SOHO opportunities: Picking up the pieces of the recession

Can a small business or SOHO business survive the recession? During the Christmas season, retailers felt the harsh realities of the economy as they saw lower-than-expected sales. Some will not survive, and the big discount retailers (like Wal-Mart) are getting whatever business there is, as cash-strapped consumers hustle for bargains. The latest casualty is Circuit City, which in the face of intense competition from rivals like Best Buy has been forced to liquidate and close all of its stores--including its computer repair division, Firedog.

But the shuttering of Firedog may spell an opportunity for SOHO computer repair shops and local solution providers. Many such small solution providers have seen their business go to places like Firedog, which despite some criticism about its capabilities, brought customers in because of the convenience aspect and association with a known brand. Firedog competes with Best Buy's Geek Squad.

The small independents may have a window of opportunity here to get business, before customers switch from Firedog to Geek Squad, and before Wal-Mart decides to get in on the act, too. I've not heard of any plans from the giant retailer, but it would make sense--they have everything else in their store, why not a Geek Squad competitor? If such a thing were to occur, it would be one of the last nails in the coffin for local computer repair shops. But for now, it's time for the little guys to strike while the iron is hot.

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