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By Mark Kolakowski, December 23, 2008

A recent article in The Economist notes that the best time to launch a new business is when big firms are cutting back. That is, in times like today.

The idea is to find a market niche with long-term potential that the corporate giants are abandoning in a shortsighted short-term push to cut costs and to reduce heads. Also, entrepreneurs with nerve, patience and financial resources should be looking at key internal functions that the big firms are trimming or shutting down today, but which they soon will find that they can't live without. In that case, these companies soon may be scrambling to find outside providers.

For example, I say firsthand how market research functions were cut back in the 2001-03 retrenchment. These are bound to be among the activities most likely to be targeted again today.

We've already noted how banks have remarkably weak internal capabilities in loan modification, making this a field ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurs with the requisite skills. Sometimes, of course, becoming your own boss is the result of finding no other option, having been laid off and unable to land elsewhere. As the old adage goes, when given a pile of lemons perhaps it's time to make lemonade.

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