You might think the best time to launch a new product or service is during an economic golden age, when customers are plenty and eager to spend their not-so-hard-earned cash. But in a post at his blog, Seth Godin says it's much easier to challenge your industry's major players in the wobbly environment of a recession—in other words, when their power is less absolute.

To make his point, Godin draws a parallel to pop-music history. "In the 260 weeks from 1966 to 1970," he notes, "there were only 13 musical acts responsible for every #1 album on the Billboard charts. In the 260 weeks that accounted for the first half of the 1970s, it was 26."

During the 1960s, folk upstarts like Harry Chapin stood little chance of challenging commercial juggernauts like The Beatles for Billboard's top spot. But when the British supergroup broke up, it caused one of several disruptions that gave songs like Cat's in the Cradle a fighting chance at reaching number one.

"The real growth and development and the foundations for the next era are laid during the chaotic times," says Godin, "the times that come after the leaders have stumbled."

He therefore urges today's entrepreneurs to go for it right now: "The next golden age of journalism, of communications, of fashion, of car design—those are being established now, in a moment when it's not so crowded at the top."

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