Speaking at last week’s 28th annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies in Hollywood, Fla., Notre Dame family business professor Joe Schmieder had a rosy overview for the business climate in the coming year, says reporter Linda Koco.

Schmieder, a senior associate of the Family Business Consulting Group in Maretta, Ga., said “it’s not all gloom and doom … there are some green shoots coming out [in the economy].”

He said he has developed the impression that many insurance professionals tend to be optimistic and so have a positive feeling about the future. But they can still benefit from tips on how to conduct business during bad economic conditions. He presented 100 “action thoughts” he has pulled together from his from work with companies and others. In general, he said, “prediction drives what you do in your company. The key people have to agree on the overall direction.”

Some of Schmieder’s key suggestions include:

“Plan as if the downturn will be longer and harsher than what you expect.”

“Over-communicate” to staff and others.

“Instill a culture that says it is good to help make the company stronger.”

“Keep enthusiasm up, not matter how tough.”

“List every benefit the company offers and quantify it.”

“Strengthen your relationship with your banker.”

“Improve commission to cash cycle.”

“Call clients who have not paid greater than 30 days.”