While economists quibble about this year's economic outlook, Deborah Noland is preparing her interior design firm for the worst, while hoping for the best. The downturn that began after the stock market plunge last August recalled for Noland her experience a decade earlier: Following the 1987 crash, Noland & Associates barely managed to eke through the ensuing recession by slashing fees and targeting high-end residential clients unaffected by mundane economic disasters.
This time around, Noland's Matthews, North Carolina, firm will be ready if the economy hits the skids. "We've cut overhead, paid company debts, renegotiated long-term financing and initiated aggressive marketing efforts throughout the booming Charlotte market--not to mention launched our Web site," says Noland, 47. "Whether we're heading into a recession or it's just a momentary dip on the economic roller coaster, I'm pulling out all the stops."
Similar views have been voiced by a growing number of diverse business owners who, until now, have known nothing but a vibrant economy, which hasn't helped equip them for the potential economic downturn ahead. So just how might this downturn impact entrepreneurs and what can you do to protect your business?
" is going to feel particularly bad for businesses because we've experienced such good economic conditions for the past five years," says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Regional Financial Associates (RFA), a research and U.S. economic analysis provider in Philadelphia. "We've had double-digit growth for much of the recent past, and we'll see only marginal profit gains in 1999, so business [owners are] going to feel that the environment has changed dramatically."
Paul DeCeglie, who is personally opposed to recessions, has weathered more than a few economic storms in the quarter century he's been covering business and economic issues for the American Banker, the Journal of Commerce, Entrepreneur, Business Start-Ups and other business publications. You may contact him online at MrWritePDC@aol.com.