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7 Tips for Thriving in a Bad Economy


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These are 7 tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs to not only survive -- but thrive -- in a bad economy. I prepared these tips for a public advice round table discussions I led at the New York Times Small Business Summit, November 17, 2008, in the American Express OPEN Advice Cafe. American Express OPEN's marketing team did a beautiful job formatting them and printing up the booklet with the tips. The booklet was handed out to each attendee at the event. The printed booklet measures 5 inches by 5 inches.

Published in: Business, News & Politics

7 Tips for Thriving in a Bad Economy

  1. 1. 7 things you can do to hELP MaKE youR BusinEss MoRE REsiLiEnt, noW.
  2. 2. Meet Anita Campbell. CEO. Consultant. OPENForum® Small Business Expert. Inside this guide, Anita offers seven practical and timely tips for managing your business in challenging economic times.
  3. 3. anita caMPBELL is CEO of Small Business Trends (, an online community touching more than 250,000 small business owners each month. It is an award-winning site, twice named to the Forbes Best of the Web (2005 and 2008). The site has also received recognition from the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC television. Anita also hosts a weekly Internet radio podcast show, and has interviewed more than 200 small business owners, entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the small business market ( You can read more from Anita at
  4. 4. 1 LooK to “LoW-hanging fRuit” tEchnoLogy to BEcoME MoRE EfficiEnt. Many of us may not be using technology to its fullest potential. Explore ways to use your tech investment to help drive down other costs and accommodate more sales without having to hire more staff. Look at free or nearly free technology from the Web, such as Google Apps for business, Amazon Web Services and other options.
  5. 5. 2 RE-ExaMinE EvERy onE of youR oPERationaL sERvicEs. Sometimes we use business services for years without realizing there may be substantially cheaper—and better—options on the market. Look at your telecommunications, your computer network, your printers and fax machines. For instance, you might want to evaluate services like Skype, VoIP or wireless phones with calling circles to save on telecommunications costs.
  6. 6. 3 cut Existing staff onLy as a Last REsoRt. Most small businesses don’t have much staff to begin with. So cutting staff often means cutting your business off at the knees. And every forced cut may have a demoralizing effect on the remaining staff. I’d rather ask people to take temporary, across-the-board pay cuts, or eliminate some benefits, than lay off people…unless pushed to the wall.
  7. 7. 4 don’t cut MaRKEting. When customer spending slows down, make sure it’s your competitors’ sales that slow, not yours. Be more aggressive and creative at marketing than your peers. It’s an opportunity to gain customers and help grow your business when the economy turns around.
  8. 8. 5 focus on gEtting MoRE saLEs fRoM Existing custoMERs RathER than nEW custoMERs. It can be less costly and less resource-intensive to sell additional products or upgrades to existing customers than to bring on new customers. If you have to make a choice, focus on cross- selling/upselling existing customers versus new customer acquisition.
  9. 9. 6 foR staRtuPs, staRt sELLing soMEthing asaP. If you run a startup, don’t wait until your product is perfect. And if your main products are big- ticket items with long sales cycles, come up with some lower-priced items to sell pending the big sales closing. Negative cash flow is the big quot;gotchaquot; for smaller firms—you don’t want to run out of cash before you are out of the gate.
  10. 10. 7 don’t sKiMP on youR BooKKEEPER oR accountant. Cash management, and management of accounts receivables, can make or break you during tough times. Now is the time to have a better grasp on your business numbers than you’ve ever had before. Weekly—even daily—attention to your numbers will give you early warning of issues and buy you more time to adjust.
  11. 11. find uP-to-thE-MinutE insights and advicE fRoM anita and othER sMaLL BusinEss ExPERts at oPEnfoRuM.coM.
  12. 12. MEEt anita caMPBELL, sMaLL BusinEss ExPERt, at thE nEW yoRK tiMEs sMaLL BusinEss suMMit in thE aMERican ExPREss oPEn advicE cEntER. sM ©2008 American Express Company. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions apply.