Where to Look for Opportunities in an Economic Slump
You’ve probably heard it from politicians, news anchors, and even your peers:
“Everyone suffers during and economic slump. You just have to wait it out.”
That might be true, but the idea of simply waiting for the bad times to pass might not be as valid as it seems. Maniacal CNBC personality Jim Cramer is famous for signing off of his TV and radio programs by saying “there is always a bull market somewhere…” This could be used to refer to markets in other parts of the world or specific industries that are experiencing a boom despite overall bearishness.
But the idea of looking elsewhere for opportunities is not just something that can be applied to investing, it can be useful to anyone who is struggling as a result of the poor economy. Jobs and new business models are out there, but most people don’t know where to even start their search. Where are the golden opportunities in this current economic slump?
Some industries carry on with business as usual no matter what state the economy is in. People will always be getting sick and need health care services. Not only are doctors in high demand, but so are people at all levels of the health care industry, from lab technicians and medical assistants to brain surgeons.
Some entry level jobs only require a few months of training. Some places may have entry level positions right now: liquor stores, discount retailers, and tax preparation services. It’s no secret that so-called “sin industries” thrive during recessions. People drink more (perhaps instead of indulging in more expensive forms of entertainment) and also look for other cheap escapist experiences (insert whatever you think fits that description: tobacco, porn, video games – or even eviler pastimes, like karaoke).
Sure working at a discount retail store or a Big Box place like Walmart might be your definition of hell-on-earth, but if you are desperate for a job, these places are often hiring. This is because the Walmarts of the world are drawing their usual customer base plus additional customers who are slumming it because they need to cut their spending. And what about taxes? They will always be around, recession or not. If anything, people will be willing to hire a pro to do their taxes hoping that they will pick out extra deductions. That accounting class you took at college might be enough to get your foot in the door at your local store-front tax preparation service.
If things are looking bearish at home, it might be time to look abroad. ETFs (exchange traded funds) are a good way to reap the benefits of hot economies. Of course you have to know where to look. Europe doesn’t seem any better than the US right now. Depending on what happens in Italy and Greece, it might actually be much worse.
If thing start getting better, you might consider buying into European funds, but for now, it is probably better to look elsewhere. Brazil, Australia and Indonesia are experiencing good growth as are up-and-comers like Vietnam, China and India. All these places have EFTs that allow people to take advantage of the growth. Of course, in the electronic trading era, it is also possible to purchase individual stocks from these markets provided you are willing to do the research.
If you want to stay closer to home, look for stocks that are related to some of the industries that I mentioned in the Jobs section above. Brewers and booze distributors, accounting services, health care companies, pharmaceutical companies, and discount retailers are all worth checking out. Even in bad times, investing in solid companies is a must if you want to make a profit. Choosing a growing industry is not a substitute for knowing what you are doing.
Perhaps the recession has hurt your business or forced you to seek other ways to make some extra income. There are plenty of examples of entrepreneurs thriving when a recession hits. As the markets fell, gold prices rose and everyone from specialty stores to pawn shops started buying used gold jewelry, which they then sold to factories for a profit.
If you don’t have a pawn shop or aren’t in a position to pay hundreds for used gold, there are plenty of other reselling options. People are turning to places like eBay to sell their goods to get some extra cash. If you know about the market for certain products, you can purchase these items cheaply and sell them for market prices. Bank actions, where repossessed items are sold (sometimes cheaply), are another place to look. f you have skills as a plumber, mechanic, or some similar repair-oriented service, you might be able to get clients by undercutting other established businesses. People will be willing to give you a chance if you can save them some money.
If you look at it that way, no matter what your business is, if you can start offering your services for cheaper than the competition, this is a great time to launch a business.
About Josh Lew Josh Lew lives in the Midwestern US when he is not traveling. He is a columnist for Gadling and has contributed to Hackwriters and Skive Magazine.