The economy is awful, credit is drying up, companies and consumers are cutting back spending, and jobs are being lost in the millions world-wide. It is very overwhelming and for most the question is what opportunities exist.
Opportunities are always available if you anticipate the needs of the market and have a value message that solves their current gaps. If your skills and talents can be used to grow revenue then you have a sales opportunity because many companies are struggling with growing the top line. Your job is to get the message out in front of the buyer.
What most companies are doing is reducing travel, training, new purchases (equipment and hardware), new projects, and people (Internal and Contractors). This makes it very difficult to propose ideas and projects that have significant capital outlays. If you have any revenue growing ideas related to this spending you better have a solid business case, quick payback, and good return for these clients. Now is the time to brush up on your finance and make sure that your proposals are based on solid financial analysis.
I don’t think a lot of companies will be doing large upgrades to office applications at this moment or buying additional licenses. There are a lot of good open source solutions and Saas software on the market. I think the interest for companies to pilot these lower cost applications would be ideal so go out and study the new technologies like salesforce.com or projectoffice.net.
Right now is a great opportunity for those that can "streamline" processes. Efficiency related to running any part of the business that reduces cost but does not hurt revenue or increase business risks is a big need. In these market conditions companies usually react by doing blanket reductions in budgets and usually cut away more than waste during these periods. If you have any surgical talents related to costs cutting then sell it. This is different than the outsourcing market. A lot of help is needed in the outsourcing area as well because transitioning services from one location to another does require external expertise.
In the longer run, 12 - 18 months out, you will see companies hurting because of how they reacted to the cost cutting. Cost cutting is usually done very poorly and produces only a short term relief for most and long term pain once that option has been exercised. The cost cutting and loss of people (knowledge base) will hurt companies and they will start looking for outside help for ideas and qualified people to support internal strategy and projects once again.
The best thing to realize is that opportunities do exist and it is up to you to brush up on your skills related to finance and selling. The world is always changing and technology and innovation will be born out of this recession so keep up and learn the new technologies. Remember that taking action is what makes most successful and creates opportunities.