With all the doom and gloom mongers, especially in the media, telling us that we are in the worst recession since the dawn of time, and the only way forward is to cut costs and sack people and so on, it could be that some potential entrepreneurs may be feeling just a little uncertain about the future.
Consider the actual position. Sure, the economy has contracted and the dreaded cuts are coming from the public sector, but in actual fact, the contraction is no more that around 8% which to a simple soul like me says that there is still 92% of the economy to go for.
More's the point, the cuts are not going to be immediate and the majority will be coming in the next two to three years during which time, it is more than likely that the private sector will start to expand again and take up the slack.
As far as the SME sector is concerned, frankly what difference does it make that the available market is, for example, £500million or £460million when your turnover is just £2 or £3 million? Market penetration for most SMEs is minuscule and realistically can almost be ignored.
It all comes down to an attitude of mind. If we believe all the naysayers on the Today programme (have you enjoyed the freedom from that this week?) then it will be all about retrenchment. By far, the best approach is to take a good look at what your business is doing and ask yourself whether there is a case for diversification to achieve growth in some other direction. Walt Sutton calls it "discovering the rivers of cash" and that is one of the most important functions of the leader.
Ideally, of course, we should go for expansion in existing products into existing markets but that may not be easy in the current environment. The next best approach is to introduce new products into your existing market where you are known and have credibility. Innovation is the key here.
More difficult is expanding your business with your existing products into new markets and that is more difficult where you are unknown and have to create an image and a presence. Finally, of course, there is the new products into new markets and that is in effect, starting a new business.
None of these are impossible but each new approach will require a concerted and concentrated effort to achieve success. In the end, attitude will be the decider.
Finally one or two positive examples. If you are looking for a good idea, consider what everyone wants and is consumable, that is, is a regular purchase. A young woman recently started a new business selling tights (regular purchase) on the web and is now turning over in excess of £1million.
In the recession of the 1970s, two business started and are still in business. One was called Microsoft and the other was called Apple.
It's all about attitude, remember. As Henry Ford said: "If you say you can or you say you can't, you're always right"
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