date.timezone = "America/Anchorage"
Starting a New Business During Recession

By Tony Ajah

The word 'recession' is no longer new or news to many of us, including those who have little or no knowledge of what it means. Experts and non-experts have one common language for the economic climate: it's rough out there. Everybody knows that. What do we do then? Live at the mercy of recession?

Recession is part of life; we are not witnessing it for the first time, neither would it be the last. However, I see recession from a whole new vantage point. Like I said in my article on Thriving in Business During Hard Times, things are not usually as bad as they seems. And that it can get so bad that there won't be a way out.

There's definitely the good side of recession if you think differently. The February edition of Harvard Business Review editorial reads: 'Some winning companies have emerged in every past recession, and this one won't be an exception'. That's an indisputable fact.

Hard times are times of fresh business opportunities. In this period, new businesses would emerge. As with other human challenges, some people would respond proactively to the realities while some others won't. Today's challenging economic environment demands entrepreneurs who truly have the eagles’ eyes to see creeping opportunities.

There's no perfect time to starting a business, and this depression should encourage rather than discourage you. Fred Deluca, an American entrepreneur taught, 'No matter what business you are thinking of, you must get started at some point'. This might be that time you might be waiting for. See the present economic situation as a life time chance. Understand the opportunity and seize it without looking back. Inaction could be the riskiest response to the uncertainties of any economic crisis.

The purpose of business is to meet needs in a unique way, and then make money in the process. (Money flows in the direction of needs). Are there no fresh needs to be met now? Of course, there are. And more would arise. 'Problems are where people live. When you mention a problem, you hit a nerve. It's what they are thinking about. And if you can address their problem, they will realise you know something important about them'. Those were the words of Robert Middleton.

Look where others don't people's needs are business opportunities. Economic downturn does not eliminate human needs, nor does it stop business life completely. Whether recession or no recession, people still have needs to be addressed. A wise man once remarked, 'Every problem is a business, and every business is someone's solution to a problem'. You can meet specialised (recession) needs in a specialised (recession) way. Did you get that?

People are always happy to pay for any problem you solve for them. They wouldn't mind borrowing, the prevailing circumstances not withstanding. Let me give you a hint: there would be need for fun and entertainment so as to relieve stress cause by the depression. Have you ever thought in that direction? Such businesses that opened in my area are having swell time, and I mean during recession. This is just the beginning.

If you have a good idea and the knowledge of what to do with the idea(s), you already have a business. Ignorance is the primary barrier to starting a business, whether in time of economic boom or meltdown. I know that you have wonderful ideas but question how to start. Your apprehension may have heightened now that there's economic instability. But our ideas must find practical expression in the business world for they are worth giving meaning to. One thing should encourage you to get started - Primarily due to changes in technology, the risk of becoming a successful business owner has been greatly reduced.

What idea do you have now? And how can it meet the market needs? When your idea meets a need, business is born. You can start a new business as an extension of your present one (if you have one already), or an entirely new one. Be bold and step out of the cube even when you don't feel like it. Business favours the bold.

Entrepreneurs are market-needs opportunists. But you’ve got to have the eyes. Closed eyes are closed opportunities - opportunity is in the eyes of the beholder. John Lubbock said, 'What we see depends mainly on what we look for'. What do you see? Time for you, your business and family to go down because of the meltdown? Or time to go up and blaze the trail? I se

I learnt that when written in Chinese, the word 'crisis', whether economic crisis or whatever, is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. If your attitude is negative, you would see things negatively, and vice versa. You choose how the recession would affect you and also what you make out of it.

Another world of opportunity is here. Without proper understanding and alignment you may miss out big time. Being flexible is one of the keys you need to sail. So learn and relearn where necessary and unimaginable doors will be opened for you. Starting a new business could be the bail-out you need in the wake of dwindling savings and increasing expenses.

I will be having an intensive business session on turning your ideas into wealth during recession. For details get my attention. A wise man said, 'There has to market need for what you do; you have to have the competency to meet the need; and you have to have the passion to fulfil it. So, look where these three things are, and you have a brilliant career'. What are you waiting for? It's up to you to make that your idea happen!

Tony Ajah is a Business Growth Strategist, and the Principal Strategist, TA Strategic Solutions, a Lagos-based firm that is into business growth and development. He can be reached via, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

21 April, 2009.


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