Insight Community: How Is Your Small Business Holding Up During The Financial Crisis?

In case you missed our earlier story, we're now including some of the more interesting Insight Community cases on Techdirt. To take part and earn money, you just need to be a registered member of the community.

As you probably know from our earlier case, American Express is sponsoring a conversation here in the Insight Community concerning how small businesses are dealing with the financial crisis. Already, a bunch of the insights generated by that first discussion have made their way to American Express' OPEN Forum blog. Some great examples of the type of content include Zack Miller's post on Black Swan Contingency Planning and Dennis Howlett's Quick Tips for Small Businesses. If you decide to participate in this case, we suggest those two posts are great examples of the level of quality to strive for.

This time, we're looking for a little reflection. Now that we're well into the financial crisis, and some of the initial concerns have been somewhat alleviated (at least temporarily), how is your small business managing? It looks like the worst fears of the financial crisis (complete economic meltdown) have been avoided, but there's still plenty to be concerned about. Now that we're past that first stage, though, what more concrete steps are you taking or would you advise other businesses to take to manage to survive the current economy? Are these steps different than what you had originally expected?

To enter, please submit a post around these concepts. Please try to avoid just listing out the questions here and answering each one separately. The description is just a conversation starter, from which we hope you'll craft an interesting, insightful, compelling, and relevant blog post that will be helpful to small business owners, such as yourself. The goal here is to go beyond what everyone else is talking about, and dig a little deeper.

This case uses the "claiming" system. You can claim a slot and reserve that spot for yourself, guaranteeing payment if the response actually does meet the guidelines laid out in the case description. Any insight that is selected to then be placed on the American Express OpenForum blog, also will be designated a "top insight" and the authors will be granted the additional bonus on top of the guaranteed claim amount. Please be aware that claiming a spot but failing to submit an insight will lead to a poor rating and an inability to participate in future cases.

8 Insights


My wife's small business is based on accounting and tax prep services, and entering its third year. Every year has been touch and go, so perhaps thats an advantage with the current economic environment that could be an overlooked factor by many small businesses.

1) We operate on a tight budget, stretching the earnings from the previous year's tax rush... always holding back a chunk for Tech Upgrades during the Christmas sales season. This year we're expecting our "nest egg" to go farther than ever. Operating on a budget and holding a reserve has always been a gem of financial wisdom, so nothing new there.

2) With some less stable businesses going under we've found a fantastic upgrade to our location, just in time to make the move before the next rush. Staying fiscally sound and looking for opportunities to grow in this environment can open up a hidden growth potential.

3) A bit of psychology can help as well. Right now we could be poised on the brink of certain economic doom, but theres little proof of that. So the glass could just as easily be half empty, and if we are confident that our "T's" are crossed and "I's" dotted, then we should also behave confidently in our daily business practices, and let the forecasters rail on about doom and gloom... while we maintain the daily chores to build sound businesses upon solid business practices.

For ultimately they are forecasters, and we are business owners. We will tell the tale, our actions will decide the outcome. If we call the game before the rain, we may just squander a perfectly good game, for what might have been. Or we could be ready to play ball when the time has come, and play the game of our lives.

Devin Moore
Wed Nov 12 5:31am
I agree that you can't afford to run a sloppy operation these days; those businesses that aren't careful will be the first to go, while the careful ones may emerge on top as the recession ends.
Dewy Bradford
Wed Dec 10 4:19pm
I would like to amend "glass half empty" to "glass half full".

*wanders off looking for a suggestion box to suggest an edit function*

I've recently written two posts on my blog, QuotaCrush, on start-ups and the new reality.  QuotaCrush focuses on sales strategies for start-ups.  In the first post:  Web 2.0 is dead...Long Live Revenue 2.0, I frame that the key to start-up survival is putting the focus back on revenue.  Sales are the key to this: 

I think the collapse of the market will bring the focus back to where it should be… revenue.  And that is good news for salespeople.  Why?  Because companies have drifted away from being sales driven, sales focused, and revenue machines, into ones that focus on building features that generate and create buzz.  Sales and revenue are going to come front and center once again, and the customers and prospects that pay will once again drive product design and direction - not exclusively the product managers and marketing team.  What was sexy last year was how much traffic you could generate, where your product was discussed, and how futuristic your idea was.  What will be sexy in 2009 is how you’ve turned that into cash.  And who is going to make that a reality?  The sales team!

Those of us that know how to jump start sales in a start-up, and drive big dollar transactions, are the key to the small businesses that want to survive.  This is in no way a slam to the FREE model as promoted by Chris Anderson.  After all, I work for a company right now that promotes a free product.  However, we’ve had a plan since day one on how to generate revenue from our free product, and it is already starting to be realized and we are on our way to profitability - almost guaranteed to be realized in 2009.  So its not a question of where your revenue comes from - but making sure that there is revenue - and that the revenue goal is realistic to support your business.

If you are to become a truly revenue driven company, it sometimes means building features and services that your customers want that perhaps are not the most sexy or most fun to build, but they are features that can be sold.  When I founded and ran Dynamic Mobile Data, my main product was a desktop application as it was developed before web sites existed (man I’m old…).  As the web evolved, my product team kept insisting that we needed to move our entire product to the web.  I resisted.  Why?  Because when I looked at my customer base and my prospects, I realized that my software was mostly installed on machines that ONLY ran my software.  It was what they used all day long and having this computer running a browser and my software offered them nothing additional.  My customers were willing to pay for other technologies including dynamic mapping, alerts, driving directions for delivery personnel, etc.  So, my resources went there.   It was a few years before I had fully integrated the web into my product - and even then it was not as sexy as what was out there.  But guess what… all that time we made a lot of sales and a lot of revenue!

In my second post, I talk about how to do this.  Companies need to focus on designing and motivating sales teams correctly:

As the credit crisis holds, many start-ups are going to start looking to make sure that they hold onto cash as long as they can.

That may include the decision to eliminate and/or outsource a portion of your sales staff.  And, this can often be a very wise business decision.  As start-ups and other companies decide to eliminate sales staff, the challenge becomes on how do you continue (and accelerate) your trajectory in sales with less sales staff and potentially less resources (minimized travel budget, etc).

The key, as I’ve blogged on before is designing the right compensation package.  You can get amazing things from salespeople, if you give them a path to make a lot of money and it is OK to expect BIG things from them to get that money.  The compensation package should be reasonable and achievable, but should also be challenging.

It is certainly time now for ALL companies and especially start-ups to re-evaluate the staffing levels, the compensation packages, and start expecting more from their sales team - and rewarding them appropriately for achieving large goals.  The best compensation plans have lots of milestones along the way that reward performance, and also have a sense of competition in them.  And… this is critical… they must NOT be unrealistic.  If no-one is making any money on the sales team, then you actually will see sales decrease.

A compensation plan should never be designed in a way that ensures the company does not pay anything out.  It should be designed to motivate and drive sales.  And you should make sure that when you design your plan, you are not designing it in such a way that you are focused on how not to pay out commissions - but that you are focused on how to motivate people to sell what you want.  And when those salespeople do so, rejoice.

I’ve started to work with several start-ups on their sales strategy and on designing compensation packages for the 2009 reality, so I know it is not easy to design one that motivates people correctly - especially if you haven’t created one before.  However, I think that there are also a lot of opportunities for getting a lot of performance out of hard-working sales staff when it is done correctly.

The bottom line for all start-ups is that this next year its all about generating your own cash.  Funding will not be non-existent, but it will be very hard to find especially without a properly designed plan to revenue.  In the start-up clients that QuotaCrush works with, we focus on making sure that sales teams have the right message, pitch, and motivation to ensure the best chance of success.

My art-related small business, as well as many others in my area, have been absolutely halted as a result of the economic slowdown.  As it turns out, one of the first things people don't buy when they have less money is custom artwork. However, this doesn't mean that I and my fellow artists are completely screwed. I would not have anticipated that the solution would involve a change of business, but that is the reality many small businesses may face.  The good news is that there are many localized markets where due to a reduction in the supply of some services by big names, the demand for related small business services remains strong.

The most important thing I saw when talking with my fellow small business operators was their success in branching into new areas.  Many of them never would have realized that there was a market for their skills elsewhere, and while these markets may have grown or shrank as a result of the economic slowdown, they are still strong relative to the incredibly weak custom artwork market. 

The ability of a small business to react quickly and fill a localized need is perhaps their greatest strength.  In my case, I was able to find that while my customers had a reduced need for custom artwork, their need for computer help was increasing.  As a result of the economic slowdown, many big-box stores local to me are also discontinuing their in-house computer services.  Therefore, I am able to pick up a few customers from them as well, and I can consider branching into computer repair-type services as a gap filler until my primary interest market recovers.  If that business proves profitable enough, I may even spin it off into a separate company. 

These are options that small businesses must consider and react to immediately if they are noticing the dramatic slowdowns in business that I encountered over the last few months.

The Grind

Small businesses are tough livings. There is no reliable paycheck, no one pays your benefits, and the buck always stops in your shoes. Not only are the rewards very uncertain, the work is challenging, and a few people must fill all the same functions as large businesses: planning, sales, product, finance/accounting, collections, management, IT, painting. Given the challenges, it's amazing that anybody runs a small business versus just taking a job at a big employer. But for some of us, it's an irresistible drive, and provides joy and satisfaction despite the hardships.

Step 1: Conserve Cash

The toughest times are, of course, when the economy is pinched, and spending goes down. Firms with thin margins, small cash reserves, and a limited ability to borrow or float bonds find themselves with cash flow problems, and are often unable to pay suppliers, staff, themselves, and their bills. SMBs often fall into this trap. Smart financial planning can mitigate this, and help the wise avoid losing their shingle during the downturns. This includes having cash savings on hand, reducing spending early in a downturn, renegotiating rents, etc.

Of course, your business problems are, ironically, caused precisely because others are conserving cash, too - instead of buying your goods! Isn't irony delicious? No, it's not? Then read on on how to avoid both this annoying type of humor, and the failure of your business.

Swim Upstream

What if you could structure your business to actually get easier during an economic downturn? If you don't know what I mean, there are some really obvious examples of counter-cycle businesses that can make it obvious:

  • Bankruptcy liquidators
  • Bankruptcy law offices
  • M&A
  • Job skills trainers, career counselors

The above businesses clearly benefit from tough times, are 100% counter-cycle, and although often maligned, I credit them for the useful roles they fill when needed. But these businesses suffer because they are 100% counter to a good business cycle. When the economy is doing well (most of the time) these businesses run lean. You don't need to be a profiteer, and you don't need to fail during the good times to be counter-cycle. The goal should be a lot like good asset management: put just a little 'counter-cycle' in your business portfolio. Can you add some product or service to your business which would do better during an economic downturn?

Some examples could be:

  • Be an eBay consignment seller, or a retail consignment seller? Unemployed people need cash, and may be selling some stuff from their attic. Shoppers looking for deals to save money may be more willing to buy used. Your retail storefront could help other people get cash for their goods, and you a commission.
  • Many bookkeepers and accountants operate in small businesses. Why not add a "Closure avoidance" consulting service that helps SMB clients manage cash flow better and stay afloat. Train yourself on bankruptcy, avoidance, etc.
  • If you're a writer or a web designer, you could help out of work people create great cover letters, resumes, or personal marketing websites. Other web-savvy people could offer services of managing the various online job-search tools for less technical people.

To be clear, the suggestion is not to launch into the above businesses, but to add business lines to your existing business, which can add new revenue streams. These revenue streams (R) are complementary to your other R, such that when your original R is down, these R will be up. It's called hedging, and it's the best way to manage risk. The odds that the scant three bullets above actually nailed anything that your business can do are slim, but the point was to illustrate the notion of adding an R that hedges against tough times. You'll have to figure out what works for you.

My Solutions

By luck or planning, my two small businesses have counter-cycle elements, and so far there is no sign of the economic hard times. One business is a telecommunications consulting firm, and the other is a regional industry organization. The consulting firm survives because we help firms make deals, which they want more than ever. We also do projects around product development and marketing, and in a downturn, it is often cheaper to lay-off staff, and hire a consulting firm to fill in for indispensable projects. We definitely have counter-cycle elements in our business, and the only thing I have noticed is that I have more clients, who negotiate harder to pay less. We can live with that. We launched this consulting business in 2001, into the headwind of a global telecommunications industry downturn, and we've been growing ever since. Today, more established, we have a reputation and a pipeline that seems steady in good times and bad. If the economy goes from bad to terrible, then we'll feel it.

The regional association is less established, but so far is still growing. Our mission is to help businesses in Silicon Valley accelerate their businesses by facilitating networking, collaboration, and connections. So long as we deliver on that mission, our association actually lowers their costs and accelerates their business cycles. Thus, we won't be the first costs that are cut. Any small business that delivers cost savings or operational efficiencies is definitely counter-cycle, and if you can articulate those benefits to your customers, you should survive the downturn.

By the way, good as this may sound for me, I'm no Midas. These are both small businesses and I don't earn a killing in good times or bad. I earn nothing more than a respectable living - but I think I've managed to hedge against the bad times, and have taken a lot of the sleepless nights and worry out of the equation. Good luck to you in these tough times, and I hope to see you on the other side!

The businesses are already taking casualties from the current financial crisis.  Companies are freezing hiring, laying off employees, and cutting costs.  Though a complete collapse of the financial system has been avoided, many small businesses are still feeling the pressure from the current economic crisis.  It has become clear that a quick recovery is not on the books.  Customers are more nervous about their own income and spending.  As this circle continues, it will continue to pressure small businesses to make the most of their resources and make some tough choices if they're going to survive the current crisis.

Credit is more scarce for businesses and consumers, so owners are going to need to make better decisions about the use of their limited credit, while maximizing cash flow.  It is also a time to develop new products and plan for business after the credit crisis.

  • Personnel: While no business wants to eliminate positions or lay off staff, it may be an area which need to be considered for the solvency of the business.  Can some jobs be contracted out rather than done in house? This can allow small businesses to use employees more effectively on other projects or reduce workforce. 
  • Marketing: Focus on most cost effective marketing and advertizing. Keep your website up to date, while limiting give aways and promotional items or focusing on lower cost items.
  • Overhead: Reduce day to day operating costs.  Can you close the office for a day without sacrificing customer service? This can be a cost savings in heating and lighting, and posibly personnel. 
  • Telecommuting and alternative scheduling:  Reduce mileage for employees through telecommuting. Alternative schedules can allow a business to meet it's needs in fewer days per week, while reducing the operating costs.
  • Maximize electronic communication: Electronic communication can give you the most for your money.  Make the most of e-mail with staff and clients.  Use VOIP or video chat to communicate with field staff. Keep your website up to date.  It can be one of your most powerful communication tools. 
  • Updating software: Consider subscription based, open source or cloud options for software.  The will allow you to spread the cost of software rather than a large initial outlay or take advantage of the variety of free options available on the web.
  • Attend to customers:  Keep the customers you currently have. Maximize repeat business through promotions or events.  Us electronic communications when possible to minimize costs. 
  • Evaluate your products: Use staff down time to evaluate your current products, develop new packages for your customers rather than discounting existing packages.   These products can either span the gap between your existing products or offer a more trim, low cost alternative for your customers.  Also use this time to develop new products and plan for recovery and post crisis products. 

Businesses need to plan for an extended period of cost cutting, and plan for the current pinch as well as the future.  Maximize cost effective strategies for marketing and communication and offer products which meet customer needs now and after this crisis. The small business that can control costs while maintaining their cash flow will have a greater chance of seeing the other side of this financial crisis.

"They" say "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade."  The same philosophy should be applied creatively by small business owners to take advantage of the financial conditions and possible slow down in their businesses.  Any event that generates extra time for a small business owner is a gift that should allow time to reflect on the business and future growth plans, personal growth plans and how to take the business to the next level.

There are a myriad of ways to enhance a business when one finally has the time to give the project full attention.  For example, a slow down in business opens up time for the owners to modernize marketing materials and technology, to cross train their employees for greater flexibility, or to shore up their own capital either by accepting an open line of credit or accepting the many offers of new business credit cards that arrive daily for businesses based on sound financial footings. 

This insight discusses these opportunities and proposes additional ideas that can be implemented now with the result of dividends paying off when the economy recovers.  Each of the ideas is based on the assumption that the financial crises/recession has slowed business and allows the business owner to reflect on and follow-up on major business ideas that always seem to get pushed to the end of the line when business is operating at normal capacity.  These ideas are not unique to any one industry although in the interest of full disclosure/transparency, I run a solo law practice and previously owned a small law firm that navigated successfully through the last economic slow down/market crash.

    1. Protect your business in a down market. (A) When clients are slow to pay, accounts receivable can get out of hand. If this condition is allowed to persist, the small business owner ends up providing free financing for the client, who may not have the finances to pay all its bills. This is the time to collect on all invoices that have remained unpaid for 30 days or more. The collection methods can vary from an informal holiday greeting and reminder to pay or to a formal letter stating that services will be discontinued if the invoice is left unpaid. (B) This is the time to jettison your bottom 10% of your clients/customers. No matter how good you are at evaluating potential new business, inevitably some clients are a disappointment for a variety of reasons, e.g. slow to pay, argue over every bill, complain about the service, are dilatory in responding to your requests for information and other activities that seem to create 90% of the headaches for the business. Whether it is a harsh send-off as described in "A" above due to non-payment of bills, or a friendly send-off because the business can no longer satisfy the client's needs, the down market is the time to clean the weeds from the garden, so that when the sun shines again, the business is working with the clients with upside potential and thriving in that arrangement. (C) Protect your cash. As the business continues to earn revenue, build a cash reserve and make sure it is in a safe, insured investment vehicle to withstand the impact of a long-term recession. Take advantage of business credit card offerings if you can pay the balance every 30 days, so as to free-up your cash in between credit card statements. If your bank offers you a line of credit, with no obligation to use it, accept the line of credit while your business is in strong financial condition. You never know if you will need to fall back on the line of credit to meet payroll or quarterly tax payment obligations or other large expenses.


     2. Enhance your business image in a down market. Many small business owners let their websites stagnate, let their premises become run-down, let their marketing materials become old and faded, and generally fail to keep the business image modern, fresh and high-tech. To reach any audience younger than the baby-boomers, the customer expects to see a fresh, technology-enhanced operation. The down market offers the perfect time to thoughtfully reflect on the business' image and to enhance it in a number of ways. (A) Enhance the look of the business. This is a very inexpensive fix that may mean nothing more than a fresh coat of paint, washing the carpets and dusting everything in sight so it has a new look. (B) Evaluate the business promotional materials and how they are conveyed to the customer. If the sign on the business is old, yellowed, too small, malfunctioning or otherwise in poor condition, replace it. Similarly, if the business uses a website to reach its customers, evaluate whether the site design and business logo need a fresh look too. (C) If the business website has old information on it, revise every page, update the contents and invite customers to come take a look at the "new" site. (D) If the business does not have an Internet presence, establish one with your newly freed-up time. Consider starting a blog, or communicating on Twitter, to expand your network and provide fresh, timely advice and commentary to a larger community than what you previously reached with traditional marketing devices like an ad in the paper or the yellow pages.

      3. Renew and Enhance Relationships With Your Favored Customers and Referral Sources. With the holidays just around the corner, this is the perfect time of year to call your customers and referral sources to learn how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to help. A business should embrace its customers and let them know that you are available to assist them through troubled times, if appropriate. This overture of assistance combined with a holiday greeting will stand out with your customers since this type of effort is rarely done by any business. Personal contact with customers via telephone or in person seems to be the exception rather than the rule in client relationship building in recent years. Instead, clients have become depersonalized as businesses increasingly transmit advice only via the Internet, or in emails, or voicemails left at a time when the client is unlikely to be near the telephone.

     4. Renew Your Own Energy and That of Your Employees. People seem to continually strive for a work-life balance that never is quite balanced enough. A down market is the time to encourage employees to take their vacations and get reacquainted with their families. The same advice applies to the business owners. This is the time to go home and have dinner with the family, rather than sitting in an empty office waiting for business to come in the door. Use this time to train employees in other job functions or the use of new technology so that the business employees are ahead of the competition in terms of value to the customer and to the business, thereby providing a marketing and operational edge to the business. When business picks-up, as it inevitably will do, the owner will have a fresh, knowledgeable team that is ready to respond to the customer demands if they have used the down market as a time to relax, reflect and renew personally.

      5. Enlarge Your Business. Many commentators have pointed out that among the smart aspects of President-Elect Obama's campaign, was his clear message directed to an entirely new demographic of voters. Obama enlarged his voting base by reaching out to various sectors of the population who previously did not vote for a variety of reasons. Similarly, in a down market, the small business owner should carefully examine the business customer demographics and identify new customers and new marketing approaches to reach them.

     6. Use the Time To Implement Practices and Procedures That Are On The Books But Have Not Been Followed or Enforced. Virtually every business, in one form or another, has a document retention plan, a crises/disaster plan, and a computer backup plan. If your business does not have one of these, now is the time to create it. However, for those businesses that put a plan on paper and never enforced it, the down time created by the economy offers the perfect opportunity to test the plans, enforce the plans, hold document clean-up days, update the offsite backups, test the current backups and generally assure the owners that the contingency planning is in place and working as designed.

* * * * 

My business has not seen a slow-down in this economy because of the niche market in which I operate:  I troubleshoot litigation for companies to achieve a successful outcome.  There is no shortage of litigation in slow economic times.  However, I do take advantage of the climate of fear and paralysis that seems to overcome many business owners.  I use the foregoing ideas to enhance the business so it is ready to launch new ideas when the economy recovers.  I benefit from the time for reflection, and for the time to renew my own life-work balance.  My clients appreciate hearing from me with an offer to help, rather than a hard pitch for more business.  Notwithstanding the insulation that litigation seems to have from slow economic times, I still take advantage of cash flow opportunities and cash reserve building so that I am ready to launch new projects as soon as the economy recovers and there are new customer demographics to pursue.  Keeping a level head and not getting caught up in wild market swings and scary headlines should enable the business owner to turn the slow down into an opportunity. 

Lori Iwan




I was surprised that our cash flow has so far remained largely unaffected by the credit crunch and ongoing financial crisis. Soon I'd actually replaced concern with ambition, deciding it's really true — crisis is an opportunity. Here's six resolutions we made to survive, and to thrive.

* It's a buyer's market It's a surprising new development, but stock pickers know there's bargains when the market drops 30% — and the bad economy is also creating bargains in the general marketplace. We've discovered that struggling suppliers are now offering deals, especially to customers who can make long-term commitments. (And yes, I'm putting some of my surplus cash into long-term investments.)

* Re-negotiate There's also never been a better time to line up a long-term contracts at reduced rates.

* Keep costs low. Anticipating a financial slowdown, I moved into a smaller workspace, switched to cheaper phone plans, eliminated redundant services, and engaged in a massive review of operational costs. In tough times there's a smaller margin of error, and reducing costs obviously affects the bottom line just as much as income.

*Form new alliances It seems like now everyone is more willing to at least consider a partnership or merger. A dire economy provokes real concern, and there may never be another moment where potential partners are this open.

* Online globalism I've heard stories about "online outsourcing," with online workers offering routine services at prices lower than anything we've seen before. Networking globally — and collaborating — is one genuinely new idea for reducing costs. (Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" service is just one example.)

* Diversify Some businesses are thriving in today's financial environment — and some aren't. But you don't have to know which is which if you can diversify your customers, yours clients — basically, your sources of income.


Arthur C. Clarke once said the best advice for humanity came from a Douglas Adams book: "Don't panic." Objectively things are not as bad as they seemed in September, and we'll navigate the problems that remain with some flexibility — and some common sense.

David Cassel
Wed Nov 19 1:05pm
"we navigate" should be "we'll navigate". :)

As an internet and real estate entrepreneur my business prospects are always in flux so the impacts of the current crisis are still unclear as to how they'll affect my businesses in the coming months, let alone years.   My priorities have shifted towards less risk and less reward, hoping to simply maintain some stability until good opportunities present themselves as they always do whether the overall business climate is good or bad.

On the optimistic side I agree with those who see this as a time of potential opportunity for flexible, clever businesses that will rise to the challenges by cost cutting and consolidation and then move into niches that have been occupied by less efficient entities that will not withstand the pressures of the coming recession.

However clearly the only certainty in the current business environment is an unprecedented level of economic uncertainty.  Most businesses reading here are from the USA which continues to be viewed as one of the stablest and "safest" of the economic harbors.   That is an advantage to some extent but I think in many sectors we've begun to see a major shakeout.   Profitable businesses will see far less profit and be forced to cut costs.   Struggling businesses will die in much greater proportion than usual, and unemployment will rise to levels not seen since the great depression.  Unfortunately bad news and forecasts seem to beget more of the same and that is not a virtuous cycle, but it is also important to be realistic.  In my view this is a time to batten down the business hatches, ride through the storm, and then be prepared to act quickly when the sun starts shining again.

Specifically I think the best course of action is to consolidate business efforts as much as possible by looking for redundancies and other unnecessary expenses and laying off slacker employees.  In general spend less while continuing to look for opportunities.

This approach will not help the overall economy which may be best served by a spending stimulous, but that massive spending should begin with massive corporate and government entities and interventions rather than small businesses.

We've been fortunate to live in a time of relatively great prosperity and there are some good reasons to think we can regain some measure of that level of success.   However it is likely to take at least several more lean years before we recover and the forces of globalization suggest to me that we'll have to work harder and smarter than in the past just to keep up.   Best of luck ... to us all.


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