For some entrepreneurs, investing in new technology is an imperative in good times and bad. Hoffman has spent heavily on computers for training and networking as well as designing and managing construction projects. Sharing that attitude may be essential for you to come out of the blocks strongly when the starting gun fires for the next expansion, says Tim Petersen, managing director of University of Michigan's Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. "If you get out of control on cost-cutting," he warns, "you're going to lose out on the next cycle."
Others are more cautious. Gauger's company has a three- to five-year plan for acquiring and integrating new technology and is generally sticking to it. But Gauger says, "Now that things are scarier, we are not looking at a major outlay for technology."
The best tools for managing through a recession may be your fellow entrepreneurs. Sean Magennis has overseen two layoffs at Thomas International USA Inc. since last summer. Now down to just 12 employees, the 36-year-old entrepreneur still isn't sure he'll make it through the recession with much more than just himself. But he has gained some valuable perspectives from discussing his situation with colleagues at the Dallas chapter of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization (YEO), an international association providing business owners under 40 with a way to get together with their like-minded peers.
One very important lesson Magennis has learned is that it can get worse, and you can still get through it. "Our friends in Mexico have managed through several massive devaluations the likes of which we have never seen before, and they have a very different perspective," he says. "They regard this as a minor irritant."