Entrepreneurship, an idea whose time is now
Call me crazy but I am set to open a new business within the next three months. I know what you’re thinking. Judette must be nuts? The economy is in free fall. Budgets have been cut. Consumer confidence is low and no one in their right mind is spending a penny. But those are exactly the reason why my colleague and friend are opening a business centre, with two locations, if you please.
Its’ not called stupidity. It’s called innovation. It’s not called bravado. It’s called called calculated risk. It is really about two people leveraging complementing skills, the talent of a cadre of free agents, existing capital (two empty buildings, we own them) in high traffic areas to meet a demand.
I am joined by scores of other small business owners who are being forced to innovate to meet the new realities. The company that installed our multi media boards recently gave up their business location and moved home to conserve cash, saving $15,000 a month in the process. A media company furloughed its employees moving 5 of them to a 4 day work week in order to conserve cash. Another client held a 75 per cent sale on old stock to access much needed capital; she raised $150,000 a month in the process.
If you own a small business, should you be nervous? Sure. Do you need to wallow in the fear. No. There are specific strategies that I follow that buoy my attitude. I am not a slave to the headlines that scream the quantity of jobs that are being cut. I remain calm in the face of 24-hour cable shows playing on my fears and trumpeting every moment of the economy’s travails. I read biographies of the entrepreneurs who made it through war, recession, depression, natural disasters and more. They inspire a can do attitiude. Finally, I exercise with a personal trainer. Pushing my body to the limit helps to stretch my mind like a super elastic band causing me to think of fresh expansive ways of viewing the world and the space ofr my business in it.
History gives great examples of the ebbs and flows of the economy and those that dared to dream. 16 of the 30 companies that make up the Dow industrial average were started during a recession or depression: Procter & Gamble, Disney, Alcoa, McDonald’s, General Electric and Johnson & Johnson.
A little over twenty years ago at the time when the United States had an unpopular president, was in the midst of the Watergate scandal and was at the tail end of an extremely costly war with consumer confidence at an all-time low.: Supercuts, Chilis, Cablevision, Famous Amos cookies, Oakley and, oh, yes, a small company called Microsoft were business ideas that flowered to life. Last week over breakfast at the Hyatt, clothing designer, Claudia Pegus, told me her atelier thrived during the recession of the 80s.
Being able to spot an opportunity and go after the dream is the stuff that entrepreneurs are made of. Some of us draw up business plans, others are driven by an inner force and have a hard time taking no for an answer. Whatever the dynamic we understand perhaps more than any other group, that economic cycles are a part of life. As the downtown aproaches we turn up our noses to the passing wind, sniff the tales it tells and begin to cut back and save. As the downturn deepens, we innovate, work on new ideas and leverage our skills set in ways that suit the times.
More than any other group, we understand that this recession is ‘normal’ in the cycle of things, and like a harsh, brutal hurricane, this too shall pass.