You could actually find that it may be during a downturn… as many perceived obstacles are actually opportunities if you are aware of them and take advantage.
Having started my own business in 2006, I have both grown my own business during the last downturn from 2008-2013 as well as help hundreds of small business owners to grow too.
It was one of the reasons I launched my own online training course in 2016 – to help people avoid the common mistakes when starting a business and also focus on minimising the risks as well as the costs.
Lack of available finance
While restricted availability of finance might be seen as an obstacle, it can actually be beneficial.
Too many times people start out in business and take on finance to buy the latest equipment or to spend large amounts on services that turn out to provide ineffective benefits.
With a restriction in place, it means that people will look to maximise their limited resources – which will benefit the business.
It also avoids being taken in by people selling hope as you have an instant protection ‘it’s not in the budget’ – something I mention in my course. Sadly, not everyone is entirely accurate in their benefit predictions for the services they are offering. Having restricted finance protects you from the very expensive ones, while also maximising the benefits from those that you have trialled and seen to work.
Low marketing budget
Leading on from the lack of available finance, this will focus you to trial different methods at low cost in order to see what works and then pursue it with an increasing budget paid for from actual sales rather than debt.
You can waste large amounts of money on ineffective marketing if you are not careful, so being focussed will also help the business to succeed.
One other benefit of starting a business during a downturn is that many other businesses reduce their marketing spend to ‘save’ money… that means that your message has a higher chance of being seen if you are spending when others aren’t.
With a limited budget, a good way to increase exposure is by collaborating with other small businesses who may serve similar clients.
This gives you the opportunity to benefit both businesses, as well as provide help to clients by saving them time in having to source help themselves.
You can also split marketing costs between you, allowing for greater coverage at the same costs.
During a downturn, when many are cutting their spending, is a good time to connect with other small businesses to share experiences and assist each other.
While the traditional face-to-face networking opportunities may be limited for some time, there are many online communities of small business owners that you can connect with.
Seeking out discounts
While funds may be limited for purchases, there may be discounts during a downturn that wouldn’t normally be available – through sales and special offers.
Whether this is for purchasing equipment or services, there could be opportunities to maximise your return on expenditure.
Additional income/side hustle
Now may be the best time to start that small business people had always thought about starting ‘one day’ – by starting it off part-time and with low risks and costs it could actually be the best way.
As the business grows, it can provide welcome additional income as well as also offering the opportunity to grow towards becoming full time in the future. It also provides protection against potential income issues should your main role suffer redundancy.
My course, start your own consultancy small business from home, can be found on udemy.