How to spot business opportunities in a down economy

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Beginning a new business is daunting, no matter when one chooses to do so. Starting a new business when the economy slows down may seem more overwhelming. Still, if you know where to look for opportunities, potential business owners may find that an economic downturn is an ideal time to start a business venture.

Be prepared when opportunity knocks

One of how fledgling business owners can take benefit of economic changes is by being prepared for such times. Kyle Theil, the owner of The Visual Realm, a Tampa-based web design firm, encourages all business proprietors to be ready for the economy slowing down at all times. “Monitor your expenses and cut back where you can,” Theil says. “It’s important to keep an eye on your bottom line and ensure you’re not taking on too much debt.”

Theil also urges business owners to make connections with others. “Networking with other entrepreneurs can help you stay ahead of the curve and learn about new opportunities as they arise,” he says.

Do your research

Slumps have happened many times before, so company owners have the opportunity to learn from the past. Natalia Morozova, a Managing Partner at Cohen, Tucker & Ades P.C., a New York City-based immigration law firm, suggests learning about your industry’s economic downturn history. “Fledgling business owners should also understand the unique demands of their industry during this economic climate. Research what happened in your industry and the competition during previous recessions,” she says. “Is your industry traditionally hit hard during an economic downturn, or are there key areas of development you could take advantage of to help your business survive?”

“Networking with other entrepreneurs can help you stay ahead of the curve and learn about new opportunities as they arise.”

Additionally, Morozova suggests collaborating with others in your industry who have been via a recession. “Seek counsel from other business owners and entrepreneurs who made it through economic downturns in the past—they’ll have first-hand insight into how this could affect your business,” she says.

Deliver value to your customers

When the economy stalls down, many people look for ways to save money individually and for their businesses. Providing value for your customers will help you maintain their business, according to Shaun Martin, owner of Denver Home Buyer in Denver, Colorado. “In a downturn, people are looking for ways to save money, and they’re more likely to appreciate companies that offer products or services that help them do just that,” Martin says.

Kyle Theil also advises business owners to add value to their services by helping customers save money. “Many companies are looking to cut costs and increase efficiency,” Theil says. “As a result, there is an increased demand for consultants who can help organizations streamline their operations. If you have management consulting experience or expertise in process improvement, you may be able to find work helping companies navigate these difficult waters.”

Start dedicated customers in your business

New industries need to provide value first and foremost, but they also need to give their customers a reason to keep coming back. Steve Wilson, Founder of Bankdash, an online informational tool for choosing financial institutions, says, “Create raving fans out of your customers or clients.”

“By consistently offering them goods or services that are better than their realistic expectations in terms of quality and value, customers cannot operate their enterprises without your assistance,” Wilson says. “You can nurture your current customers by establishing genuine connections with them and assuring their contentment. It will boost your client’s lifetime value, which is a reliable measure of your business’s long-term survival and financial stability. They’ll not only keep buying from you, but they’ll also recommend your business to others.”

Assume an investment

Hanging an economic crisis into a business opportunity might also be possible if you have some capital to invest. Businesses that suffer in 2020’s rapid economic changes may look for investors, or try to get out of the market entirely by selling the business.

If you do consider selling, buying a business, or an investment, you’re well-advised to talk to a lawyer about whether the deal is fair.

Allen notes that some may take advantage of other people’s misfortune during a bad economy, and she strongly recommends against it as a business strategy. In addition to being bad PR, price gouging is illegal in many states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sudden economic downturns can frighten people who have dropped their hearts and fortunes into their businesses. But with some bravery and creativity—the same qualities that made you an entrepreneur—you can identify business opportunities even in tough times.

Finding gaps in the market to fill with your new business venture takes research, patience, and dedication on the part of a new business owner, but establishing a new business during a recession does not have to be a bad idea. Taking benefit of an opportunity during an economic downturn can prove highly profitable. By identifying needs and filling them for customers, businesses can weather the temporary constraints of a recession and emerge as strong and prosperous ventures as the thrift eventually stabilizes.