by: Geoff Ficke

We live in perilous financial times. As the markets have imploded, home prices cratered, jobs lost and incomes uncertain many people have become very risk averse. Very understandable! Many of us are more focused on maintaining our resources than expanding them in the face of so many unknowns.

The American dream to successfully start and grow a self-owned business is always going to be with us. However, in times like these, some entrepreneur’s have become less willing to take the plunge into the ownership class. They are willing to wait until things settle; markets calm and funding sources return to prior levels. This is sound strategy for the timid, but these people are probably never going to be truly successful as business pioneers.

Recently I was in Spain and read a story about some French film students. Like so many creative artists, these young people are passionate about their art and fully committed to their dream of creating full-length films, in this case human rights documentaries. This is a very hard type of project to fund, even in the best of times. The market is brutally competitive, distribution is scarce and profits are very elusive for all but a few of the best productions. How in the world would these students find the funding they so desperately craved? They did it the old fashioned way: they got creative. They sold vanity to investors.

Have you ever sat through and paid attention to the credits listed so fully at the end of any movie or television show? They seem to scroll on forever. Each caterer, assistant caterer, food taster, drinks coordinator or executive chef is listed, fully named and titled. Over the past 20 years the number of producers, executive producers, assistant producers, joint venture producers and specialty producers credited has grown exponentially. This gave the students a simple, brilliant idea: We will sell credits for investment.

They started with other students, family, then used the internet. Credits were sold for various levels of financial contribution to the production, some for as few as 10 euro’s. It is amazing what some people will do to see their name in lights. Money poured in and the students were sufficiently financed to complete their film, present it at European film festivals and arrange distribution deals in various European media.

This is but one example of how serious, passionate entrepreneur’s search for alternative paths to bring their passion to markets. The opportunity has never been greater for those willing to get in the game. Is money tight? Of course it is. Has new business startups slowed down? Of course it has. Are people still trying to launch businesses, follow their dreams and present consumers with better products? Of course they are.

When business is booming, venture capital seemingly flowing endlessly and Since the beginning of time, until the middle of the 19th century the production of goods was conducted on an artisan, piece by piece basis. Over these many centuries the center of the individual’s universe was the local environ where commerce and enterprise were conducted on a small scale, often bartered basis. The idea of mass production was impossible to fathom. People predominantly lead lives of tremendous struggle and burden simply trying to subsist in an agrarian centric world with few hard goods produced other than tools, rudimentary clothing and dwellings.

Entrepreneur’s crawling out of the woodwork, well guess what, there is relatively speaking, no more opportunity that there is in soft times. In up cycles there is more activity chasing a finite number of resources. In down times, there is significantly less entrepreneurial opportunity chasing a still existing, but somewhat diminished pool of capital. It closely equals out.

The available capital necessary for funding exciting new opportunities is readily accessible if the entrepreneur is creative. The world economy will come out of this problem time. The products and services that are being prepared now will be the big winners when the pent up demand for new consumer products, technology, cosmetics, sporting goods, wellness products and a host of other categories explodes as consumers return to markets. Just remember, if it were easy to be successful everybody would be.

Venture capital and funding sources are always, especially now, seeking the best, most vibrant, creative opportunities. Make your product special, desirable and different and then, it really doesn’t make any difference what the economy is doing. You will be able to attract the resources needed to be successful.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, Inc. ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.