I like the idea of starting a business in a rising trend.
I've enclosed a question from an entrepeneur in North Dakota that reflects what's on most people's minds.
Question: I own a fuel oil and natural gas delivery business. I’m wondering if this is the best business to be involved in given the current economic downturn. Do you think my business taps into a “rising trend”?
T.B. Fargo North Dakota
Answer Marc Charles: Good question. My short answer is yes. You’re in an excellent niche business which should fare just fine in the current economy.
But, I need to ask, is your business profitable or is it losing money?
It’s important to remember, although some people are experiencing difficulties and some businesses have been affected more than others, the old fable in Acres of Diamonds still holds true.
The lesson of this fable is there are usually acres of diamonds in our own backyard.
In my experience, the best money making opportunities are usually in plain view.
I have to admit its fun traveling the world in search of opportunities. But even then opportunities are in plain view.
No matter how bad things get people will always need fuel.
The question to ask yourself is, “Will your customers prefer doing business with competitors because of better pricing, better service or better terms”?
Look for ways to offer better service and possibly a break on pricing, or financing.
Most fuel distribution companies offer boiler services. But you could go a step further and offer annual “Energy Audit”. An “Energy Audit” would be an unbiased evaluation of a homeowner and business owners building. This audit would include specific recommendations for reducing energy consumption.
Be on the look out for in-kind relationships with companies which offer the services you need, like snowplowing, accounting, direct marketing or dealing with the government.
Granted, most of the barter systems I’ve seen fall short on many levels.
However, in a depression, as in good times, legitimate in-kind relationships are crucial.
Here’s something else I’ll throw into the mix…
The companies saddled with debt, unpaid receivables and huge inventories of outdated products tend to be the first to go under when the economy turns south. We should prepare for this BEFORE it occurs. If you have problems in these areas make changes today.
And don’t forget….direct marketing (done right) usually separates the men from the boys when it comes to increasing sales.
I hope that helps.