In times of economic uncertainty, businesses tend to reexamine their relationship with customers, vendors, employees and their own internal culture. Those that embrace best practices make the necessary adjustments and take advantage of economic uncertainty - often gaining market share. For those caught in a “panic response fear” cycle, these can be very scary times splashing about without a life preserver. If you’re making bad choices as a result of economic fears, now is the time to evaluate your situation.

Business can turn bleak pretty rapidly, so it’s important that you gain perspective. It’s not the end of the world. Businesses turn things around every day. Effective leaders know there are going to be ups and downs in the business cycle. Unfortunately, some leaders facing an economic downturn all too often get stuck in their own fear and lack of confidence. Obstacles become the focus, when the solution should be the focal point.

Being stuck in a rut is natural, but there has to be a point when enough is enough. If you’ve been doing a lot of talking, it’s time to start the action. Create your contingency plan today. It’s time to get serious. Become active in your vision.

So how do you deal with the economic crisis of 2009?

First and foremost you’ve got to know where you stand. Roll up your sleeves and figure out your bottom line. Be very clear on where your company is from a financial perspective.

Next, to create real change you need new information. Recognize that what you’re doing right now may not work in 2009. Be open to new strategies. Create a brainstorming session with your management team as the opening for your contingency planning process. I believe you can take advantage of the economic uncertainty if you have managed your business effectively. I did “turnarounds” for financially troubled companies for 10 years, so I know it is possible...

Your business survival may hinge on your willingness to accept and adopt new methods. Effective leaders create a solution to economic challenge and they possess the power to make that solution come true. All you need is the willingness to accept and create positive change. Don’t be hung up on economic market fears. Center yourself on what you do well as a company and leverage that advantage.

Remember if you’ve made some bad decisions you’ve got to chalk it up to “you live, you learn.” Dwelling on past mistakes will get you nowhere fast. The only way to turn it into a positive is to learn from it.

To maintain acceptable levels of growth and profitability is a goal that I am sure is shared by virtually 100% of the individuals and companies that read this article.  So, let’s review some principles that can help us maintain our focus and create the kind of success in 2009 that you can be proud of:

1.Go back to basics in managing your business.

2.Understand your role in the market place.

3.  Develop or refine your strategic plans.

4.  Create branch and operational plans that are in alignment with your strategies.

5.  Continue to develop and train employees (don’t scrimp here).

6.  Upgrade your sales force and all support services.

7.  Manage your inventory.

8.  Understand and manage your cash-to-cash cycle.

9.  Insist upon sales territory plans that target accounts based on potential for growth.

10.  Create change based on changes in your markets and your industry.

Basic Best Practices

Take the time to review best practices as they apply to your business. Look at your processes, your procedures and your policies. Do they reflect good management principles or do they become a little spongy due to past practices?

What is Your Role?

Has your role changed in the market place? Are your business segments still the best match for your core competencies? What has changed and more importantly, what changes do you need to initiate? Do an internal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) with your management team and initiate a brainstorming or scenario planning session to reflect upon your changing role as a company in 2009 and beyond.