Tenacity, the quality of being very determined, is not a word that gets bandied around much in the small business world, but it’s a hidden trait is common in successful business owners. These are the stubborn mules, the true believers that get through somehow; so many times I have seen their pure grit, determination and persistence. Many times it seems like the business is almost dead, with no way out, but somehow that spirit finds a way through. Pretty much all small businesses have had near death experience.
But from these hardships can come new opportunities, new ways of doing things and innovation that were forced by the hardship, or movements in the market. Right now there are many clever business owners that are finding ways through, with all sorts of innovation.
So to give you some inspiration, here are a few stories of businesses that grew out of tough times and have gone on to great success.
Groupon was founded in the middle of the 2008 GFC by Andrew Mason. During the recession, Groupon was able to deliver performance-based marketing solutions to connect businesses and brands with their customers. With discounts, incentives and product discovery, Groupon provided a way for companies to get exposure and consumers to ease back into discretionary spending. By 2010, Groupon had spread across 35 countries and 300 markets, creating US$500 million in profits.(1)
Airbnb was founded right before the GFC in 2007 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who had the initial idea of renting out an air mattress in their San Francisco living room. By 2008, hotels around the world were struggling to survive amidst the recession, which positioned the company perfectly to cater for the travellers who were priced out of hotels. In 2009, they received funding from top-tier VCs and experienced explosive growth resulting in becoming one of the largest accommodation platforms in world, with accommodation in 65,000 cities across 191 countries, 100 million guests per year, and US$8.5 billion in revenue as of 2020.(2)
Netflix, came as a response to the dying but once profitable video rental store and the new video-on-demand services made available through Comcast or Apple. In 2009, the peak of the recession, Netflix gained 3 million members. This was due to their new tv/movie streaming plan, which allowed subscribers to stream an unlimited amount of entertainment a month, along with their disc-delivery service. By adding a variety of price plans and different services, Netflix became notable for what they did, their customer service, and eventually brand recognition.(3) As of today, Netflix continue to grows with over 182.8 million subscribers worldwide.(4)
Other start-ups during or at the end of the GFC: Whatsapp, Uber, Pinterest, Dropbox, Slack, Kickstarter, LendingClub, Square, Cloudera, and many more.(5,6)
Whilst there may be tough times in your business right now, there may be the first light of a different and bright future.