Good news for Start-ups – even the bloke who draws recession graphs has been made redundant

Good news for start-up businesses – even the bloke who draws recession graphs has been made redundant – Mike explores what this might mean for aspiring entrepreneurs…

This image DOES represent the views of the author. But the author might run and hide after saying it.

I tried looking at some ‘recession graphs’ today on Google, to see when the current financial doom and gloom might crawl back under its rock. Interestingly most of the graphs, even on page 1 of google, seem to stop at 2009. I can only assume that the graph bloke lost his job. (Good. He was a miserable bugger anyway).

So what does all this mean, not for established businesses with a bit of resilience to this mess, but to the small, independent start-ups out there? Should entrepreneurs bide their time and maybe launch in 2-3 years when things are looking up? Or should we just Carpe the flipping Diem and get on with it?

Obviously, with Cuckoo Vine I chose the latter; to set the wheels in motion regardless of the ‘state of the economy’ which as a nation we’ve been grumbling about for as long as I can remember. The decision to start up a company is never an easy one, it takes a lot of commitment as well as a fair bit of courage and cash thrown in for good measure. With this in mind, it’s even harder to take the step when all around you are wallowing in financial nay-saying.

But what if, as start-ups and entrepreneurs we turn this on its head? What if we look at it from the other angle and see it as an opportunity to build a business in the most robust and recession-proof format we can possibly think of?

Take in one hand your average small town consultancy. There might be 6-10 staff members, all of whom started their careers in boom-time; the mythical era when disposable income was accessible to the common man. Many businesses like this are the epitome of inefficiency – from their working practice to their knackered photocopier – nothing runs smoothly. Everything is double handled, everyone is copied into every email and they chase their own tails on a professional scale. And it shows in their productivity. I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside teams like this in the past, in fact I can name at least a handful of companies which were working like this in 2010. Three of them are now bust.

In the other hand, take the business that has launched in the midst of this melee; the small, ambitious companies who stick their heads above the parapet to see if they can make it despite the warnings of recession and bankruptcy. These companies are the barnacles of the business world. They’ve evolved from day one to survive in the most inhospitable climate. The owners and entrepreneurs behind them have answered themselves the bleakest questions out there, and decided still to forge on ahead. ‘What if we get absolutely no customers?’ ‘What if we can’t borrow any money?’ As a result, the small startups of the last few years, I would argue, are more likely to be much thicker-skinned than their boom-time predecessors.

I’m hoping that this is a genuine opportunity for us recent startups. That if we can weather this storm in our infant stages, then we’ll be more robust than any company built in the days when money was expendable. We’ve got to offer genuine value and deliver real, tangible results, which believe it or not is more than the dinosaurs out there can promise.

Now remember this is plain speculation, but it helps me sleep at night at least. If the start-ups and entrepreneurs amongst us stick our necks out and start offering more, for less, then maybe we stand a chance of crawling out of the hole and leading the way for other businesses to follow.

One of the things that got me thinking on this topic was looking through some of my recent members on Cuckoo Vine. Interestingly, it’s quite popular amongst startups (I’d like to think because it offers a lot, for less) like Oh! You Pretty Things and Eve Worrall. These individuals are all completely aware of how hard things are at the moment and as a result they’re turning back to the basics to move forward. They’re basing their business on value, real customer care and social and environmental sustainability. It’s great to see that these pillars are propping them up through their early days and hopefully and I hope that Cuckoo Vine also does it’s little bit towards helping them grow into everything they deserve.

Like I said, these are the authors views only and could prove to be ill-placed optimism and naivety. If this is the case, then I’m sure I’ll catch up with you sooner or later at Jobcentre.