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Is a recession a good time to start a business?

Many large businesses have started during a depression, from Walt Disney during the Great Depression to companies like Apple and Amazon. So it is possible to forge ahead with your new business, and with innovative thinking, you could create something bigger and bolder than you may have first imagined.

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It may seem like an odd question to ask as experts are predicting one of the worst recessions in our history. But, as millions of people across the world are starting to panic about the future, many might have been preparing to create a new business venture. So is it time to stop and wait? Or, should we continue with our plans and focus on the future. 

The key to success is a healthy business plan.
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Firstly, there isn’t ever a good time to start a business. Whenever you make the leap, you are going to come up against all kinds of issues. The key to success is a healthy business plan. If you started on this before the current global crisis, then it’s time to revisit it. You need a good financial advisor who can help go through your plan and all of the economic forecast. They will be able to help you highlight areas of concern once the recession begins. This could mean making a few changes and bringing in some extra measures to help you get through the most challenging months ahead. 

Many large businesses have started during a depression, from Walt Disney during the Great Depression to companies like Apple and Amazon. So it is possible to forge ahead with your new business, and with innovative thinking, you could create something bigger and bolder than you may have first imagined. 

One type of business that does well during a recession is real estate, mainly if you are a wholesale real estate agent—essentially acting as the middle man between seller and real estate investor. During a recession, you could sell more wholesale real estate with Visi’s partner program, and you may also be able to invest in properties and build your portfolio of rentals. 

Although restaurants have taken a hit during the pandemic, they offer a place of joy and normality in a recession. So if you are starting up a new cafe or diner, then work out some nights when you lower your prices to keep people coming through the doors. 

If you are offering a service such as kitchen installations or plumbing services, do lots of research on your competitors in the local area. Find a USP that will deliver something that the competition doesn’t. Make your marketing snappy and personal so that consumers remember you. Even if money is tight, people still need home services and might also find a new kitchen is affordable if you offer staged payments.

Take your original plan and fit it around the worst-case scenarios. How could you change what you do to offer the consumer something they can’t refuse. How could your business capitalise from the financial crisis that is happening around it?

Essentially the world keeps turning even during a recession, so yes, it’s possible to start your new business and make a success of it, you may also find that it was the best time to kick start your future. Have a strong plan and be confident.

Health & Wellness

Transgender and gender-diverse individuals more likely to be autistic

Transgender and gender-diverse adult individuals were between three and six times more likely to indicate that they were diagnosed as autistic compared to cisgender individuals. While the study used data from adults who indicated that they had received an autism diagnosis, it is likely that many individuals on the autistic spectrum may be undiagnosed.

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Transgender and gender-diverse adults are three to six times more likely as cisgender adults (individuals whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth) to be diagnosed as autistic, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre.

This research – “Elevated rates of autism, other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses and autistic traits in transgender and gender-diverse individuals” – was conducted using data from over 600,000 adult individuals, and it confirms previous smaller scale studies from clinics. The results are published in Nature Communications.

A better understanding of gender diversity in autistic individuals will help provide better access to health care and post-diagnostic support for autistic transgender and gender-diverse individuals.

The team used five different datasets, including a dataset of over 500,000 individuals collected as a part of UK’s Channel 4 documentary “Are you autistic?”. In these datasets, participants had provided information about their gender identity, and if they received a diagnosis of autism or other psychiatric conditions such as depression or schizophrenia. Participants also completed a measure of autistic traits.

Strikingly, across all five datasets, the team found that transgender and gender-diverse adult individuals were between three and six times more likely to indicate that they were diagnosed as autistic compared to cisgender individuals. While the study used data from adults who indicated that they had received an autism diagnosis, it is likely that many individuals on the autistic spectrum may be undiagnosed.

Transgender and gender-diverse individuals were also more likely to indicate that they had received diagnoses of mental health conditions, particularly depression, which they were more than twice as likely as their cisgender counterparts to have experienced.

In the UK, around 1.1% of the population is estimated to be on the autistic spectrum, and this result would suggest that somewhere between 3.5% to 6.5% of transgender and gender-diverse adults is on the autistic spectrum.

Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, a collaborator on the study at the University of Toronto, said: “We are beginning to learn more about how the presentation of autism differs in cisgender men and women. Understanding how autism manifests in transgender and gender-diverse people will enrich our knowledge about autism in relation to gender and sex. This enables clinicians to better recognize autism and provide personalised support and health care.”

Transgender and gender-diverse individuals were also more likely to indicate that they had received diagnoses of mental health conditions, particularly depression, which they were more than twice as likely as their cisgender counterparts to have experienced. Transgender and gender-diverse individuals also, on average, scored higher on measures of autistic traits compared to cisgender individuals, regardless of whether they had an autism diagnosis.

Dr Varun Warrier, who led the study, said: “This finding, using large datasets, confirms that the co-occurrence between being autistic and being transgender and gender-diverse is robust. We now need to understand the significance of this co-occurrence, and identify and address the factors that contribute to well-being of this group of people.”

The study investigates the co-occurrence between gender identity and autism. The team did not investigate if one causes the other.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge, and a member of the team, said: “Both autistic individuals and transgender and gender-diverse individuals are marginalized and experience multiple vulnerabilities. It is important that we safe-guard the rights of these individuals to be themselves, receive the requisite support, and enjoy equality and celebration of their differences, free of societal stigma or discrimination.”

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Health & Wellness

Supportive communities and progressive politics can reduce suicide risk among LGBTQ girls

New research shows that supportive communities – and a progressive political climate – can help mitigate the effects of stigma on mental health.

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Many LGBTQ youth continue to experience stigma and discrimination despite progress made in protecting human rights. Now new research from Canada’s UBC’s school of nursing shows that supportive communities – and a progressive political climate – can help mitigate the effects of stigma on mental health.

The researchers combined data from the BC Adolescent Health Survey with an inventory of different LGBTQ events and youth supportive service in communities across B.C. They found that the greater the LGBTQ youth supports in a community, the less likely sexual minority youth, particularly lesbian and bisexual girls, were to have suicidal thoughts or attempts, or to self-harm, compared to their counterparts in communities with fewer supportive events, groups and services. The team also found that lesbian and bisexual girls in communities where more people voted BC NDP in the 2013 provincial general election were less likely to report suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

Where lesbian, gay and bisexual youth live – their community environment, and the kind of LGBTQ-inclusive supports that are or aren’t there – appears to play a role in their odds of suicidality and self-harm.

In their inventory, the researchers counted LGBTQ-youth drop-ins and LGBTQ-youth friendly health services, as well as positive events like Pride parades, anti-bullying days, and meetings for parents, families and friends of LGBTQ people. Community resources that show support for LGBTQ people more generally, such as rainbow crosswalks, supportive faith communities, and queer-friendly coffee houses, also made the list.

“The impact of stigma and discrimination continues to put the health of LGBTQ youth at risk, but this risk isn’t equal everywhere,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Saewyc, a UBC nursing professor and director of Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre (SARAVYC). “Our research found that where lesbian, gay and bisexual youth live – their community environment, and the kind of LGBTQ-inclusive supports that are or aren’t there – appears to play a role in their odds of suicidality and self-harm.”

Saewyc says research shows that safe and inclusive schools, particularly those with gender and sexuality alliances, or GSAs, contribute to LGBTQ youth well-being, but this is among the first studies in Canada to look at the importance of the wider community at the same time.

“Even after accounting for school environments, our study found community supports and progressive political climates contribute to lesbian and bisexual girls’ health. It’s an important point for health care professionals and policymakers to consider – that LGBTQ visibility and support throughout communities can make a difference. We also need to recognize that the work is not yet done–we still have a long way to go to protect the health and well-being of all LGBTQ youth,” said Saewyc.

The research was published in Preventive Medicine.

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Health & Wellness

Hedonism can lead to happiness

Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure. That’s because new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

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Relaxing on the sofa or savoring a delicious meal: Enjoying short-term pleasurable activities that don’t lead to long-term goals contributes at least as much to a happy life as self-control, according to new research from the University of Zurich and Radboud University in the Netherlands. The researchers therefore argue for a greater appreciation of hedonism in psychology.

We all set ourselves long-term goals from time to time, such as finally getting into shape, eating less sugar or learning a foreign language. Research has devoted much time to finding out how we can reach these goals more effectively. The prevailing view is that self-control helps us prioritize long-term goals over momentary pleasure and that if you are good at self-control, this will usually result in a happier and more successful life.

“It’s time for a rethink,” says Katharina Bernecker, researcher in motivational psychology at the University of Zurich. “Of course self-control is important, but research on self-regulation should pay just as much attention to hedonism, or short-term pleasure.”

That’s because Bernecker’s new research shows that people’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

Distraction disrupts pleasure

Bernecker and her colleague Daniela Becker of Radboud University developed a questionnaire to measure respondents’ capacity for hedonism, i.e. their ability to focus on their immediate needs and indulge in and enjoy short-term pleasures. They used the questionnaire to find out whether people differ in their capacity to pursue hedonic goals in a variety of contexts, and whether this ability is related to well-being.

They found that certain people get distracted by intrusive thoughts in moments of relaxation or enjoyment by thinking about activities or tasks that they should be doing instead. “For example, when lying on the couch you might keep thinking of the sport you are not doing,” says Becker. “Those thoughts about conflicting long-term goals undermine the immediate need to relax.” On the other hand, people who can fully enjoy themselves in those situations tend to have a higher sense of well-being in general, not only in the short term, and are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, among other things.

More isn’t always better

“The pursuit of hedonic and long-term goals needn’t be in conflict with one another,” says Bernecker. “Our research shows that both are important and can complement each other in achieving well-being and good health. It is important to find the right balance in everyday life.”

People’s capacity to experience pleasure or enjoyment contributes at least as much to a happy and satisfied life as successful self-control.

Unfortunately, simply sitting about more on the sofa, eating more good food and going to the pub with friends more often won’t automatically make for more happiness. “It was always thought that hedonism, as opposed to self-control, was the easier option,” says Bernecker. “But really enjoying one’s hedonic choice isn’t actually that simple for everybody because of those distracting thoughts.”

Conscious planning of downtime

This is currently a topical issue with more people working from home, as the environment where they normally rest is suddenly associated with work. “Thinking of the work you still need to do can lead to more distracting thoughts at home, making you less able to rest,” says Bernecker.

So what can you do to enjoy your downtime more? More research is needed, but the researchers suspect that consciously planning and setting limits to periods of enjoyment could help to separate them more clearly from other activities, allowing pleasure to take place more undisturbed.

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Health & Wellness

Laughter acts as a stress buffer – and even smiling helps

People who laugh frequently in their everyday lives may be better equipped to deal with stressful events – although this does not seem to apply to the intensity of laughter.

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People who laugh frequently in their everyday lives may be better equipped to deal with stressful events – although this does not seem to apply to the intensity of laughter. These are the findings reported by a research team from the University of Basel in the journal PLOS ONE.

It is estimated that people typically laugh 18 times a day – generally during interactions with other people and depending on the degree of pleasure they experience. Researchers have also reported differences related to time of day, age, and gender – for example, it is known that women smile more than men on average.

Now, researchers from the Division of Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology of the Department of Psychology at the University of Basel have recently conducted a study on the relationship between stressful events and laughter in terms of perceived stress in everyday life.

Questions asked by app

In the intensive longitudinal study, an acoustic signal from a mobile phone app prompted participants to answer questions eight times a day at irregular intervals for a period of 14 days. The questions related to the frequency and intensity of laughter and the reason for laughing – as well as any stressful events or stress symptoms experienced – in the time since the last signal.

Using this method, the researchers working with the lead authors, Dr. Thea Zander-Schellenberg and Dr. Isabella Collins, were able to study the relationships between laughter, stressful events, and physical and psychological symptoms of stress (“I had a headache” or “I felt restless”) as part of everyday life. The published analysis was based on data from 41 psychology students, 33 of whom were women, with an average age of just under 22.

Intensity of laughter has less influence

The first result of the observational study was expected based on the specialist literature: in phases in which the subjects laughed frequently, stressful events were associated with more minor symptoms of subjective stress. However, the second finding was unexpected.

When it came to the interplay between stressful events and intensity of laughter (strong, medium or weak), there was no statistical correlation with stress symptoms. “This could be because people are better at estimating the frequency of their laughter, rather than its intensity, over the last few hours,” says the research team.

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Health & Wellness

Experiences of loneliness may differ by age

Some factors were found to be associated with loneliness across all age groups. These included living alone, frequency of neighbour contact, psychological distress, and psychological and emotional wellbeing. The strongest association with loneliness was found for those who felt excluded from society.

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Loneliness in adult life is experienced differently depending on age, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. The research concludes that there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to reducing loneliness, as factors associated with it, such as contact with friends and family, perceived health or employment, may differ across the phases of the adult life span.

Thanée Franssen, the corresponding author, said: “The majority of studies focusing on loneliness have thus far been performed among specific age groups, such as the elderly or teenagers, or individuals with specific health conditions. To our knowledge, none of these studied the factors associated with loneliness among adults and how these change as people age.”

A team of researchers at Maastricht University and in the Public Health Service South-Limburg in the Netherlands used data collected in the Netherlands from September to December 2016 to examine associations between demographic, social and health-related factors and loneliness in 6,143 young (19-34 years), 8,418 early middle-aged (35-49 years) and 11,758 late middle-aged adults (50-65 years).

Overall, 10,309 (44.3%) individuals reported experiencing loneliness. Among young adults, 2,042 (39.7%) individuals reported feelings of loneliness, compared to 3,108 (43.3%) early-middle aged adults, and 5,159 late middle-aged adults (48.2%).

Some factors were found to be associated with loneliness across all age groups. These included living alone, frequency of neighbour contact, psychological distress, and psychological and emotional wellbeing. The strongest association with loneliness was found for those who felt excluded from society.

Some factors associated with loneliness were found to be present in specific age groups only. Young adults showed the strongest association between contact frequency with friends and loneliness. Educational level was associated with loneliness among young adults only, while an association between employment status and loneliness was found solely among early middle-aged adults. Frequency of family contact was associated with loneliness only among early and late middle-aged adults. For late middle-aged adults only, perceived health was associated with loneliness.

The authors suggest that people may feel lonely if what is the norm for their age group, such as completing school, being employed, having a partner or having children, deviates from their actual situation. As different factors are perceived to be the norm for different age groups, this may explain some of the difference in factors associated with loneliness between age groups.

Thanée Franssen said: “The identification of the factors associated with loneliness is necessary to be able to develop and target appropriate interventions. Unfortunately, most of the current interventions seem to be limited in their effect. A possible reason for this may be that most interventions for adults are universal. Results of this study showed that interventions should be developed for specific age groups.”

The authors caution that some factors that may affect people’s perception of loneliness, such as relationship quality, were not included in the current study, as they were not part of the original data collection. Due to the cross-sectional nature of the study, it was not possible to establish cause and effect.

Thanée Franssen said: “Our results also suggest that during the current COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of loneliness among adults may be impacted in different ways according to the important factors of their life phase. For example, young adults are not able to interact with their friends or classmates face to face anymore. This may need to be taken into account when considering the impact on loneliness of the current pandemic.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Research from Lenovo & Intel finds that tech could be great equalizer among different cultures

More than half of global respondents say that a company’s diversity and inclusion policies are “extremely” or “very” important when deciding where to apply and whether to accept an offer.

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The first chapter of a new global research report by Lenovo and Intel finds that technology will play an integral role in achieving diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace of the future.  With the power to bridge accessibility gaps, connect people who are otherwise divided, and expand the impact of upskilling and progressive training programs, tech already facilitates the ability to work in more dynamic, flexible ways than ever before.

The joint global study explores how people around the world view D&I in their personal and professional lives, and their perspective on the role technology plays to address systematic inequities, create more access, and enable growth.

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish,” says Lenovo’s Yolanda Lee Conyers, Chief Diversity Officer and President of the Lenovo Foundation. “As the makers of devices that enable connectivity across cultural and geographic boundaries, tech companies like Lenovo have an obligation to ensure that products are created with diverse consumers in mind, and that can only be achieved with a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“Intel has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that transparency is key, and our goal is to see our representation mirror the markets and customers we serve. Just as we apply our engineering mindset to create the world’s leading technological innovations, we do the same with our D&I strategies, using data to inform our decisions and sharing it transparently to drive clear accountability and deliver results across the industry,” says Barbara Whye, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and VP of Social Impact and Human Resources at Intel. “We know that to truly progress D&I, it takes companies working together and being a global company, this work can’t be limited to the US only. That’s why with both companies sharing a rich history of collaboration, we decided to extend our partnership and conduct a global survey.”

“We know that when organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion, financial performance, innovation, and talent acquisition and retention flourish.”

The findings within the technology chapter suggest that, if a more diverse and inclusive workplace is the goal, technology has the potential to get us there, as it facilitates human connection, understanding, and ultimately, empathy.

The study shows the potential of technology does not come without apprehension, though. Many respondents indicated they worry about whether technology, including AI, could potentially silence or leave behind those historically marginalized or underrepresented. Although participants expressed concerns over the harmful potential of AI, those in emerging markets are most optimistic, with more than 8-in-10 participants across Brazil and China agreeing that AI can be used to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive.

Lenovo and Intel’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Global Workplace study explores the attitudes of approximately 5,096 respondents across five key geographic markets of China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Brazil between December 19, 2019 and January 7, 2020. This chapter focusing on the theme of technology is the first of four total installments. Additional chapters regarding “What Workers Want”, “Modern Mentorship”, and “D&I as a Workplace Trailblazer” are to be announced throughout the remainder of the year.

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