Turning Crises into Opportunities

Courtesy of youngadultcrisishotline

Many would know that these are challenging times. The financial markets have collapsed, retirees are losing their life savings in complex derivative financial products, inflation has reared its ugly head, and the China melamine milk scare has seized many with fear. According to many economists, the prognosis is bleak for the next two years or so. Friends in the financial sector have also told me that the prospect of losing their jobs are very real.

Against such a gloom and doom scenario, what can one do? Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? My answer is yes. Depending on your experience and training, there are opportunities out there if you know how to seize them.

Debonair investor Oei Hong Leong is one of them. His investment and gift of $1 million worth of shares in AIG (considered highly risky by most) shot up to $5 million practically over night. The LKY School of Public Policy is now the proud beneficiary of that shot of savviness. Philanthropy at its most creative!

Beyond the equities market, there are little rays of sunshine that one can capitalise on. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1) Provide a health advisory service for the illiterate and uneducated, advising them on the truth behind melamine and other related threats to physical well-being. Help them to take practical steps to protect their loved ones and they will love you for it.

2) Be seen as the champion in "value for money" living. Help people to reduce their costs of living by helping them to dissect what their typical monthly bills are like and to discard items of largesse while opting for cheaper alternatives.

3) If you are financially savvy, now is a good time to be in the financial advisory service. Seek to provide independent counsel which looks after the best interest of your clients - not your backers. Help people to look at re-evaluating their investments, and to reprioritise their financial goals.

4) Go into the business of recycling. Second hand may sometimes be just as good as brand new, if one doesn't mind a little scratch here or dent there. Cash-strapped folks wouldn't mind buying an older model of a product from other equally cash-strapped folks whose investments have gone south. Be the value added intermediary.

5) Embrace a holistic health business for mind, body and soul. People are now more stressed than ever and will need both physical and mental relief. Don't just open yet another yoga centre or spa. Instead, see if you can offer "mobile meditation" or other services that go deep into the HDB heartlands where the pain is most acute.

6) Restrategise and rejuvenate. If business is slow, consider taking a few days off to rethink what works and what doesn't. Do an offsite brainstorming session and see what would work better than others.

7) Finally, and most importantly, invest in relationships. When times are shaky, people tend to stick to what or who they know best. For so many years, marketing and advertising has been cold, heartless and calculating. It is time to really get to know your customers, understand their fears and concerns and find ways to solve their problems.

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