In every economic downturn, entrepreneurs have created successful businesses through the combination of seeking new opportunities, getting creative and taking action. Specific examples of companies and what they did to succeed serve as an example for entrepreneurs today.
By Barbara Roemer
The media reports are full of bad news about the economy on a global, national and even household level. Predictions abound on if another severe downturn like the Great Depression will begin, and if it does, when it will start and how long it will last.
Turn off the news and think about this: Consumers do not stop spending in a downturn; they just become more selective on where to spend their dollars. They look for what appears to be a better deal, whether it is better pricing, better customer service, a special add-on, easier sales process, and more.
Even during the Great Depression (that began in 1929), consumers were still spending. Companies that survived, and even thrived, got creative and took action. Here are just a few examples from that time period:
* Kellogg and Post were once pretty close competitors until the Great Depression. Kellogg came out swinging, with heavy marketing; Post took the no-growth strategy - thinking they needed to save money and not spend it. Kellogg overtook Post, and Post has never caught up. A similar situation occurred with Chevrolet and Ford. Chevrolet increased their marketing and had a large market lead over Ford for many years.
* Proctor and Gamble began a huge branding campaign by being the first company to sponsor radio soap operas, which was a significant form of entertainment and relaxation for listeners. Their name became a household word and remains so today.
* Bixler Jewelers, credited as the oldest jeweler in America, saw a drop in customer traffic and decided to open a free lending library in the store. This increased their traffic, helped to maintain customer loyalty, and little by little, their sales improved and they are still in business today.
* A.E. Schmidt was a billiard table manufacturer when the Depression hit. They diversified and sold janitorial supplies to restaurants. They also sought new markets for their billiard tables, approaching the US government about the need to provide inexpensive and positive activities for those in government work camps during the long, boring evenings when they weren’t working – and billiards became one of the top activities at those camps.
* Cornell Iron Works was a specialty ironworks provider. In the Depression, they broadened their market so that they not only made specialty railings, grates and stairways; they also made plain metal siding for delivery trucks and security doors.
Some entrepreneurs saw opportunities that others didn’t see during the Depression, and took them.
During the Great Depression, most brokerages had either closed, or were afraid to take on new clients. This left many people, who still wanted to invest in the stock market, with no place to go. Howard Buffet (the father of multi-billionaire Warren Buffet) recognized this need and opened his own brokerage to fill the need.
* Walt Disney knew people still wanted entertainment, and provided it at a low cost through animated cartoons.
* Ever hear of Monopoly? The rise of this game occurred as another form of cheap entertainment. A small investment for the Monopoly game became a way to see hope in the future, and as players developed their money making skills, they could pretend they were real estate barons.
There have been severe recessions since the Great Depression ended, and during each one, new and existing businesses were built to great levels of success.
Two companies that began business in a recession are Domino’s Pizza and Toys R Us. They thrived by using new marketing models. Domino’s Pizza created a marketing campaign that no other pizza company had: if they didn’t deliver the pizza within 30 minutes, the customer did not have to pay for it. Toys R Us transferred the warehouse store concept to selling toys - a first for that niche.
A very short list of some other companies that started business during economic downturns include: Wrigley Gum, UPS, NewEgg, Super 8 Motel, Microsoft, Symantec, Nantucket Juice, Zippo Lighters and Hewlett Packard. These companies are giants, and are well-known by multitudes!
What are the main keys to success in these examples?
1. GET CREATIVE with marketing, business models, product diversification and positioning, and,
2. SEEK the opportunities that others do not see, and,
3. TAKE ACTION, because of, and in spite of, the economic news.
Don’t get caught up in the fear that is being propagated on the news channels. Instead, focus on what you can do to create you success, regardless of the current economy.
For free resources, including a free report "Top 10 Reasons Entrepreneurs Fail, & What to Do so YOU SUCCEED!" visit http://www.successmasteryprogram.com/Top-10-ebook-request.html . Barbara Roemer uses her advanced education and certifications, and over 20 years of experience to guide others on the path to creating a fulfilling and successful business life.