Last week, we wondered whether the word "recession-proof" weren't practically non-existent. Today we'll try to be cheerier, with a look at some companies that actually are doing alright for themselves during these down times--and how you can emulate their success.
The success story is a venerable business journalism trope, and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal each provide one today. The Times profiles New York-based, 25-employee Arena Media Networks, which sells advertising on closed-circuit televisions in the venues that host 50 professional sports teams. Why is it still doing well? Because its fortunes are tethered to that of professional sports, which aren't going anywhere anytime soon ("Sports fans are one of the last bastions in this economy," the company's head says). Specifically, advertisers with fewer dollars to spend may care less about reaching the biggest audiences and more about reaching the most concentrated ones. Advertise on TV, and who knows who's watching; advertise at a basketball game--especially in a bad economy, where only the diehards are spending ticket money--and you know basketball fans will see your ad. Great bang for the buck. And great news for the company that places the ad.
The Journal, meanwhile, describes the continued boom of microbreweries, with more opening in 2008 than in any year since 1999. (The headline is, "In Lean Times, A Stout Dream". Har har har.) Once again, you have a fairly, and genuinely, recession-proof (get it? "proof"? har har har) industry--alcohol/beer--and small businesses and entrepreneurs divining their niche, poor economy or no.
So certainly it helps to be in, or latched onto, these still-churning industries. The one other thing to do in order to survive and even thrive in the recession, our sister site The Big Money suggests, is to embrace your smallness, and exploit your differences with the big-guy competitors. Here, the author writes:
Welcome to the Little-Guy Economy, where boutique investment banks make deals while big finance is frozen, where Web geeks field calls from big media and corporate clients who need viral video and other digital-branding tools, where small law firms prosper and laid-off lawyers open their own shops, where independent music labels innovate faster, and where the word "team" can have a whole new meaning. As their bigger, more established peers restructure departments, sell assets, and slash budgets, little guys who offer better, more streamlined, and less costly services are healthier and, in come cases, flourishing.
Note that this advice is without regard to the industry. Sure, finance is down, but it's not gone (at least not completely; at least not yet). Someone's gotta do the business there, and if you play your cards right, it will be you and your small business.
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