Entrepreneurs relying on their ability to change are emerging from the recession.
Since 2000, San Diego’s Milo Shapiro of PublicDynamics.com had been a speaker. In 2006, he added a coaching practice in public speaking, the use of Power Point presentations and speech writing. He began to emphasize it in 2009.
Although his market for motivational and keynote speches declined that same year, the telephone rang with requests for coaching. “In a competitive market,” he explains, “people need to be better at what they’re doing. Managers have to be able to explain a project. Speakers have to be top notch to keep getting hired.” He’s even helped sales reps with sales delivery.
While speaking pays more — $3,5000 to $5,000 per engagement — coaching services at $180 per hour to $400 per hour more than keep him in business. In addition, he loves it. His revenue was higher in 2010 than 2009.
“I’ve gotten several requests to speak about speaking,” he comments, “leading to speaking income, new coaching clients and more book sales.” He uses search engine optimization (SEO) and networking but obtains his largest clients from referrals.
GLOBALIZATION + INTERNET
Although Shapiro changed his focus, Adam Fridman of Idea2Result in Arlington Heights, Ill., restructured his business. He’d been a business development consultant for five years until his market of small- to medium-sized businesses suddenly evaporated in 2008. He noticed that these businesses, unable to pay his $75 per hour, had a heightened need to create revenue. “Recession doesn’t allow for a margin of error,” he says. “You no longer have the money and loans to withstand the mistakes.”
Fridman traded his company with more than 75 employees and high real estate expenses for virtuality. He created a lead generation and telemarketing services company for people in the United States and Canada, who select their consultants online. He has 30 professionals worldwide, none full-time in the United States. His site lists profiles of experienced (five years or more), degreed agents, trained by our country’s Fortune 500 companies and based in the Philippines. Fridman charges $14 per hour or $9 per hour plus $20 per appointment. Clients prefer the latter, because they’re paying for results.
Idea2Result, built on SEO, reached profitability in its first year. “No one cares where you are physically,” he comments from his home-office. “It’s what you can deliver.”
Rather than change company structure, John Boyd of Ridgefield, Conn., changed to monetization. He had a holding company for patents, TTB Technologies LLC, founded in 2005. Venture capital funding was drying up and the business for MeetingWave, his open platform, wasn’t producing sufficiently. In 2010 the company launched a software-as-a-service platform, a radical departure from software for free, or “freemium.” This year it launched mobile apps. All three, he says, “dramatically improve a user’s ability to arrange networking meetings with new real-world contacts.”
MeetingWave costs 99 cents throughout the platform but is optional for licensees in higher education. Licensing begins at $499 per month for education and, for conferences, expos and trade shows, $500 per event. Boyd anticipates profitability in the second quarter.
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“During the recession,” Boyd says, “if we hadn’t pivoted to monetization, we wouldn’t be expecting to be profitable.” He says that the shift has created a much better climate in which to do business.
With new patent applications pending, Boyd also did something that tugged at his heart. He sold his two groups of patents for more than $100,000 each. “It was difficult to do,” he remarks, “because they were something I’d created and they’d provided protection.”
The recession changed these three entrepreneurs, if only by inspiring or driving them to change their businesses. Doing so is enabling them to dig out.