How a dire situation sparked a small town’s entrepreneurial spirit and created business opportunities

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While I was back east this past winter, my charming little west coast village underwent a major transformation. Restrooms are boarded up and notices declaring a draught emergency are pasted everywhere. Port-a-potties stand behind businesses and along state park beaches.
Many residents save their bath and dish water in buckets to flush toilets and water plants. Some with large gardens have plastic water drums in their yards.
Tourists find it all unsightly and inconvenient but the situation is dire and frightening. It also says a lot about the local residents. While other drought-affected cities continue to water lawns and golf courses and carelessly consume, people here respect this limited resource and the need to conserve to fight forest fires.
The situation has also sparked the spirit of entrepreneurship. In a town without one chain store or franchise, every single business in town was someone’s creative invention. So it makes sense that a whole new breed of entrepreneurs has risen to the challenge. Nearly anyone with a pickup truck or trailer now has a service delivering recycled water and the port-o-pottie business is thriving.

There are some who say that people shouldn’t profit from unfortunate situations but consider undertakers, towing companies and people who make and sell prosthetics. Many valuable businesses are created as a solution to an unmet need. Is it taking advantage of someone with a flat tire to charge them to patch it? Should surgeons put a stint in a clogged artery for free? If my child had learning disabilities, shouldn’t the reading specialist receive a salary to teach her?

Creating a business that answers a challenge is not dirty money. If you see a problem and find a solution, you deserve to be paid well for it.

Can you think of instances when you were in a painful situation and couldn’t find the tool or help you needed or when someone you cared about was suffering? What product or service was lacking? This is often how successful and meaningful businesses are born.

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