keep-biz-alive.jpgEntrepreneurs typically have a passion for the business they've created. With the economy down, many business owners are facing tough decisions about how to keep their business afloat until sales improve. What would you be willing to do? For instance, would you liquidate personal assets to keep your business alive?

A recent study shows more small-business owners are contemplating doing just that -- dipping into their own funds to keep their business going. The Discover Small Business Watch survey of 750 small-business owners found nearly two-thirds--61 percent--of owners thought it likely they would tap into personal assets to stay afloat within the next year.

Forty percent said it was "very likely" they would use their own cash, while another 21 percent said it was "somewhat likely." These owners mostly don't plan to hit up friends and family, either--67 percent said it was "not very likely," or "not at all likely," that they'd get more operating cash that way.

Just a month ago only 46 percent of small-business owners surveyed said they were experiencing cash-flow issues.

Reading this study made me think about the businesses I see struggling in my own town. Some are trying hard, marketing everywhere--on city-specific online forums, sponsoring events, using Val-Pak. But many others have become invisible.

Right now the main strip mall in my town is home to a large, empty former Pizza Factory space that went independent, and then shut down--which no one has wanted to lease for more than a year. Next door is a crepes shop that went bust. Across the parking lot is a large empty space that was a mom-and-pop coffeehouse. And down from that, perhaps saddest of all, is a new yogurt shop that opened at the end of summer, too late to catch its prime season in my chilly Seattle-area market. I've seen zip in marketing from that new store, which also doesn't bode well.

Other local businesses I know are likely shoveling their own money in hand over fist right now to keep going. Which would you do--put in your own cash, or close your doors? Are you thinking about tapping your personal assets to survive?

That's always a risky proposition, as you don't know if you're throwing good money after bad. What are you willing to do to make it through the downturn? Leave a comment and tell us your strategies for keeping your cash flowing.