07/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

5 Reasons to Start a Business in a Recession

Have you ever gone on a shopping spree at J. Crew? Hit the salad bar at Whole Foods? Or imbibed a tasty, sugar-laden cocktail at Applebee's? If so, you're among the many Americans tempted by the fruits of companies that budded during a recession. These three chains, along with countless others -- including over half of the 30 corporations that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- turned lemons into lemonade (or, in Applebee's case, lemon drop martinis) and looked up in a down economy. Why is now as good a time -- or arguably, an even better time -- than ever to follow your passion and start your own business? Read on.

1. Supply is less expensive. Whether you're looking to stock up on office space or an inventory of garments for your new clothing boutique, you can buy many of your supplies at a discount. And suppliers are more likely to be open to negotiation. So don't settle for the first price they drop; ask if they'll go lower, especially if you're buying in bulk and vow to place repeat orders.

2. Help is more affordable. Enlist some friends, perhaps one who collected severance post-layoff and isn't struggling to make ends meet, to lend a helping hand. Otherwise, if you're looking to hire personnel, it's likely you'll find talent willing to work for slightly less. Employees are anxious to get in on a company that's actually growing despite tough economic times, especially if they know that rewarding returns might flow freely after business kicks in -- even if that's a few years away.

3. Competitors are weak in the knees. With customers cutting back their spending on big-name brands, many companies are taking a hit. As a result, the pipeline is slowing, and executives are putting a hold on advertising and marketing efforts that help spread the word. Other big companies are shutting their doors completely. In turn, there's more opportunity for budding companies to make a debut.

4. Customers are looking for cheap alternatives. Let's face it: A greater number of tall, skinny latte addicts are forgoing their Starbucks habit, and more shoppers are bargain hunting to save a penny. Therefore, your new corner coffee shop or line of chic tees and tanks might be just the cheap alternative they're looking for. Produce a fantastic product below market value, and you're bound to garner some attention, particularly in times like these when frugality is in.

5. Motivation is contagious right now. Here comes the feel-good portion of this piece, just in case you're not already overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of launching your own biz. It has been proven anecdotally that in the face of adversity, people buck up and work even harder to find success. Such motivation all around can spread like wildfire, inspiring you to launch the business of your dreams with steadfast effort, determination, and care. You can also count on support from family, friends, and the community to back you up, as people love to see a glimmer of hope in dark, uncertain times. The time to shine is now.