The Economy is Brutal, but Some Businesses Boom
USA TODAY -- Even as the nation's automakers, big banks, retailers and others are laying off hundreds of thousands of workers and fighting for survival, some companies large and small quietly are setting sales records and even expanding because they provide products or services that worried, cost-obsessed consumers are willing to pay for.
A few of the recession's beneficiaries are big public companies with household names: Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Family Dollar. They earned profits last year, and their stock prices soared because they kept doing what they do well: selling stuff that everyone needs, cheaply.
But many businesses that are thriving during the recession are not big or famous.
"They are small or midsize companies with few levels of management that can make changes quickly," says Mark Perry, an economics professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.
"The role of entrepreneurs might be even more important during a recession," he says. "Their ability to be nimble and innovative and adapt to change become key advantages."
History seems to bear that out: Many long-standing businesses and jobs have been created during and right after a downturn. Monopoly, which owner Hasbro says is the world's most popular board game, was patented during the Great Depression. Microsoft, which made co-founder Bill Gates the world's richest man, was launched in 1975, after the 1970s recession.