Carrying a business idea through tough times

By | September 21, 2008

Hardly a day goes by these days without some bleak news about the problems affecting the US economy, and the shake-ups happening to some long time corporate giants. It has even gotten to me, and I can’t help myself feeling a little more than apprehensive.

Being a blogger and webmaster is solely something I’ve been doing for years, outside my work. My current employer is a very large financial institution, and so far they have been spared the worst of the bad. While the news this past week hasn’t been upbeat, there are remedial measures in place; I’m just not the only one still wondering if there’s more to this crunch that is yet to come. Are you?

Curiously, will tough times affecting the financial sector spill over into the tech sector? I don’t think there is a meltdown happening just yet, but the tech sector will definitely be affected one way or the other, if there is prolonged lessened spending from consumers. In the meantime, it sure is acquisition time. We are now seeing big companies buying over smaller companies, and it’s all over the place.

But that’s not the purpose of this post, so I’ll let the rest be short. Let’s take a moment to look at ourselves.

I’d guess that some people are exploring the option of a side business in these tough times. And tough times are good for some personal introspection. If you’ve been planning to start a small side business all this while, you may want to check out this blog post about incubating your business idea. A gem of a blog post to me, but I’d just like to comment on two in particular – Your job and your time.

I like the first tip a lot; that’s what I’m doing, and that’s what I would advise. Most people are just way too eager to cut the cord with their employer, and end up leaving their jobs prematurely. I would advise sticking with your day job because it pays the bills, and it funds your business in the initial stages. If your job is not suitable, by all means find a more suitable one that does – a stable one. A stable job is one that allows you some freedom in setting aside time to “ease” into your business idea.

As to finding what kind of small business most suits you, you’d first need to make a thorough assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. I know of a lot of people who jump into blogging simply because it seemed to be the in-thing, only to get disappointed by their results, or realize they are not the blogging type. Blogging is not for everyone, and an eBay business is not for everyone. If Technorati reports that 100,000 blogs get created every day (mostly splogs), how many legit ones are left 6 months later?

Setting aside time is probably the most important factor, but also the hardest one to pull off. The catch-22 situation is that stable jobs that are ok with side businesses are also (frequently) the types that are long on the hours. In short, it is far from easy. It takes a lot of discipline and will power to actually stick with your plan for years at a time, until it starts to take off.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from Robert Frost that sticks – “The best way out is always through.”

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