4 Ways to Find Business Opportunities in Difficult Times

We are in one of the most tumultuous economic times I have seen in my entrepreneurial career. Even the largest and most successful companies will be tested by changing capital markets, interest rates, geopolitics and inflation. However, these times also create some of the greatest opportunities for entrepreneurial teams.

For example, my first company, dotloop, was launched in 2009 in the midst of the global financial crisis – a time of drastic change in the US mortgage market. By conventional standards, this was not a good time to start an online real estate service. Despite the incredibly challenging macro environment, this was the best time we could have ever started that business, and I attribute much of our success to being alert to opportunities during a crisis. We remained focused on efficiencies and how to introduce better processes in the real estate sector. Our focus paid off and dotloop became a widely used product to streamline the transaction between agent and admin and was later acquired by Zillow.

Now, with my current company Pacaso, we raised our first round of financing in February 2020. Just a few days later, the pandemic started to change society in ways we couldn’t imagine. But what I didn’t realize at the time is that the pandemic would usher in a new definition of “freedom of place,” with remote work and nomadic living becoming more mainstream, a phenomenon that contributed significantly to Pacaso’s early momentum. It just goes to show that change can lead to new opportunities that often cannot be foreseen, and has the ability to spark great innovation and creative thinking.

Allow me to share my four keys to identifying and unlocking great opportunities during this time:

1. Seek clarity.

Fluctuating market conditions force clarity about your priorities. In uncertain times when resources are scarce, you need to prioritize the most important things and stay focused on the mission and long-term business goals.

Do you really need that new employee now, or can the existing team be organized differently to increase efficiency? Is the company invested in strategic bets that are too far from the core mission? Are you overspending on suppliers who provide services that can be managed in-house?

2. Be resourceful.

Take on the challenge of doing more with less. When resources are plentiful, it is easy to put money into people, problems and opportunities. But when your resources are limited, you need to find a way to achieve your goals and exceed customer expectations.

3. Embrace creativity.

Challenges force creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. A well-known example is performance marketing. When you have a large budget as a startup, it is easy to invest capital to acquire leads through performance marketing. But investing in performance marketing alone does not provide a diversified and sustainable recipe for success.

It’s important that a good marketing strategy also includes a mix of organic customer acquisition channels. Moments like these also force many opportunities to unlock some of those channels in new and interesting ways.

4. Reflect.

In anxious times, it can be tempting to only see what lies ahead and get lost in seemingly intractable problems. As a leader, people expect you to take control and be a calming, steady presence. But in times of crisis, it’s even more important to be the one to pause, breathe, and ensure that the work being done is anchored in the company’s mission, rather than just reacting to respond.

After all, life in business is just a compilation of highs and lows. It’s in the lows where the magic happens. Those are the moments when we build character and experience major breakthroughs. If you look back years and decades from now, those are the moments you will remember. Embrace the struggle and use this time of uncertainty and challenge to unlock new opportunities in your life and business.

The opinions expressed here by businesstraverse.com columnists are their own, not businesstraverse.com’s.