The Growing Lemonade Stand

by Laura Rich on March 30, 2009 in Work

lemons 150There are many cute sayings on how hard times bring about new discoveries. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” “Turning adversity to advantage.”

At Recessionwire, we’re always amazed by the stories of how people are dealing with the tough hand that’s being dealt us all right now, but the clichés don’t capture it  — the obstacles from without and especially within that go into taking this pile of, ahem, economic lemons and not simply dumping them but turning them into drinkable, sellable lemonade.

Brendan Barry was an excavating contractor in Massachusetts who saw the writing on the wall there in 2007 and moved to North Carolina, where his industry was still in better shape. But it shortly crumbled there, too, and Barry was laid off. After two tries with a business that wasn’t going anywhere, he decided to take what he had – skills as an excavator – and apply it to an area of growing need: harvesting rainwater.

“A lagging economy makes people look at their self-sustainability,” says Barry. “More people are planting vegetable gardens and heating with wood stoves. When we get back to basics, ‘all things old become new again.’”

Barry, who once tore down buildings, is now building up the water supply with rainwater collection systems.

For Chris Hand and James Young, it was a matter of survival. When their respective businesses started rapidly declining (and that’s putting it mildly), they faced no choice but to try something new. Chris Hand had been running a communications agency and recruiting business, both of which suffered a dramatic cut in clients’ budgets. Meanwhile, the recruiting and marketing businesses shifted from corporate needs to individuals’ needs, so he took his expertise and applied it to a new personal branding firm.

James Young’s real estate business fell off last year, but he saw that in his territory – the ritzy Hamptons at the east end of Long Island – there lacked an efficient (and cost-efficient) system for buyers to reach sellers, something much needed in a tightening market. To meet this need and address his own, he launched a website to connect them.

Jim Dowd got out before things really went south. Previously working as an IT strategist, Dowd worked with clients such as a private jet company and an online lending service. A friend told him, “You mean to tell me these guys are flying around on the imaginary profits from imaginary house values? This will not end well…”

But Dowd had skills that could help anyone, whether they were flying around in a G-Five or down on the ground in their homes, unemployed and struggling with their computers – especially those folks. So Dowd took his knowledge and his contacts and set up HelpGuest, a company that connects IT experts with freelance workers and startup ventures, all of whom (we can say from personal experience) need a heck of a lot of help on the tech front in this digital age.

Are you or someone you know making lemonade like these folks? We want to hear your stories. Please contact us on our Contact page, or send us an email at contact AT recessionwire DOT com.

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