Seek good advice.
If you've never been through a down-turn, find someone to help you. But be careful, says Eisenberg: "[Bad consultants] may slash enough cost to create a profit short-term but ruin the infrastructure of a company so it can't recover."
Eisenberg also warns against relying too heavily on CPAs, bankers or lawyers-who often analyze your problems from their own professional standpoints rather than a broad perspective.
Other business owners are another source of good advice, says Ronald P. Schutz, founder and chair of The Smart Group Houston, a Houston-based financial consulting firm. Schutz belongs to the Emerging Entrepreneurs division of The Executive Committee, which can be used as a mutual support society when members face down times. Says Schutz, "At least one of us is in a low spot each year, but we support each other so we know we're not alone."
Regardless of what options you face in the coming year, most experts suggest you don't dawdle. "Make difficult decisions quickly," says Squar.
That may include the toughest decision of all: "The choice is always plateau and be stagnant, or sell the company while it's worth a lot and move on," says Friend. That's not an easy call to make if you've always seen yourself moving on to a new venture. But if you're unwilling to fish for several years to come, it's better to cut bait now. That way you can get your next enterprise ready for the next upswing.
If you decide to stick with it, though, you'll have it easier if you've taken care of all the previous points. With financial information, a solid economic foundation and people to act as your sounding board, you'll be able to make good decisions without much worry-even in a down market.
A former editor of Success magazine, Chris Sandlund writes about business from Cold Spring, New York.