Sell Snowblowers in the Winter, Not Lawn Mowers

Every week I get about a dozen or so inquiries from friends, colleagues or readers of this blog asking me what I think about so-and-so idea.  Usually it's in the context of soliciting advice on how to raise money for their idea / business.  The problem with most of the business ideas I see is they they are pretty much the same today as those I've seen for the past few years.  Typically they are very early stage (usually pre-revenue and often pre-product) companies that have a partial management team and hope to raise $2-5 million to "go build it."

I've been repeating myself so many times I'm just going to write it here.  The seasons have changed.  It's now winter….so stop trying to sell lawn mowers in the winter!

All hope is not lost.  Far from it.  People still buy things in the winter, what they buy is different though.  True all the landscaping businesses are in trouble in this economy, at least the ones not forward-thinking enought to have a complementary snow removal service.  Many are going (or have gone) out of business.  But I see a lot of opportunity.

For example, today I got this "business update" from a company called SecondMarket.  They are a self described "marketplace for illiquid assets."  They help companies dispose of investments in PE, VC or even individual companies.  They assist with work-outs and bankruptcy.  Wow, what a great business to be in right now!  Read their update (below).  They hired 13 new people in Q4 of last year!

And it's not just the undertakers that are doing well in this economic winter.  There are bright spots in smart-grid technology, healthcare IT and greentech.  And many more that I don't know of.

So here's my final thought on this topic.  Assume it's going to be "winter" for a few years.  Then take a hard look at your current business (or business plan) and ask yourself if it is a lawn mower or a snowblower.