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Opportunities starting to sprout as entrepreneurs pick up the pieces from shattered economy

April 2009 Corporate

The funny thing about recessions is that only after you’ve been in one do you realize that it began nearly a year before.  The same thing happens when you come out of it.  Usually at the most depressing time, the subtle turnaround begins and six to nine months later the, the economic experts will announce the recovery has been here for nearly a year. Like the cliché – it’s darkest before the dawn.

So, we conclude the month of March, 2009, and the stock market has staged a remarkable turn around.  Is this the leading indicator of recovery?  We’ll see.

Meanwhile, there are entrepreneurs — individuals and companies — that refuse to wring their hands and moan over the depressing state of business.   Such entrepreneurs are seeing the glass half full and not half empty.   They are picking up the pieces of the shattered economy and creating opportunity.  Maybe they don’t have the business to work on but they marketing like crazy and sewing the seeds for future business relationships.

FORBES Magazine, produced  a cover article in its March 26, 2009, issue entitled “Thriving in the Downturn.”  The cover teaser for this article was “What Recession ?”   The article highlights the stories of “10 remarkable, Recession-Proof Entrepreneurs.”   Brett Nelson, the Forbes editor who compiled the stories writes: “Growth is like a drug, and it can kill like one, too.  Reckless over-stretching to hit increasingly aggressive quarterly financial results  — ay the expense of quality, even propriety — has hobbled plenty of companies, large and small.  Which is why it is encouraging to come across a crown of small-scale entrepreneurs who took a more disciplined approach to running their businesses — and are prospering because of it.  Like any small-business owner, this group runs on gumption and grit during the best of time, and embraces any imaginative means to survive in the worst.”

Among the entrepreneurs featured in the article include:

  • 90-year old Steven Bogdan and his 59-year-old son Stephen of Ipswich, NH, who make custom-built fishing reels.
  • Manhattan plastic surgeon, Dr. Van Trokel, 39, developed a revolutionary face lift technique that takes 30-45 minutes and requires nearly zero healing time.
  • Charles Morgan, a 57-year-old builder of sports cars makes old-school cars.  The company, Morgan Motors of Malvern, U.K., has been at it since 1912 making it the world’s oldest privately owned car company.  It makes 700 cars a year ranging in price from $37,500 to $151,000.

Still another example of making lemonade out of lemons in the bad economy is an article in the March 31, 2009, issue of the Wall Street Journal with the headline:  “Expanding Eateries Target Shuttered Sites.”   Writer Paul Ziobro writes: “As restaurant chains go out of business or prune their store counts in the tough economy, competitors are jumping on the opportunity to move into vacated locations as a way to expand quickly and cheaply.

Among the restaurant chains singled out in the article were: Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, Burger King Holdings, Brinker International Inc. and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Ziobro writes: Restaurants can convert their competitors closed sites to their own brands at a lower cost than building new restaurants from scratch…Incoming businesses also have the upper hand in negotiating rents with landlords stuck with empty restaurant space.”



About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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