Monday, September 29, 2008

Is This Really a Good Time to Start a Business?

The Markets plunged today, worst drop ever. Not this year or this century, EVER. Credit is tight to non existent. Home values are crashing. We should all be afraid, be very afraid. Bullshit. Not that things aren’t tough, but that’s no reason to think this is bad time to open a business. Conventional thinking would have you believe it’s the wrong time. I think it’s the right time.

I had 5 different people today ask me if I was a bit scared to open a business right now, times are tough out there; maybe it’s not such a good time. A salesperson from a food purveyor showed up and said that it’s not so good right now, slowest two weeks she’d ever seen. Slow, not dead. My reply to everyone that asked or questioned my sanity was the same, ‘I think this is the perfect time to open a new business!’ I’m excited about my prospects. Now, I’m not wearing rose colored glasses. I see what’s happening out there. You can’t ignore, but you can understand and embrace it. That’s right, embrace it. First of all, it is what it is. Little ole Todd can’t fix the credit market, can’t fix congress and I only get one vote for President. But it is what it is. So work with what it offers you.

Why does this crazy man think this is a good time to start a business? First, a number of businesses were started and grew during the great depression. So this tells me that it’s not impossible to be successful, it just may take a little more work. Listen, I started throwing newspapers in Mr. Pritchett’s bushes when I was 12 years old and haven’t turned down a challenge yet because it was ‘too hard’ or required a little more work. If there’s a worm around, I’ll find it. Even when I decide to sleep in (another story, but at my age sleeping in just doesn’t happen any more). Ok, point number one, it is absolutely possible to start a successful business when times are bad.

Second, it’s much easier to get people to work with you. When I needed some painting done about 3 years ago, I called a painter and he was booked for 6 months! Imagine, his good fortune was my long impatient wait. 6 months to roll some latex on a board. Today things can get done much more quickly. Professionals aren’t cheaper, after all, their services are still valuable and worth what you pay, the savings is in the expeditiousness of the work getting done timely. Everyone’s available to take your call, “sure I can stop by tomorrow”. Now a few folks are still busy, as they should be. But all in all, it’s much easier to find great people to work with.

Much less competition. When everyone is opening a business there’s simply more competition, not that a great business won’t thrive during any climate, it just that less competition means getting your customers attention the first time is easier. And less expensive.

No matter when you open a business, the fundamentals of success are the same: Have a great product. Have great service. Make it easy, pleasurable and satisfying for your customers to do business with you. That takes care of your sales. Then you make sure your processes are cost effective. Always know where you stand financially. And last, have a plan for all the above. That’s it. Business really is that simple.

Oh wait I did forget one thing. You have to put effort into it. Especially into the sales part of things. You can’t just unlock your doors every morning and expert the throngs to inundate you, you need to go knock on doors. Talk to strangers. Be willing to risk. Get out there and let people know about you and your business. If you do this, you can make it in any environment.

My last thought is this. Starting a business when times are tough actually make you a better company. Why? Because you have to laser focused on what you do and that focus makes you a great business. Then, maintain that focus in good times and you have a world class business.

So, I’m excited about starting a business in this time, in this place with these people supporting me. The Tucson Tamale Company will be successful because we will never forget what it takes to be successful.

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