Thursday, November 19, 2009

Small Business Survival.

The economic situation is kicking in.
Spoiled or not, the people from the NY video I posted a few days ago are dealing with a problem common to people both in Europe and all over USA: Unemployment, salary reductions, hours getting cut, all while inflation slowly creeps under the foundations of the family budget.

I’m telling you those marketing guys are sneaky sons of a gun. The containers change shape, in ways they look abut the same volume but once you read the actual weight you see you are getting less product.
That’s inflation.
Containers getting smaller, then prices increasing a few cents at a time and one day you find that the cart is only ½ way full for the same amount of money. How did that happen?

If you’re one of the lucky ones maybe you’re still in your comfort zone. A good job that pays well, you’ve got medical, your retirement.
There’s millions out there that where in that same situation my friend.
No one plans on getting shot next week, mugged tomorrow. No woman has scheduled to be raped on the parking lot next month. It just happens. It’s no different with getting fired.
Sure maybe there were a few little signs, but its too late when you notice it. Ask the millions that got fired this year, most never saw it coming.
This is why its important to have your own thing going on, your own business. Nothing is too silly or too small, but man, having at least SOMETHING makes all the difference when you get home with a box full of office junk. At least you’ve got better than nada, you have a fishing pole, a tool you can at least use with enough patience and time. You’ll have plenty of time in your hands.
It’s sad, but some people that unexpectedly get fired after decades of a steady job, they get up at the same time, dress similarly, walk up to that same building… but keep walking, and end up having coffee nearby, using their laptop to job hunt, or read the paper.

It’s much better if you already had something.
You don’t need to be Donald Trump, but some sort of home business at the very least.
There’s people that have websites, blogs (you don’t need to be a genius or have crazy computer skills, I don’t) there’s people that buy and sell stuff on ebay, guys that have their own home office besides their job and do private work within their field. Many here that had just zero resources, they just sold Avon products (kind of Amway) the woman that sold the water filters I talked about, math teachers that give private support lessons, Spanish teachers.
Are you getting the picture already? SOMETHING, anything at all is better than zero. If you lose your job you at least have a home business to keep you busy.

Ok, How do I do it?

Don’t expect much from me people. I can only give you a few tips I saw, some I used myself, with greater or lesser success.

Since its impossible to know the skills, traits or abilities of each person reading this, I can only give general pointers. Most is common sense, but I guess its not that common sometimes.

1) Be extremely cautious about spending money.
Just lost your job, and this “friend” has this killer deal, but you have to put like ½ of your saving into it. Yes, you’re supposed to get filthy rich after a few weeks. Don’t do it.
Rent an office/shop? Yes, after you’ve been doing whatever it is you want to do successfully from home for a couple years, THEN think about renting or buying.
Be extremely cautious about spending money when starting a small business. Only spend money on those things you absolutely cannot avoid, and always within your means. I’m not wealthy so for me that’s little or no money at all people.

2)Be realistic about your expectations.

Specially since you’re not investing much at all, be very conservative about your goals and expectations. We’re not talking about becoming millionaire within the next 12 weeks. (as many books promise, and thus only managing sales to all those guys that want to be rich, in the end the only one making money is the book author who’s greatest skill is marketing and selling the millionaire dream to the mass population. )
Remember, we want a small side job, a small part time, home run company that makes a little extra money each month and which can grow if you end up losing your job or if it shows great promise.

3)Create you network.

The people that will become your suppliers, the guy that solves your internet problems, even if it just calling customer service to see how they handle things. Its all part of the network you need and the learning process. The people that will become your potential clients regarding whatever it is your do, from clients of your little home based consulting firm to the people and small shops all around you that buy the excess of what you produce at your home orchard.
Do you see already how broad a term I’m referring when I’m talking about a small business?

4) Be consistent.
The difference between a millionaire and someone that isn’t is that the millionaire simply never stopped trying.
I kid you not, I just resumed right there hundreds of “how to get rich” books. There’s no secret folks, the only secret is simply that the guy that got rich didn’t envision himself any other way.
He never stopped trying.
Maybe money isn’t that big a deal for you, and well, that the difference.
In average, every guy that got rich failed 17 times before actually getting there.
Need I ask? How many times did you try it?
Translating this to our current subject, you must be consistent regarding your business. Don’t expect to start, leave things unattended for a couple weeks, then kind of do something else, then get back to it half heartedly… no. Doesn’t work that way. Set up realistic goals and achieve them.

5) Find your thing.
Ah! The hardest part of all. Or maybe not.
1)What are you passionate about?
2) What do you like doing?
3) What are you good at?

Whatever the answer, it can be done in a way it makes money.
You’re good at painting? I bet half the people reading this right know believe they are. Maybe you really are. Have you ever sold one of your paintings to anyone? Don’t worry, most people haven’t, even the people that are really good at it.
Yet I know rather crappy painters that make a few bucks just doing that. They talk with architects, interior decorators, they do custom jobs at reasonable prices and sell their work for decoration, something that simply matches the colors and character of what the client wants.
Its not about becoming the next Leonardo DaVinci, its about selling a few painting and making some money. Do you see the change of perspective here? How many people do you know that took hours of painting classes yet never made a single cent out of it? Its simply the perspective you have of things. One guy is just doing his hobby, yet for another one (maybe even less talented) he’s doing his job. A job he enjoys but a job none the less.

For a lawyer, accountant or other professional, a home based office as a side job should be a no brainer.
You have no talent, no skill, nothing at all? If you really have the will at least, then you have something.
Real example here: A few days ago I learned what a woman was doing as a side job. She’s not what you’d call bright, but she works in a traveling agency.
I knew she didn’t have much of a salary but I could tell she had a better standard of living than what you’d expect. Her big secret?
She sells stuff on the internet. New Harry Potter movie? She buy s the latest toys and sell them here before they are even imported.
Some toys, she gets people to by them for her abroad or buys them herself when she travels because of work, mostly in USA, and sells them here for anywhere from 10 times to 20 times the price she got them for in USA. As you can see, even after a crisis there’s people that will spend the extra buck to buy nice toys.
Before saying you can’t do that think of the yard sales and some of the prices on ebay.

Another guy I know he just buys appliances and machinery, fixes them and sells them. When he’s got no job in his machinist shop, he does that for a living.
Find your “thing”.

6) Adequate ( as in adapted to the crisis) Marketing is the key.
You can’t expect the same strategies to work during a depression. You need to go out there and hunt your clients.
Someone once commented in my blog, all you need to do is be good at what you do. I love you man but bs, bs, bs. Let me say that one more time, BS.
Even if you’re good, clients wont come flocking through the door. How will they even know about you if you don’t take the first step.
Based on what I’ve seen here, of course being good helps and keeps customers happy and the word gets around, but most of the people that do well are good at selling whatever it is they have to sell.
You’re the best hair dresser in town, but you sit all day in your saloon bitching about work going down 50%.
Meanwhile the woman in the other street that isn’t ½ as good as you are, she’s offering special prices, she’s finding cheaper yet good products, she’s offering crazy Monday and goes home to home doing hairs for no additional cost (“bring a friend and get a discount for both!”), she’s also learned makeup and is doing makeup for sweet 16 and weddings at a competitive price and people already know her. You know what, she even went to the community center or church where she learned makeup and asked about teaching hair dressing herself, for a modest price.

Can you see how this could be applied to a hundred other businesses?
There’s a dozen other examples I can think of, it all depends on what you do, but I think you get the general idea.
Apply it to your situation and set of skills and get started.
Take care people.



Don Williams said...

1) From Great Britain's Daily Telegraph at


"Société Générale has advised clients to be ready for a possible "global economic collapse" over the next two years, mapping a strategy of defensive investments to avoid wealth destruction. "

CapnRick said...

Thanks for this thread. I've been thinking about this very issue, lately. I remember that you provided many excellent examples of small business ideas that seemed to work well during the crisis in Argentina.

I recently have been thinking that some of the ideas for micro-loan candidate businesses might generate some ideas for small home businesses. These businesses include home food preparation, clothing manufacturing, cell phone call service (wherein a person with a cell phone and coverage collects a service fee from local users for usage), etc. Many, many other possible opportunities can be researched by visiting the web sites of the charities offering micro-loans.

When we realize that the world as we know it has fundamentally changed, we have to decide to change our perception of what's the right thing to do... or change our world by moving somewhere else.

You know, guy... the thing I value most about your info is that some of it applies to us all, some to bug-outers, some to homesteaders, and some to survivers-in-place such as myself. Thanks for the important work you are doing.


Anonymous said...

You can also begin raising food. I have "urban chickens." This is legal in many cities. You can have a set number of female chickens and they will produce eggs.

I also am growing more vegetables, plus planting more fruit trees. Many city lots can grow a surprising amount of food.

Anonymous said...

if there is a easy way to make money everyone would be doing it

Anonymous said...

Nothing in life worth having is easy.

Buzz Kimball said...

1) you'll have to learn to deal with people and haggling.

2) if you have a skill do that, if you don't sell.

3) when you start a business, you'll work very long hours for very little pay. forgot the social life, bars, restaurants... after awhile you won't miss it.


4) know your market, prices and the going rates.

Anonymous said...

Very good advice, and well put. I don't know what I'll do for a home business, yet it is the process that is most important. Doing something, anything even if it's not the 'best' thing, is better than nothing. It may start out as one thing and grow into another or likely, a multitude of things. I'll learn as I go. And a big Yes to your point, that it is more how you do it, than the 'what' you do. Marketing any product or service is key. Look up 'marketing'. It means many things.


An Unsheltered Life said...

Great advice! I do freelance writing, but I picked up that mostly because of the flexible schedule (I'm also in college full time, so it's nice to be able to schedule work around study-related needs).

I'm not rich, but I love what I do - and I do it from my house, so no overhead.

Anonymous said...


Does Argentina have "price-per-unit" information on the price labels at grocery stores?

The stores in the U.S. have this, and I think it might be required by law.

Price-per-unit is the best and easiest way to track inflation. A container of yogurt will show the cost per ounce, so as the volume decreases but the item cost remains the same, the price-per-unit will will increase, thus showing the inflation.

SiriusBlack said...

Unfortunate though it may be, in the event of TSHTF many of the best ways of making money will involve trading on the misery of other people. Those who didn't see it coming will be in distress, selling their prized possessions at fire-sale prices. It may be the family car, it may be clothing, it may be real estate. Buy it cheap, fix it up, sell for a modest markup. Of course you will need to have savings to do this. Nobody said the apocalypse was going to be pretty.

Anonymous said...

Sirius, it's not necessarily trading on the misery of others. That family desperately trying to unload the car would be in a world of hurt if nobody came along to buy it.

Anonymous said...

My father's uncle did the "buy-it-low & flip it" during the Dirty Thirties, hauling perch from Saginaw into Detroit, selling the fish AND then the ice, then getting a back-haul, ANY thing. Some stuff he had to sit on for a while, some stuff he didn't always do well on. Nobody gets it right all the time. Point is, he kept trying and he knew many people, eventually became wealthy, not just survived, although that would be enough for me. I garden my entire city lot, plus a friend lets me garden & hunt on his 20 acres, another lets me hunt on his 100acre tree farm. Plus I fish the local lakes, especially ice fishing, fish keep longer and taste best then. We shop at thrift stores and garage sales almost exclusively, no retail, no sales taxes. Next I will try selling on eBay, who knows, it just might work.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.


Unknown said...

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