Sink or swim. Stick it out or fold up the tent. If only keeping your clients and customers talking about you was as easy as the silly (yet effective) Snickers Snacklish campaign. There are two options in this market, keep your business working while repositioning it or shut down to preserve capital and recharge the entrepreneurial batteries.
Liquor store owner LeNell Smothers is taking a breather. She closed down her neighborhood shop, LeNell’s in February after losing her lease and a relocation plan failed. She isn’t giving up. She’s busy preparing her comeback.
“Realizing that it doesn't matter how well you are doing, that a landlord has absolute control of the future of your business is a real eye opener,” says Smothers. She’s using this time off improve her game and learn more about liquors and cocktail techniques from bartenders and bar managers in Europe.
“Phase two of my business plan is my bar concept operating next to, below, or above my store.” Smothers’ very loyal constituency is devastated by the loss.
To stay connected she’s keeping up a mailing list and redesigning her website. Even though closing down wasn’t part of her plan, she sees the bright side of this pause in her business.
“This temporary shutdown has given me time to rejuvenate my passion, hone my business skills by training with other leaders in the industry, and improve my product knowledge."
You wouldn’t expect a growth market in shipping little ice spheres during a recession, but Roberto Sequeira, the CEO of Glace Luxury Ice is trying to bring a luxury product to bars and restaurants in a relatively untouched market.
He realized there wasn’t a trusted brand of ice for those traveling in less developed countries where tap water isn’t safe to drink, so he created a luxury brand of ice that he distributes around the world packing it in dry ice and shipping it FedEx.
His goal: the next time you’re in say, Sequeira’s native Nicaragua, and order a Jack Daniel’s and Coca Cola, you can enjoy it chilled and order it on Glace.
His rationalization: “If I were doing $100 million dollars and I saw my sales drop then I’d consider sitting out for a while and figuring out how to emerge again strong. But my luxury item is a start-up so I still haven’t captured all of my pie.”
Glace has accounts with the MGM Grand and the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. The fancy ice cubes can also be found clinking in the glasses of VIP parties and celebrity events. “Even though my market has shrunk some,” says Sequiera, “I’ve only sold to a fraction of that remaining strong market. I still have plenty of room for growth right now within that group.”
While the wealthy may keep spending on ice cubes in the Third World, decorating a home or an office isn’t could easily be part of a budget cut for a business or a family.
But Suzette Mehler, the founder of Faux Museum, Inc., created gold leaf frames out of superior art paper that mimic the appearance of a estate and museum frames for a fraction of the price of the real thing.
“I chose high quality products that were also economical to create a product with a luxury feel. It costs me and the consumer less, but gives a similar effect as the original product and includes a wider customer base,” says Mehler.
Finding more customers, developing better products, finding a renewed focus—they can all be prudent ways to spend a crisis that keeps a business evolving.