The past few months have been scary for most of the world, and the uncertainty of many businesses as a result of extended closures and halts in operations have caused many to question whether the next recession is looming. Although a significant economic downturn may be unavoidable, not all hope is lost for entrepreneurs who are hoping to start or grow a business in the next couple of years. Many businesses not only survive– but thrive during recessions, thanks to a mix of creativity, luck, and a keen eye for opportunity. Here are a few companies that famously expanded during a recession.
This company was founded in 1928, but the Disney brothers incorporated just as the Great Depression reared its ugly head in 1929. Walt and Roy were driven to get their production studio off the ground because they felt that America needed a reason to smile, and let’s just say their hunch was right. Throughout the great depression they kept their business afloat with animated shorts, and were able to create their first full length film, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs just as the Great Depression came to a close.
Sometimes a pivot is all you need to keep your business running. Mailchimp did just that in 2009, when their original business model, which focused on corporate clients with large annual retainers was no longer viable. The email marketing company switched to a freemium model, opening up their platform to hundreds of thousands more users, and effectively overhauling their business for the better.
The online deal promotion giant Groupon was founded in 2008, when the recession was hitting both businesses and consumers hard. Andrew Mason recognized that companies needed a low-cost way to connect with customers, and that consumers were open to trying new products and services as long as the price was right. The rest is history!
The go-to streaming platform for millions across the globe, Netflix’s ability to weather the dotcom bubble burst of the late 90s can be attributed to the company’s willingness to adapt to changing times. Starting out as a mail-in movie service, their transition to media streaming was a game changer for the company, who is now the most recognizable brand in streaming today.
Perhaps the most famous example of a company that thrived despite an economic downturn, Airbnb was founded in 2008, when travellers were more eager than ever to find more affordable travel options, and when homeowners were looking to supplement their income. The success of Airbnb in their first year in operation earned some funding from VCs, which subsequently catapulted their growth.
So you see, there’s hope for businesses starting out in these uncertain times. With a little creativity, a lot of flexibility, and an unwavering willingness to do the work, entrepreneurs can thrive in these strange times. What’s your favourite example of a company that grew or expanded during a recession?