Recession survival tips from an expert

One of our favorite business writers is Tom Peters, who recently posted 44 Strategies for Thriving and Surviving in the Great Recession on his blog, www.tompeters.com.

Peters is the co-author of the classic business book “In Search of Excellence” and is one of the most influential business thinkers of the last 30 years. His writings and ideas always resonate with us, so we decided to share a few of our favorites from his list.

We believe small business owners will find Peters’ strategies helpful as they think about ways to survive through these most difficult of times.

Tom’s Strategy No. 10: You take better than usual care of yourself, and encourage other people to do the same. Physical well-being determines mental well-being in response to stress.

Who has the time to exercise and eat right? It’s so easy to neglect yourself when you’re working longer and harder, especially if you’ve had to lay off staff. However, thoughtful decision-making is critical in being able to take advantage of opportunities and properly plan for when the economy improves, and you cannot do that if you are physically and mentally depleted.

Tom’s Strategy No. 13: You buck yourself up with the thought that this too shall pass, but then you remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon and so you rededicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you’ve got now.

Many entrepreneurs by their very nature are optimists, but they also need to be realists. This can be a tough balance, but use the passion you have for your business to focus on making your enterprise better today. These small, incremental improvements can keep your doors open now and potentially pay big dividends in the future.

Tom’s Strategy No. 17: You sweat the details as never before.

This strategy applies whether the economy is booming or in recession. For us, a laserlike focus on constantly improving your customers’ experience is a detail that never goes out of style and will create new product or service opportunities for your business.

Tom’s Strategy No. 27: You behave kindly, but you don’t sugar coat, and you don’t hide the truth — human beings are startlingly resilient and besides, rumors are the real killers.

It is easy for your employees to assume the worst about the future of the company. Being upfront with them about the real challenges of your business during tough times helps everyone stay focused on the need for exceptional customer service and care for the details.

Tom’s Strategy No. 28: You treat small successes as if they were Super Bowl victories — and celebrate and commend accordingly.

We absolutely agree! Your employees need to see that you see a light at the end of the tunnel. Optimism needs to carry the day. Staff morale is critical to your success and even more so in these times. Be creative with how you celebrate.

Tom’s Strategy No. 33: You redouble, then you triple your efforts to walk in your customer’s shoes.

This is our favorite one. How often do you check in with your customers? Do you speak with your best customers on a regular basis? During tough times, communicating and building relationships with your customers, is critical to being able to “walk in your customer’s shoes.” Make this strategy one of your top priorities for the New Year.

Pat Sisneros is vice president of college services at Everett Community College. Lynne Munoz is director for the School of Business Design. Please send your comments to entrepreneurship@ everettcc.edu.

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