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Tips to handle 2009 management challenges

It was a challenging year in 2008 for almost all entrepreneurs and these challenges are going to increase in 2009. It is so important to start the year with a set of goals and resolutions to get you through the tough times. As I look forward to 2009, here are some of my resolutions and hopes for each and every entrepreneur.

By far, the most important goal is just to survive 2009. It is going to be tough as we just are not through this recession. However, by the end of 2009 or early 2010 we should be moving out and into a growth economy. It is so important to remember that we have gone through 13 recessions since the Great Depression and we have come out of each one of these. We will come out of this one as well.

Another resolution is to make sure that you support your staff in this next year. Fear is going be running rampant as we work our way out of the recession and your staff is going to be very fearful not knowing what is going to happen to their job and your company. You will have to go out of your way to ease your staff’s anxiety.

While you are struggling to survive, your staff trusts you to navigate the ship through the storm. Staff needs for you to be strong no matter what so that their fears are minimized. While you may have some down days, you just cannot show this to your staff at all.

If you have the resources, now is the time to take advantage of market opportunities. The most successful firms coming out of each recession are those that did not shrink but wisely invested to be able to grow rapidly once the economy turned.

Keeping as much cash as possible in these difficult times is a wise and strategic move. In difficult times cash is always going to be king and the more you have the better. Suppliers short of cash are going to be able to give you some tremendous terms if you can pay quickly.

Another resolution is to get your debt down to a much lower level. As you look around at the plethora of store and business closings, it almost always relates back to having too much debt. While leverage adds value, it also adds so much risk. The problem with debt is not the rate that is being paid, but rather the size of the principle payments that must be made no matter what. In the 2009 environment, the less debt you have the better.

The final resolution is for you to make sure that you have a plan to deal with the incredible stress each CEO is going to feel getting your business through this economic morass. While you cannot show your stress to your staff, you must develop ways to deal with stress in a productive but not harmful way. There are so many ways to do this from meditation and massage to exercise.

When I was writing my dissertation to complete my Ph.D., I had some committee members that were impossible to please. What helped me was going to the gym every day and running for 30 or so minutes. As ran, I pretended that I was stepping on the face each committee member that was giving me so much grief. At the end of my run, I felt so much better and with a lot less stress.

Now go out and make sure you have goals and resolutions in place to get you through this coming year. While it is going to be a very big challenge, our economy will improve.

Jerry Osteryoung is the director of outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship and professor of finance. He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com or by phone at (850) 644-3372. All of his articles can be found in a searchable form at www.cob.fsu.edu/jmi.

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