baby boomer population.

Anything in the financial services field should thrive right now. This includes bookkeeping, proposal and grant writing, business brokering, debt collection, credit counseling, and tax preparation.

Home repair and maintenance services tend to sustain themselves during recessionary times. This includes things like plumbing, electrical, renovations, house cleaning, landscaping, and roof repair. Some of these things simply need to be done when a problem arises; others are a result of people's tendency to stay home and feather their nests when the world becomes a scary place.

And sadly, security services are also in high demand during financial downturns.

While, in the past, the green sector hasn't always been financially resistant, I think that times and changing as people become aware of the climate crisis we're in. So you might also consider businesses that help individuals and other businesses become more sustainable. For instance, you might investigate sustainability consulting, home energy audits, renewable energy, market gardening, natural baby products, or organic/vegetarian/vegan catering.

So look at your skills and interests (as well as available capital, time, and family support), then match them to the need in your area of expertise, and go for it!

Wendy Priesnitz is the editor of Natural Life Magazine and the author of 13 books,including Bringing it Home (now out of print).


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