Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=106405
Story Retrieval Date: 5/20/2013 10:15:47 AM CST
In these tumultuous economic times lie opportunities, but only for the savvy entrepreneur, as 2009 is shaping up to be another brutal year.
In a panel hosted Tuesday evening by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, experts advised an audience of about 150 seasoned businessmen and women and novice opportunity-seekers that the economy is not going to get better anytime soon.
So it’s time to batten down the hatches and brace for the brunt of the storm.
“This is a world where need-to-have is going to win rather than nice-to-have,” said Steven Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago. “In a good economy nice-to-have companies can do well. In this economy, you really want to position yourself as a need-to-have with your customers because then you have a chance.”
A company should offer practical services that resonate with customers, because everyone is looking to cut costs. The company that is diligent in catering to this need will fare better, Kaplan said.
The depth of the current financial crisis is cavernous with global ramifications, but entrepreneurs should not feel disconcerted, urged the panelists.
The problems will not be easily solved because they were created by a complex combination of forces that resulted in widespread distrust and a frozen credit system, which has made raising capital nearly impossible, the panel concluded.
But if entrepreneurs are creative, have a solid business plan and are persistent, they may be able to push through this rocky financial climate.
“Volatility is going to be what we deal with on a daily basis,” said Cheryl Rosner, president and CEO of TicketsNow.com. “Ensuring that we lean into that risk, lean into that volatility and run our businesses in a way that will allow us to continue to operate very effectively is the name of the game, it’s how you are going to win.”
Rosner believes that this is also a good time to pick up talent that wouldn’t otherwise be in the startup world. She recommended capitalizing on the rising national unemployment rate.
Barbara Manley, the managing partner of Birchstone Consulting, a management consulting company in Chicago, started her business two years ago and said while she is able to get clients, her outlook is day-by-day.
“I definitely get nervous looking forward to the next year, thinking, ‘Why can’t this economy be good?’ But it’s not always going be good, so if I can make it through the next year then that’s a really good sign. And if I can’t then there’s a quick ‘no’ and I need to get out.”
So far, Manley said, business has been okay. She added that despite the rough journey ahead, the panel actually inspired her.
“While I think it’s a tough environment I don’t hear all of doom and gloom. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to take your best effort but the best will survive and that’s the entrepreneurial spirit.”