Tough Times Call For New Ideas

The Wall Street Journal:

The savviest entrepreneurs right now aren’t hunkering down. They’re rethinking their business models and hunting for new strategies based on the assumption that consumer spending won’t be rebounding to prerecession levels and that the types of products and services people want will be much different from before.

For a business owner, this can mean finding new sales channels, trying new marketing tactics and promotions, forming strategic partnerships and introducing new products that appeal to frugal shoppers.

Stone Hearth Pizza, an organic-pizza chain with three small restaurants in the Boston suburbs, considered opening a fourth restaurant last fall when they were approached by natural-foods grocery chain Whole Foods Market about selling prepackaged pizzas in the stores’ refrigerated-foods section.

After evaluating the idea, the founders decided starting a wholesale channel would diversify their business at a time when consumers are dining at home more because of the weak economy.

Heather Becker, owner of the Chicago Conservation Center, which restores artwork and antique furniture for private collectors, corporations and small museums, recently launched a free email newsletter with tips and information about conserving artwork. She sends it to about 20,000 previous customers every other month.

She is also promoting free in-home consultations for area residents with questions about conserving their collections, and will provide advice to collectors who email photos.

Becker hopes that expanding consulting and educational services will garner more trust and appreciation among her customers, leading to new revenue streams.

Photo by katagaci.

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