How to Start & Grow a Business in a Recession

This is a topic on so many minds right now — between the pandemic and the uncertainty of our economic future, is it an appropriate time to start or attempt to grow your business? That’s why, last Friday, Tresta teamed up with Paul Carrick Brunson for a special Better with Paul LIVE panel discussion, which focused on just that.

Paul is an author, philanthropist, and serial entrepreneur, who has founded and exited three successful businesses, after spending nearly a decade working for two billionaires, including Oprah Winfrey.

Friday’s episode of Better with Paul LIVE (which Paul hosts, in real-time, on Facebook, Periscope, LinkedIn and YouTube Live each Monday and Friday) featured an impressive panel:

Here are our takeaways from Friday’s live session:

When is the right time to start a business?

According to Paul, “We live in an entirely new economy where you must become an entrepreneur. Whether that means you start a full-blown business… or that means that you’re just a freelancer and you’re looking to monetize your skills and your expertise — now, you must rely on you. There’s no question about it. The new economy is here.”

What does it take — operationally — to start a successful business?

Violet Lim is an operational mastermind. She founded her business, LunchActually, in 2004, and even through the Great Recession, she saw strong, substantial, and sustained growth. According to her, it takes five essential ingredients:

  • Having the right team
  • Having the right culture
  • Instilling discipline
  • Having a clear vision and mission
  • Staying hungry

What are some of the top resources available to new entrepreneurs?

According to Nathalie Molina Niño, who was a tech entrepreneur but now focuses on investment, funding goes beyond the government. There are a number of resources that you can leverage in order to fund your new business, but she recommends targeting free money first.

  • Salesforce is accepting applications for small business grants right now through its Salesforce Care Small Business Grants initiative.
  • LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) provides direct financing to small enterprises overlooked by conventional financing channels.
  • Facebook is currently offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help businesses that have been negatively impacted by the global outbreak of COVID-19. Through their Boost with Facebook initiative, they are offering grants in 28 cities throughout the United States. The deadline to apply is May 8th, so you’ll want to jump on this one.

How do you create demand without coming off as insensitive during a recession?

There are a number of ways to carve out a place in the market, even during a recession, without being perceived as insensitive — but according to Ramunda Lark Young, it’s all about understanding your audience and adding value. During a recession (or a pandemic), peoples’ needs are more clear than any other time, so your job is to pick up on what your customers need, and add value where possible.

How do you transition to being an entrepreneur?

According to Nathalie Molina Niño, VC’s represent an insignificant niche in times like these. In her opinion, if you’ve got a regular job and you’re working on your side hustle, you’re in a good position. She recommends that you keep on that path and grow your side hustle until it’s bringing in enough revenue to exceed your regular salary. That’s the point where you make the jump.

What are some of the pitfalls to avoid as you start your business?

  • Listening to the naysayers. According to Ramunda Lark Young, you have to strengthen your inner voice.
  • Doubting the power of PR. Whenever Violet Lim started her business, she was running successful advertising campaigns and growing steadily, but it was public relations that she said was a huge difference-maker.
  • Focusing only on the worst-case scenario, and forgetting to plan for the best case.

For even more insight from the experts, access the full panel discussion here.

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