Before founding her own company, Dori Roberts had a stable job as an engineering teacher. She was very passionate about teaching engineering to kids, so much so, that when she learned that her own two kids (who were 5 and 7 at the time) love what her high school students are doing, she also wanted to start teaching them young. This is one of the things that inspired her to start an after-school club, providing a venue for kids as young as 4 years old to learn about engineering in a fun way.
One of the club’s first events was a summer camp where she was expecting 15 attendees, but in turn, had a total of 50 participants. Getting even more inspired by how much kids and their parents love and enjoy her program, Dori wanted to quit her teaching job and focus on her business—Engineering For Kids—full time. However, there’s a little circumstance that she had to really consider and think carefully about—she was a single mom and had two young children, and all these happened in the middle of a bad recession in 2009.
“You’re crazy. This is the worst time to start a business.”
This is was what people told her. They probably have a point, but Dori didn’t listen to them and instead, proved that they weren’t exactly right.
“Even though we were in the middle of a bad recession, I think parents were careful to spend their money wisely,” Dori said. True enough, the bad economy didn’t hinder the growth of her business. More and more kids and parents, and eventually, franchisees, became interested in Engineering for Kids, allowing it to grow to 150 locations in over 26 countries at present time.
A bad economy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the worst time to start
Like Engineering for Kids, several other companies both big and small were founded during a recession and thrived despite a bad economy.
A very popular example is Microsoft, founded by Bill Gates in 1975 when both unemployment rates and gas prices were very high. And of course, Apple, which was founded during the 1970s but had its resurgence with its release of the iPod in 2001, despite that year being in the middle of the “dot-com crash” and the year of the September 11 attacks.
If we reflect more on these examples, you’ll probably wonder, is there really a best and worst time to start a business? The answer would probably still be yes, but whether it’s a good or a bad time, wouldn’t really depend as much on the state of the economy as it would on the entrepreneur.
Evaluate Your Market before Deciding Whether It’s A Good or A Bad Time
In Dori Roberts’ case, despite the recession, parents were willing to spend their money to enroll their kids in her programs because they were able to appreciate the value that they and their kids will be getting in return. So aside from asking yourself how committed are you to reaching your business goals, you also have to ask yourself a few other questions:
How badly will people need or want the product or service you’re going to offer?
How much time and money will you have to invest before you’re ready to sell?
How many people will potentially purchase your product or service?
What makes your business unique? If there are other businesses offering products or services similar to yours, what additional value can you give to potential customers, making them choose you over them?
These can be some of the questions you ask yourself instead to help you evaluate your market and decide when is the most opportune time for you to start or go full-time.
Listen to Dori’s interview with me HERE to learn more:
So whether you’re new to entrepreneurship and wondering when is it best to start a business, or if you have an existing business, and looking to open a second, or a third one, keep in mind that as long as you’re creating and delivering something of value, and as long as you truly understand your market, the answer to when is the best time to start a business, is whenever YOU DECIDE it’s best to.
Don’t let circumstances or what other people think keep you from moving forward.