Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

5 Recession-Era Recovery Strategies for Young Entrepreneurs The recession may be over, but the lessons learned from that dark period will be hard to forget.

By Martin Zwilling

Driven by the recent recession, smart entrepreneurs are jumping into the fray with new ideas, new recovery strategies and discarding outmoded business models. Though, few groups are embracing this brave new world more than Millennials.

Shocked out of entitlement into action by the recession, Millenials, or Gen Yers as those who've grown up with the internet are often referred, will lead the charge back from the recession, says Donna Fenn, the co-founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Council and author of "Upstarts! How GenY Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business." She describes a new generation of entrepreneurs that is highly collaborative, quick and alert when it comes to new technologies, and one that's hell-bent on changing the world in general.

The qualities that will carry Millenials through the bad times may be innate, but, in her book, Fenn reveals critical lessons that entrepreneurs of all ages can benefit from. Here are five key recession-inspired recovery strategies that both Fenn and I recommend:

  1. Pursue repeat business. It's far less expensive to nail down repeat business from your existing customers than it is to land new ones. Now is the time to reap the benefits of those good customer relationships that you've been cultivating.

  2. Focus on your core competency. Examine every cost in your business. Maybe it's time to outsource that call-center operation or complex manufacturing setup. Look for activities that are hogging resources without generating significant revenue.

  3. Snap up top talent. Past layoffs at big companies mean that there's a surplus of great employees on the market now. Examine your pool of higher-paid contractors and freelancers. Now is the time to bring on board those people who would have been inaccessible in a better economy.

  4. Respond rapidly to market shifts. The economy is almost certainly having a profound impact on your customers: They may have altered their purchasing habits or found themselves with entirely different needs. It's your opportunity to respond to those shifts. These are chances to broaden your product line, change distribution channels or offer new services.

  5. Look for hidden revenues. Sometimes your best source of new revenue is right under your nose. For instance, offering new services in support of your products could be a good starting point. One entrepreneur in Fenn's book had a proprietary technology to efficiently manage vendors which works so well that she is now marketing it to other companies for a transaction fee.

Most founders I know agree that the recession has taught them the art of laser-like focus. It's also forced them to make better decisions, become more frugal and initiate systems and procedures that will help position them in the economic recovery. Simply deciding to lay low and "tough it out" was never a winning strategy.

I agree with Fenn that this recession has actually been a valuable "wake-up call" for many in Gen Yers. It's forced them to face the reality of hard knocks. Similarly, though, it should be a wake-up call for the rest of us, or we'll all get run out by young entrepreneurs!

What is your best recession-inspired business strategy? Leave a comment and let us know.

Martin Zwilling

Veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and Angel investor.

Martin Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners. The author of Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur? and Attracting an Angel, he writes a daily blog for entrepreneurs and dispenses advice on the subject of startups.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.


How to Break Free From the Cycle of Overthinking and Master Your Mind

Discover the true cost of negative thought loops — and practical strategies for nipping rumination in the bud.

Side Hustle

These Brothers Had 'No Income' When They Started a 'Low-Risk, High-Reward' Side Hustle to Chase a Big Dream — Now They've Surpassed $50 Million in Revenue

Sam Lewkowict, co-founder and CEO of men's grooming brand Black Wolf Nation, knows what it takes to harness the power of side gig for success.

Growing a Business

It's Time to Prioritize Regular Performance Reviews — Here's Why Reviews Are Essential for Employee and Company Growth

Regular check-ins, focused discussions about goals and progress and constructive feedback build a thriving work environment.

Business Solutions

This is Your Last Chance to Get Microsoft Office for $25

Lock in a lifetime of access to 2019's Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more favorites for your business.

Business News

Court Halts Graceland Foreclosure, Elvis' Granddaughter Calls Paperwork 'Forgeries'

The 13.8-acre estate was scheduled to be sold in a public foreclosure auction on Thursday. Presley's granddaughter and heir, Riley Keough, is fighting to save Graceland in court.