When tough economic times arrive, there are so many different actions that business owners need to take that it can become bewildering. What is needed is a road map and here is a checklist of 50 important items for surviving and prospering in a challenging economy.
By Jamie Herzlich  Newsday BUSINESS•COLUMNISTS

Risk Factor Analysis

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Are you stuck in the vicious circle of business ownership?

Preparing for a Business Downturn

Business downturns come in many shapes and forms – from a recession that affects the whole economy to something very specific that only affects your industry. They can be caused by such diverse elements as a market crash, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster (such as Katrina or Sandy), an epidemic on another continent (such as SARS or the avian flu) or by one of a thousand other things.
It seems as though we have been in a recession for so long that new initiatives to make your business leaner and more competitive are harder than ever to find. This is the same for everybody, and now is a good time to take a step back and look at first principles again.
It is essential to keep your priority items to a minimum. If everything is important, nothing is important and if you have too many top priorities there is a very real danger that none of them will get done.
The longer a negotiation takes, the more likely it is that it will not consummate as it allows the opportunity for other opportunities to come in to play that compete with what you are trying to get done.
“Good to Great” is a terrific book that should be in the library of every small business owner. While the principles enshrined in the book are universally valid, for so many small businesses owners the journey that they need to take can be more accurately described as “mediocre to good”. 
Are you chasing revenues because your cost structure is too high?  Do you say to yourself, “If only I could increase revenues x% then my cost structure would make sense and I would be making money”?

The Disaster Box

You can insure existing assets - your building, inventory, receivables and lost profits. You can insure your life and the lives of your key employees. You can insure much of what exists today….but you can’t insure your business against a disaster.  
Years ago I was in the computer service business and we had an insatiable need for spare parts to repair the broken systems of our service contract customers. Many of these systems were pretty old and using used parts was not only acceptable but essential.
Companies don’t plan to fail, they simply fail to plan. Many of the small to medium sized business owners that I meet have traditionally paid very little attention to planning. It is difficult, the thinking goes, takes resources and is not necessary for their business. It is something that large companies do.
Return on Investment (ROI) has become a buzzword over the last decade, but the reality is that many people, especially these days, are averse to making investments in their business. They want to see the returns, for sure, but seem to think (or hope at least) that the return can come even if they don’t make the investment.
Owners and managers know that they should constantly keep the quality of their staff high by firing the weakest performers. It follows that they should also do the same with their customers.
The mission statement is probably the most outdated corporate invention of the last thirty years. The problem is that so many people are so intent on conforming to politically correct positions that they fail to communicate and simply regurgitate blinding glimpses of the obvious.