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5 principles of recession survival

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Last year, we marked the fifth anniversary of the start of the economic recession, which began in December 2007. The many losses attributable to the Great Recession, included 8 million jobs, 146,000 businesses and 17.5 percent in average individual earnings.

And yet, amid all this upheaval, many businesses not only survived but thrived. According to Donna Every, a novelist and business writer, “The entrepreneurs who are successful during times of uncertainty are so because they don’t rely on the standard approaches they’d use in predictable times, and they look for opportunities—the positives—in situations that would have been considered negatives five years ago.”

Every explains that a business climate is like the weather: When things are unpredictable, we need to be prepared with both warm- and cold-weather gear. In business, when things are unpredictable, we must be prepared to adopt new perspectives and practices.

So, which strategies can you use to thrive during uncertain times? Here, Every outlines some practices you can adopt to survive a volatile business climate:

1. Build on the present, not the wished-for future. Instead of setting goals and gathering the resources necessary to achieve them, see what’s already available and begin with that. This will save you the time and expense of acquiring resources you may not currently have while also giving you the opportunity to build on your existing strengths.

2. Do as they do in Las Vegas. Visitors to Vegas will often designate the amount of money they are willing to lose on cards or the slots. During volatile times, business owners should do the same. Rather than shooting for the moon, as you might in prosperous times, seek out opportunities that require a smaller capital investment. Determine how much you can afford to lose in a worst-case scenario.

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3. Join forces. When the going gets tough, you may find strength in numbers. Consider forming a partnership with other business owners to build opportunities together. Form mutually beneficial partnerships so that each party can enjoy new business opportunities.

4. Turn the unexpected to your advantage. Surprises don’t have to be unpleasant if you can be flexible and look for ways to use them to your advantage. When faced with the next unexpected contingency, look for a silver lining and use your creativity to turn a setback into an opportunity.

5. Stop trying to see around the next corner. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to predict the future when things are in flux. Focus on what you can create right now. When things settle down, you can return to using what happened in the past to predict the future.

“If you’ve survived the past five years, you’ve probably been relying on many of these strategies—maybe without even realizing it,” Every says. “Don’t abandon them yet, and if there are some here you aren’t using, work toward incorporating them, too.”

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