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How To Identify Money-Making Opportunities During Economic Downturns

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at August 12, 2021

There’s no stopping the economy when it takes a turn for the worse. Whether you’re an investor, a stockbroker or an entrepreneur, you need to be ready to roll with the punches when the going gets tough. 

Smart entrepreneurs look for new ways to make money when the economy goes south because they know that there’s always an untapped market somewhere. Below, members of Forbes Business Council weigh in on the best ways for entrepreneurs to identify new money-making opportunities during economic downturns.

1. Identify Your Passion Areas 

Identify a business in an area that you are passionate about. If you pick a business based solely on its profit potential, then you’ll not only have to compete against incumbents but also entrepreneurs who are passionate about the space. It’s an uphill climb and one that will absorb a lot of resources with little chance of success. – Peter Burns, Burns Funding

2. Leverage Digital Transformation

Digital is where the money is. Find out a problem statement that can be solved using digital transformation. Is there an opportunity where you can ideate a simple new solution using digital technologies like analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation, etc.? Building the solution out might be easier than you think, and the adoption might happen quicker than you anticipate. – Saurabh Goenka, MindMap Digital


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3. Disrupt The Gig Economy

Just do it. The gig economy has never been more ripe for disruption. I saw this quote somewhere: “The next time you’re afraid to share your ideas with someone, remember that someone once said in a meeting, ‘Let’s make a film with a tornado full of sharks.’” So don’t be shy; let it fly. Now is the time. – Angela Diffly, Restaurant Technology Network

4. Find An Unexplored Niche

When the economy turns down, the most successful people tend to innovate and adapt. Find a niche that’s unexplored. Home-based delivery of everything, from specialized foods to cosmetics, was a great example of how some entrepreneurs adapted during the current pandemic. Use this time to fine-tune your business plan, test it on a few people, deploy and adapt continuously. – James Langabeer, Yellowstone Consulting, LLC

5. Shift Your Focus To Change

Don’t just focus on how to make money; focus on the cultural and social change that’s ignited during downturns. Economic downturns often create a “blank-slate” mentality where people make sweeping lifestyle and personal changes they never would’ve considered before the downturn. A forward-thinking mentality on what’s relevant now, that wasn’t before, helps with brainstorming new opportunities. – Sara Rodell, Loop & Tie

6. Look Where Others Aren’t 

When you see everyone going left, go right. What I mean is that opportunities are found where others aren’t looking. If every movie theater closed in your town, does that mean movies are a bad investment or is there now a new opportunity? Look for the holes that were created by the downturn. These holes feel like risky investments but will create payoff. – Jennifer Coy, Beauty Care Choices

7. Evaluate, Validate, Execute

As with any change there are always opportunities. When evaluating a potential new endeavor, it’s critical to both approach the ideas with a robust framework for evaluating the long-term potential unit economics, as well as critically evaluating distribution and demand. Once you have those validated, it comes down to execution. – Andrew Collins, Bungalow

8. Look For Expanding Industries

As with any opportunity, one must match their own interests and skills to the business they’re considering. In a downturn, however, there’s the additional layer of considering whether that industry is expanding or contracting. In our current climate, outdoor products and experiences seem to be doing well as people look to stay safe. – Dean Watkins, Dog Guard

9. Expand On Your Strengths

Identifying new ways to make money is as simple as evaluating a problem and creating a solution. In economic downturns, there is usually no lack of problems. Have you already established yourself within an industry? What do people or companies in that industry need that you can offer? Expand on your strengths and what you enjoy. It’s not necessarily the time to reinvent the wheel. – Tessa Holcomb, Domain Advisors LLC

10. Test With Smaller Bets 

Make smaller bets, test the market and see what sticks. During economic downturns, consumers have more strict priorities and reductions in spending. Few industries, healthcare being one, have typically been only minimally impacted. Entrepreneurs can explore opportunities in the least impacted industries and take new initiatives to keep going as inaction does not guarantee safety in uncertain times. – Shivani Gupta, PMI South Florida

11. Think Outside The Box

Do not be afraid to think outside the box and explore opportunities and industries. Several industries thrive in recessions, such as wealth planning, estate law, insurance, foreclosures, education, personal development and entrepreneurship. Instead of starting a business from scratch, explore joint venture or commission-based opportunities with professionals in these high-ticket industries. – Sidhartha Peddinti, Social Impact Ventures LLC

12. Look Beyond Your Domain

Don’t rely on philosophical beliefs and a desire to achieve ideal states. Instead, focus on areas of frustration among your core target audience and offer a solution that reduces or eliminates this frustration for them. Be tangential in your thinking—in other words, don’t limit yourself to your domain for growth opportunities but instead look beyond your domain for opportunities and learning. – Alasdair Lloyd-Jones, VERSUS Creative Company

13. Build On What’s Working

I would propose that they look into what serves their existing knowledge base, skill set, product lines or services. Many times you don’t have to look far to find additional income opportunities within your own business. Stay in your lane, focus on what is working and build upon that. Too many felt forced to “pivot” during the pandemic. – Sarah Benken, The KNOW Women

14. Be A Big Fish In A Small Pond

I would rather compete in an industry where competition is less motivated, fragmented or intelligent so I do not have to work as hard—a market in which I can win and capture more margin. If you play poker with someone, wouldn’t it be easier to win if you were smarter and more motivated than your opponent? – Sam Silverman, EB5 Affiliate Network

15. Solve Your Clients’ Problems

For us, disruption and innovation have been found in solving the clients’ pain points. Make life easier for the client and they will pay for the solution. Three years ago, we started taking insurance applications by phone and DocuSign for medical residents, then delivered their policy by text. They didn’t have time to sit at a computer. During the pandemic, this made all the difference for everyone. Easy. – Andra Grava, The DI Center

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