Heard the news lately - or felt it in your wallet?
Inflation. Recession. The writing’s on the wall and things look a bit scary.
The good news is there are solid strategies available to help your small business make it through these trying times. Let’s take a look at some of the best recession-proof business ideas.
1. Launch an online component of your business
Boosted by the pandemic, e-commerce is projected to make up around 24% of global retail sales by 2024.
Every industry or niche could have an online component. The goal is to make your products and services as convenient as possible to many people.
Here’s some inspiration from a variety of small business types:
Enable online meal ordering through your website. Or take advantage of popular food-ordering apps like GrubHub or DoorDash.
Live-stream fitness classes. Bring in an e-commerce component with supplements and gym passes available for sale on your site.
Provide virtual walk-throughs of your services online. Follow this with well-explained packages for immediate purchase and video consultations.
Offer online ordering and convenient, gas-saving pickup locations. Or simply add an e-commerce option with traditional mailing and local delivery options.
No-code apps are easy and inexpensive to develop - and they can make for a nice stream of passive income for your business. Develop yours, then monetize it. Choose from ads, subscriptions, and download fees, plus various other marketplace models.
2. Repackage Your Products and Services
“How can I support my customer through these challenging times?”
This should be your guiding question as you think through any changes to your product or service offerings. Keep in mind how the priorities of your target customer might shift during a recession, and cater to that.
For the best information, talk to your customers and collect survey responses, while keeping an eye on industry trends.
Focus your business ideas on recession-proof items. Food, baby items, cleaning supplies, medicine - the stuff of survival is the thing here. And that includes emotional survival. People will splurge on small luxuries like lipstick and chocolates to make up for having to give up bigger things.
Group your services into thoughtful packages, with names that indicate the big benefit to your customers. This helps clients understand why those services get grouped together, and the problem that gets solved in the process.
You could also combine forces with another, complementary business. That way the customer only has to make one hire instead of two.
Multiple income streams
For all businesses, a variety of income streams means you’re not putting all your eggs in one revenue basket. That's an especially good idea during uncertain times.
To ensure you’re using your resources correctly, test new ideas before implementing them fully. Keep a careful eye on your numbers as you go, then do more of what’s working!
3. Launch a B2B component
Sell to other businesses if you haven’t started already. Often these business-to-business relationships are under-targeted by retail and service businesses - so they represent a whole new frontier.
Keep in mind that businesses are made up of people, with human needs.
The human touch you bring as a small local business is a HUGE advantage over other big corporations. Personalized customer service inspires loyalty and goes a long way. So, stay confident and remember the advantage you have there.
As you approach the company you want to work with, think carefully about the best person to speak with. Then, explain how you can help solve a pressing problem while giving them a great deal.
For example, if you’re a restaurant, you can solve the problem of employee lunchtime hunger. Promote your local lunch hour or takeaway offerings. You might give a special discount, package deal, or free delivery to employees of local businesses.
Also, make it easy for businesses to act on and distribute your offer to their employees. One restaurant owner might provide a scannable email coupon, plus a printed stack of paper coupons with flyers that can go out to company offices.
Making yourself indispensable is possibly the strongest recession-proof business idea of all.
4. Offer consulting services
You can sell consulting services regardless of your industry and with little to no overhead or other extra costs involved. Just think about who would benefit the most from your knowledge and expertise.
As an example, a restaurant owner could offer cost-reduction or sales consultations to other restaurants. A local retailer could do the same for other retailers nationally, or a broad swathe of local businesses.
Whatever your industry, think of where you have the most developed sense of strategy. What do you know about improving and scaling businesses? Then, package your expertise and offer it up for sale as a service.
Once you’ve done some consulting work, you might consider public speaking as a next step. Simply charge a fee to deliver your game-changing perspective to live groups, or send an employee out to present on your company’s behalf.
5. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing means promoting, or being promoted by, other businesses in your industry or local area.
The most common approach is monetizing your website through online links. This works best if you have a decent flow of traffic to your website already.
To get started, find other companies with products you support that have affiliate programs. You’ll insert custom links to their products into your blogs or ads. Then, when someone clicks the link it gets traced back to you and you get a commission.
A great example of an affiliate program that sets up a win-win for you and your customers is the one offered by Spotz. When a fellow business owner signs up to rent their empty spaces out through our service, you get a percentage of the commission fee.
The more businesses that sign up through your custom link, the more money you make. Just as importantly, your community generates more income to survive whatever’s coming. And in the process, you all get more great places for people to gather.
Email affiliate marketing
Ethical email affiliate marketing involves getting permission to promote your business to another business’s email audience. Ideally you’ll want to partner with businesses who already have the attention of your target customer. If you mostly serve a localized clientele, that might mean another local business.
You may offer to write an article that links to your products or services. Or you may simply pay for an advert in their email newsletter.
As you approach the other businesses, focus your pitch on how relationships are what will get us through these tough times. That way it should be easy to sell these recession-proof business ideas!
6. Rent under-used space
We saved the best for last here. Whether you’re a restaurant, an office, a retail store, a coffee shop - or any other venue under the sun - renting out your space is a terrific option.
It generates passive income for you while helping people in your community come together.
Never considered it before? Well, here are some ideas:
- A coffee shop rents out its back room to a visiting dance troupe that needs last-minute practice space
- A skateboard store rents out its space after hours for a community meeting
- An office rents its unused space as a conference overflow space
- A movie theater rents out its spaces to church groups
- A restaurant handles its party room reservations through an automated online system. This makes it more convenient for all parties involved to simply touch a few buttons online, get ready, and show up!
The key here is using the right software. Look for a searchable cloud-based online system that allows your community to discover your empty spaces online.
It should also automate the rental process and allow you to easily manage your inventory and communication all in one place. This means minimal workload for your staff and maximum convenience for your customers.
An all-around happy experience means return customers and repeat business!
Which recession-proof business ideas will you try?
Choose one of the things from this list and get started today.
Of course, at Spotz, we’re a little biased toward the last option. And we’ve got software that has renting out your empty spaces down to a smooth science. It truly couldn’t be easier. Watch our 4-minute demo now!