Is Now the Best Time to Start a Consulting Business?

There are two schools of thought on this. Many people believe that during a global economic downturn is the best time to start your own business, especially if you’ve lost your job and can’t find a new one. On the other hand, there is that tight economy to consider – when nobody can afford to spend, who are your customers? And can you get a business loan if you need one?

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle and the real question should be is there ever a right time to start a business?

The Competition
There is little competition from a business who is still in recession-thinking mode, afraid to start hiring again and be business as usual, or struggling to keep going on limited staff and outsourcing, and if you pay attention to them, you’d think now is not a good time to start business. The problem with this thinking is while they are holding off until they are really confident the worst of the global recession is over before investing in their business again, it is this very same hesitancy that is placing restraints on global (and their) recovery.

This could be the same reason budding entrepreneurs are holding off starting their own business, too. They are waiting for that magic sign that now is the right time. They want the odds stacked more in their favor and that is understandable, but remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? Are you napping (waiting), or moving ahead albeit slowly towards your goal?

For and Against
There are good reasons for and against starting a business at any time, but to use the global financial crisis as an excuse not to is nonsensical given the number of government agencies available ready to support new business startups. Successful small businesses are the backbone of the country. A large organization can go to the wall and negatively impact the community in which it is situated, but when small businesses go to the wall, the effect is felt on a national level.

If you are worried about starting a business right now, consider how you can modify your business plan to make a start. What could you do differently to begin with that will help you get started? There are many famous companies today who got their start during a recession or during a time when nay-sayers were saying it wasn’t a good time to start a business. They had big dreams but they started off modestly and built from there. One example is Southwest Airlines. They begin in 1971 with just three Boeing 737 aircraft serving just 3 cities in Texas. Today they operate 548 Boeing 737 aircraft serving 72 cities. In fact, according to their website, year end results for 2010 was their 38th consecutive year of profitability. Recession? Obviously, they haven’t heard about it.

A Valuable Clue
Actually, therein lies a valuable clue in answering our question. Recession or no recession, people still need to fly. They don’t need all the frills and champagne and caviar, especially when money is tight, hence the popularity of no frills flights. So thinking back to your business idea, how can you change it to make it a viable idea right now? What is your no-frills, bottom line business idea looking like?

The real dilemma for you is if you keep waiting for the perfect time to start your own business, what will you do if it never arrives? Think of all the time you’ll have wasted and all the competitors who’ll have got the jump on you.

The important point to remember is that new businesses do start up and thrive during economic crises. When so many businesses do go to the wall during a recession, this unfortunate loss also means an empty space has been left for a new entrepreneur to fill. And quite often, these businesses enjoy a long and successful life because they have had to be innovative and creative and clever in order to make it. Not burdened with some of the tough decisions existing businesses have to face during difficult times, new businesses can move forward unencumbered and with more freedom to experiment without hurting anyone.

The Danger of Waiting
If you keep waiting for the right time, you may miss the boat and find when you do get the courage to start that others have already taken your idea and run with it. Of course, you can always compete with them, but how far ahead might you have been if you had not procrastinated? You could be the leader, not the follower!

If you wait until the global economy is healthy, you will be competing with established businesses who are bouncing back and getting all your customers and it will require strong marketing to get your share. If you jump in now you’ll have less competition and the chance to build at a safe and steady pace, attracting customers and establishing your reputation.

Sure, if you build it they will come is a good line from a movie and not realistic for a business start-up, but if you don’t start to build it, they will never come because you don’t exist.

There is no perfect time to start a business and now is as good a time as any – you might just have to modify your grand plans and be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember softly softly catchy monkey!

Business mentor Terri Levine specializes in helping entrepreneur-owned businesses achieve record-breaking growth. Based in Philadelphia, Terri is founder and CEO of Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc., The Professional’s Coach Training Program. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CNBC and MSNBC, and in more than 1,500 publications. She is the best-selling author of Sell Without Selling, Coaching Is for Everyone and Stop Managing Start Coaching. Learn more at http://www.TerriLevine.com. Contact Terri at terri@terrilevine.com.

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  • Joshua

    Very good points you share here Terri!

  • great post…I think it’s a good time to start a new business, but I’m a little biased 🙂

  • Ben Riddle

    Starting a business in recession can result in a good or a bad effect. Either it may result in easy start-up as you have lost your job recently or it may result in a complete failure with no customers to work.

    http://sandiegobizopportunities.com/

  • The “Best Time” to begin consulting is when you have:
    1. Relevant content for a specific type of clients,
    2. A plan to market, sell and deliver your content,
    3. Clients ready to buy and/or a long runway (1 year of income in savings), and
    4. A support network professional peers to help you get started.

    I’m sure others will have nuggets of wisdom to share, but really the best time to start consulting is up to you, not about timing with the economy.

  • The “Best Time” to begin consulting is when you have:
    1. Relevant content for a specific type of clients,
    2. A plan to market, sell and deliver your content,
    3. Clients ready to buy and/or a long runway (1 year of income in savings), and
    4. A support network professional peers to help you get started.

    I’m sure others will have nuggets of wisdom to share, but really the best time to start consulting is up to you, not about timing with the economy.

  • very interesting