Pat Mackaronis Describes How to Be an Entrepreneur

The following is a post from Brabble director of business development Pat Mackaronis. Pat is a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of entrepreneurship and startups, and has been a self-starting businessman for years.

Over the past year I have came across many people who want to become entrepreneurs but fear became their biggest obstacle. To have success as an entrepreneur is nothing more than a different mindset from your present mind. You are programming your mind to object the reality of going from crib, to cubicle, to casket. We all have experienced seeing some invention or idea and thought to ourselves, “I had that same idea” The difference was the other person mindset was in action as yours remained in fear. I will share with you some attributes that you can put into your life to start programming the way you think.

The first thing first is how you define what an entrepreneur is. The definition I like to use is simple as, a person who solves other people problems. All you have to do is ask yourself, “Do I have what it takes to solve someone’s problem?” Once you have the answer to that question you move into the next step.

Brainstorming is a way to start taking action and begin putting all your thoughts down on paper. Not caring about structure but writing non-stop about what you have to offer to solve someone else problem. I recommend not even thinking too much about what you are going to write down. Like the slogan for Nike say, “Just Do it.”

After you have brainstorm and wrote all your ideas and visions down on paper, take a quick break just to say, ” I am on my way to fulfilling my dream.” Feel great about taking action, because if you are feeling fear or overwhelmed, then maybe you might want to reexamine your passion or idea.

One simple step is to organize that same piece of paper you brainstorm on into a business plan. There are websites like; www.score.org that contains business plan templates and my favorite site is www.myownbusiness.org, which will walk you through the whole process of starting up a business.

Let me take a break and state that you should not have money on your mind right now. It will come a time you have to relax and just concentrate more on your goal. There are two outcomes after you have your business plan, either you will have an affect on your environment or your environment will have an affect on you. Please repeat what I just said because this is what is going to push you forward to get your idea going. You have to be the one to control your environment. You don’t believe in yourself then no one will believe in your services or product you are trying to offer.

The best attribute I can offer is read as much material on what you are trying to accomplish as possible. Successful entrepreneurs educate themselves in their field. While majority of people are sitting on the couch stuffing there minds with false reality of T.V., successful entrepreneurs are at the bookstore and library soaking up all the knowledge that they can endure.

Being an entrepreneur is the new reality. People are tired of going to work for hours out the day for a single pay check, which the government takes 25% of. The economic recession should be a wake up call to people who have the desire within to unleash their true potential. Look at the economic recession as a blessing because you can provide other people with jobs if you use what talent you have and bring it into existence.

To be an entrepreneur means getting over the fear and knowing that you are beyond powerful and well capable to create the life you deserve.

What Are Social Entrepreneurs

With slogans like “greed is good,” capitalism has earned a bad name despite a prevailing view that capitalist market action is the best means to address social issues like poverty. Although charity and investment seem to be conflicting terms, we actually need true social investments to ensure charity is successful. As a result, social entrepreneurs are the types of investors we need in our society to ensure long-term prosperity for our Country and the rest of the world.

A social entrepreneur is a businessman or woman who focuses on addressing the needs of a society through business. When jobs are needed, the goal of these individuals is to spur an industry that can create jobs. If a community needs better food production or sustainable energy sources, social entrepreneurs step up to the plate. The ultimate goal is to ensure necessary industries exist to provide for current and future interests of a society.

 

Beyond essentials like greener industries, socially responsible entrepreneurs also try to address the other human needs of a community. Looking at healthcare, public health clinics and programs for children with behavioral issues may be considered the end result of social entrepreneurs. As such, this kind of business culture is not new. Of course, not every business answering the call of society falls under this category. The behavior of these institutes must serve both the short and long-term needs of a society while the firm must be stepping in to fill a need without regard to profitability.

 

While social entrepreneurs can certainly generate profit with their endeavors, it is not their goal to work for personal gain. Their altruistic firms are designed to turn a profit, so operations can continue and expand before funds are reinvested into other endeavors. As such, social entrepreneurs are creating true social investments versus starting charities that rely on funds or the kindness of others to continue.

 

Moreover, social entrepreneurs are individuals who use the capitalist markets to generate the resources needed to solve social issues. These social investors create firms and industries designed specifically to address the issues facing communities around the world. Certainly, profit from these firms can be used to award investors and founders, but the objective is to continue creating new programs. As such, these businessmen and women work to address social injustices by utilizing the most redeemable characteristics of our capitalist philosophy.

The Winning Mindset for Online Entrepreneurs

The mindset required to be an entrepreneur online is essentially the same as that required to an entrepreneur off-line. The mindset of an entrepreneur is composed of specific beliefs, values, thoughts and idea. His mindset helps him succeed, by taking actions that are congruent to it. Here is a general outline of what an entrepreneur thinks like:  An entrepreneur is responsible for his life and business. He does not blame his family, his neighbors, his dog, his circumstances or God for what’s going on in his life and business.

An Entrepreneur begins with the end in mind. He is very clear about what he wants. He plans his work and works his plan.

An entrepreneur plays on the court rather than sits on the side line watching others play.

An entrepreneur is disciplined enough to not let unjust criticisms and temporary setbacks upset him (God knows he receive a lot of it). They are pretty thick skinned to what their family, neighbors, or friends have to say. At the same time he is not arrogant. He gives people a patient listening and takes in constructive criticism, discarding the rest.

An entrepreneur does not wait for all signals to turn green. He deals with the red ones, when he reaches them and never before. He takes one step at a time.

An entrepreneur plays to win. He does not play to try, or to not fail, like most people do.

An entrepreneur is persistent. He might fall and get bruised several times. He just gets back up, thinks “That was interesting”, dusts himself clean and move on with his head held high. He will never give up. If he doesn’t get the result one way, he will try another way.

An entrepreneur is willing to lose. This doesn’t mean that he wants to lose, but just that he is willing to take calculated gamble. Most people don’t even start, just out of fear of losing.

An entrepreneur does not fear failure. He understands that failure is a part of life. He learns from them, rather than sits and brood about it.

An entrepreneur promotes and markets his-self and his ideas at every opportunity he get, where as most people hate selling or marketing.

An entrepreneur is an excellent receiver. He is willing to receive success, compliment, good publicity, good news, profit, and happiness and is just as much willing to receive failure, criticism, bad publicity, bad news, lose and sadness. He understands that you cannot have one without the other.

An entrepreneur is willing to get paid based on his results, rather than on the time he spent to achieve it. Most people won’t be willing to work for months without pay, but an entrepreneur will.

An entrepreneur has a ‘both’ mentality rather than an ‘either/or’ mentality. You have people who say that you can either have fun or make money, but in his world, it is possible to have both.

An entrepreneur values his, and other’s time more than anything else in the world. He understands that his time on this planet is limited, and does not delude himself into ideas that, he has all the time in the world.

An entrepreneur is just a normal man/woman like you and me. He has fears and worries too. What separates him from the rest is that, he acts despite the fear, where as most people are paralyzed into inaction.

An entrepreneur is always open to learning new things. He understands that the day he stops learning, he is dead. Most people on the other hand, have the notion that education ends with school or college.

Last and not the least, an entrepreneur is highly charitable, not just with his money, but also with his time, his knowledge and effort. He is always willing to donate money for a good cause. He is always willing to mentor someone. He understands that what ever he gives out, he will always get it back many fold. Some call it karma. Some call it ‘giving back’.

Could You Be an Entrepreneur?

First of all you need to know what the word entrepreneur means. Many people tend to give this word different definitions, and most of the time they will be right, but the dictionary defines an entrepreneur as a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk of a business venture.

Entrepreneurs are usually perceived as people with strong ideas, and the will, conviction, and determination to see their ideas materialize in the form of a company. They are risk takes who do what they think is right even when everybody yells at them and tells them that they are wrong. They make things happen,which is why they are very successful or broke. Most technological breakthroughs and advances have been possible thanks to entrepreneurs with vision. People like Edison, Henry Ford, or Bill Gates are just a few famous entrepreneurs.

 

Common attributes given to entrepreneurs define a strong personality. They are associated with personality traits such as leadership, vision, intelligence, gut, and ability to take risks and to reach goals. You might think that you do not posses these traits and therefore you can’t be an entrepreneur, but the reality is the opposite. You can develop some of these skills by learning and practice, and even more importantly, with tools such as modern computers and the internet, you can become an entrepreneur even if you don’t possess the aforementioned characteristics.

 

To be an online entrepreneur you don’t need millionaire investments or risking your reputation like the famous entrepreneurs do because the goal of most online entrepreneurs is more modest. They only want to be in control of their life again. Many people belonging to this group aren’t even the typical entrepreneur type of person, nor have an innovative new idea they market for millions of dollars. They are regular people with a defined goal and a fair amount of ambition; you can be in this group too.

 

You might encounter that you need certain skills to be successful in the online business, but everybody can learn new skills, plus the skills needed to be successful in this market are pretty simple. If you need more self confidence read books or listen tapes on the subject, if you need some knowledge in marketing, then get yourself a book and start learning. There are plenty of free and paid sources you can use to learn, so just go out and start your home business now.

Lessons for the Small Business from Avatar: Trends and Growth Lead to Change, a Closed Mind May Lead to Failure

ShowAs the story line unfolds, there are those who insist on doing things the way they have always been done. Closed minds lead to the inability to see possibilities. These individuals are incapable of seeing past the norm and accepting anything different.

As in most story lines, there is the other side. There are those who seek to understand, and are willing to open their minds to new possibilities. They are willing to consider something other than the norm.

How does that apply to the business world?

Building something from the ground up can have an emotional impact on individuals. When a business owner struggles to bring an idea into reality, they can fall in love with that creation. As the business fulfills the needs of a family, putting food on the table and sending the kids to school, a bond is established. That bond, between the creator and the created, is easy to see but difficult to break.

In some cases, it is a sad fact that a business will go under, due to the lack of an open mind and a willingness to accept change. Accepting change can become easier, if the creator of the business is willing to see the creation as something that can grow and change as needed.

While small business trends tend to change from year to year, it is a good idea to stay on top of the current issues which small business owners may face. Subscribing to Business Growth Trends will allow for access to this type of information. Along with information concerning business trends; this website also includes information on business resources and financial information.

Below are a few ways to help establish an open mind and ensure a better a transition toward growth and new industry trends.

Attend Trade Shows

Stay on top of the newest trends in the industry. Attend trade shows and conventions. This a great way to discover what others are doing, and learn more about new technology that may be making an impact on a particular customer market.

Read and Subscribe

Subscribe to magazines and other trade publications. Don’t stop there, locate the most popular websites within a trade industry and register to receive updates. This allows for information to flow into the business on a daily basis.

Join Associations

Opening a business is just the beginning. As the world changes, so does the technology within the business world. By joining associations and organizations that are dedicated to certain industries, a business owner is more likely to learn about the newest and hottest trends.

Continue to Learn

It is important to realize that as technology and knowledge increase, the business owner must keep up. Make education within your field a priority. According to Connie Podesta, many choose not to change out of fear. Reading her article, Why Accepting Change is Vital to Your Professional Success. can be a step toward having an open mind.

Bring New Ideas and Services to Customers

By putting a company at the front line of new products and services, a business owner is able to increase the value offered to customers. Customer loyalty and confidence can be built when new advancements in a business, create a greater perceived value.

Be Willing to Educate

Although new ideas and new ways of doing things are easier to accept for some people, there are those that have difficulty accepting change. Take the time to educate your customers about the reason for any changes. Allow them to voice their concerns or uneasiness, while reassuring them that the business has not changed, only the way some things are done.

Have an Attitude of Growth

With new trends, and cutting edge technology, may come some very expensive changes. An attitude of growth will allow a professional to see beyond the current customer base and recognize the needs of the community. There are always ways to improve. Reach out to the community, letting people know about the positive changes made and how they may be served by them.

Accept Change with an Open Mind

Having a closed mind does not allow for personal growth, or the acceptance of change. Looking beyond today and into tomorrow will allow for any needed changes. Competition can be difficult, economic downturns are not easy, but there is always room for an open mind.

Evaluate Business Trends Today

Take the time to evaluate the business as it is today. The evaluation process will be different for every field of interest. However there are a few steps that can lead to being better prepared.

  • What changes have come within this field and how have they impacted the business as a whole?
  • What changes can be seen on the horizon?
  • Will the changes make an old system obsolete?
  • Will the changes create new opportunities and a new customer base?
  • What type of education will be needed to stay on top of the changes that are coming?
  • Will the business be able to survive without incorporating the changes that are coming?
  • If so, how will it impact the business as a whole?

Change does Come

As the movie Avatar points out, changes do come. How a business deals with change and the impact, will have a lot to do with the survival of that business. Although survival may be important, economic stability is extremely important. A business that is merely surviving may be a business that needs to evaluate where it stands.

Owning a business can be a great experience. A successful business will continue to grow with the trends. The way it has always been done, may not always be the answer to growth. Look to the future, with an open mind and willingness to learn and grow.

Business Ideas: Hobby Services: Service Industry Business Ideas

YogaIn today’s marketplace, convenience is key. Consumers want what they need, when they need it, without having to rearrange their busy schedules to get it done. That’s partially why service businesses are always in hot demand – if they can find a niche market and then serve it well.

What follows is a list of some service industry business ideas that will get your creative juices flowing while providing you with several opportunities to explore, brainstorm and research further to see if one of these business ideas is the perfect entrepreneurial venture for you.

Business Idea: Searching for Collectibles and Antiques

This is a highly specialized niche market, but for the right collector, it’s a business idea that can provide great financial rewards. For those who already have a specific hobby they are passionate about collecting – such as stamps, paintings, comic books, dolls and antique scales – opening up a service business that caters to similarly inclined shoppers may be a logical step. Continue doing what you normally do to find the items you collect (garage sale hopping, flea markets, eBay) but instead of merely looking for yourself, look for your clients, too. Finding clients isn’t that challenging either, as you’ll probably already know where people with similar interests spend their time: reading collectors magazines, in the eBay forums, searching the Internet and in flea markets themselves.

Business Idea: Cleaning Golf Clubs

If you are already an avid golfer, then you know how important it is to keep your golf clubs clean. Yet, how often to you actually make the time to keep them in tip top shape? That’s where a golf club cleaning service can step in. By giving clients a very specific service – cleaning their golf clubs – while they get changed after a game or at any other time that is convenient to them – you are saving them time, energy and probably the cost of a new set of clubs after their poorly maintained ones have rusted, pitted or become discolored with use.

Business Idea: Yoga, Pilates or Self-Defense Instructor

Although the services are quite different, the intention is the same: offer clients a way to get into shape or defend themselves by showing and guiding them in ways to take control of their bodies and minds. Your schedule should be somewhat flexible for these types of business ideas, since your intended audience will likely require classes at varying times, and you’ll need to take some intensive training before teaching anything at all. But once you’ve completed those necessary steps, contact either other instructors in town to ask them how and where they began teaching, or make a call to your local recreation center and find out what you’ll need to do to use their facilities for a course.

Business Idea: Seamstress

For those who already love to sew and have all of the necessary items in place, starting a sewing business is quite straightforward. Put up some flyers around town announcing your services, contact local tailors and dry cleaning companies to let them know you’ll work with for them as a contractor, and get a cell phone that is only used for work purposes. Then, create a list of set prices for all different kinds of sewing needs such as hemming, repairs or creating a prom dress from scratch. Before you know it, your phone will be ringing off the hook.

Business Idea: Personal Chef

There are as many opportunities for providing cooking services to clients in your community as there are types of cuisine to choose from. Elderly clients may want someone to come into their home and cook for them, and young families overloaded with responsibilities may cherish a couple of hours of cooking time off from a pro. Expecting parents may like to sit down with a chef to work out meals they can prepare in advance and freeze for when the baby comes, and busy singles who travel often may lust after a home-cooked meal. You could even teach a specific kind of cooking that normally takes a bit to master, right in the intended chef’s home. How’s that for convenience?

What is a Social Entrepreneur?

SocialWhat is a Social Entrepreneur?
Defining the term ‘social entrepreneur ‘ is no easy task. Simply put, social entrepreneurs are those who identify social issues and use enterprise to help solve those issues. Social entrepreneurs act as agents of change and transformation for whatever problem they are trying to solve. This definition is clearly broad and open to interpretation.

Social entrepreneurship sounds a lot like non-profit work, but the two are actually quite different. Typical non-profits focus on immediate efforts, often taking on the task of disaster relief or providing immediate aid to those in need. Social entrepreneurship, on the other hand, involves trying to create long-term change, such as creating work opportunities for women in third-world countries to help eliminate poverty. Social entrepreneurship is not limited to the non-profit world; many for-profit ventures exist as well.

Famous Social Entrepreneurs
What, exactly, a social entrepreneur does is perhaps best illustrated by some of today’s most well-known social entrepreneurs. The founding father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus, started Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1976. Yunus was teaching economics when a terrible famine hit the region, leaving people starving to death in the streets. His solution was to provide collateral-free microloans to the very poorest people in the area, allowing the poor to fund their own small businesses and stop the cycle of poverty. The result has been nothing short of incredible; with $4.7 billion dollars provided to 4.4 million families in Bangladesh, Yunus has kept millions of people out of poverty. Today more than 250 other institutions follow the same mico-lending model.

A second notable social entrepreneur is Mimi Silbert, founder of the Delancey Street Foundation. Delancey Street rehabilitates former felons and drug addicts and teaches them to live productive and crime-free lives. Everyone who enters Delancey Street spends up to four years in the facility earning at least a high school diploma and training for a particular occupation. Delancey Street is 65% funded by the businesses operated by its graduates, including Delancey Street Moving Company and Delancey Street Restaurant. By taking former criminals off the street and giving them a fresh start, Mimi Silbert helps to end the cycle of crime that can often last a lifetime.

Interested in Becoming a Social Entrepreneur?
If you are interested in learning more about social entrepreneurship, many colleges now offer both undergraduate and graduate studies in the area. Check the colleges near you to see if any courses are offered.

Don’t want to head back to school? If you have a way to solve a social problem, you can start your own social enterprise at any time. Starting a social enterprise will vary in complexity depending on the task at hand, non-profit or for-profit status, and funding. Seek the guidance of friends, business professionals and fellow social entrepreneurs, and you could be on your way to changing the world in no time.

Planning your web site

HtmlBuilding your web site is a serious time commitment. Each business is unique, and therefore has unique needs for a web site. With this in mind, I will generalize the process to building your site by breaking it down into three stages: the Planning Stage, the Building Stage, and the Maintenance Stage. This article discusses the Planning Stage.

Stage 1: Planning it all out

Ultimately, everything we do in relation to our businesses comes down to making a living for ourselves. You know, that “bottom line” thing. While we enjoy our work and enjoy our independence, as business-owners we always need to remember that our time is important–at least, it is to us! Because our time is so valuable, careful planning will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

Generally, when planning your site, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Decide your web site’s purpose. (Why do you want a web site?)
  2. Collect/create the information you want to include on your web site.
  3. Map out your web site.
  4. Pick your programs. (Which web creation tools will you use?)

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Purpose: Why do you want a web site?

You may have a number of reasons for building your own web site, and you should try to list all of them. (I recommend actually writing them down, and keeping this list for future reference.) Your purpose(s) will depend largely on the type and size of your business, and might include the desire to advertise your business, to sell your products, to reach a larger customer base, and so forth.

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Collecting your information

You’ll need to decide on the information to include in your web site. I suggest starting off with a brain-storming session that includes you, and possibly a few of your key employees (if you have them). Think about the questions your customers ask you most often, about the products/services you want to highlight, and about the information that is most related to your purposes (see #1 above).

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Mapping out your web site

This stage is also known as “story-boarding,” and is similar to the processes used in film-making, advertising, and other similar fields. The idea is to build a map of your site that you can use to visualize the entire system you’re working on. I find maps useful when working on web sites because they allow me to see my progress–to keep track of what I’ve finished and what I still need to do.

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Selecting your tools

The tools you use to build a web site are entirely up to you because there are so many available. Generally speaking, you’ll need an HTML editor (text or “WYSIWYG“*), an FTP program, a graphics editing program, and a server on which to house your web files. Some HTML editors come with the FTP and graphics functions within them. Most newer computers come with all the programs you’ll need.

Playing to Your Strengths: How to Make the Most of Your Talent

strYou’re told to play to your strengths, but what are they and how do you do it? Many people are not fully aware of their strengths. When people get feedback about a strength, they often look surprised. They say it is just their job or they ask “Doesn’t everybody do that?” This shows that we discount the things we find easy to do or enjoy doing. Then we assume that everyone can do them. This is poor self-perception if you are overly aware of one or two weaknesses but unaware of your core strengths.

Strong self-confidence is the most important benefit of changing this imbalance so that we are more aware of our strengths. Confidence is our number one strength. Without confidence, we struggle to make full use of our strengths. When we are under pressure, we revert to our natural selves, but if we lack confidence, we freeze and cannot perform. Think of a golfer, baseball pitcher or tennis player who has an abundance of talent but who has lost confidence. These otherwise excellent performers can’t do their stuff if their confidence is lacking.

How to Assess Your Strengths

The first step in assessing your strengths is to determine which ones are most important in your role and your line of work. These are your strategic strengths, the ones most critical for success in your current job or next one. When you have a list of core competencies for the role, list them in order of strength for you from top to bottom. Ask yourself which ones you enjoy using the most and find easiest to use. This is a good way of identifying what you are good at. You could rate yourself on a five point scale for each competency but you might be tempted to give yourself overly high or low scores across the board. It is harder but more accurate to rank order them in a list. If you have some colleagues who know you well and are willing to give you honest feedback, ask them to do the same for you. Keep in mind, however, that they may not know you well enough to assess you accurately. Ask your boss to rate you too. You might include a few blank spaces for your raters to add extra competencies. It also helps to have questions on your feedback form where you ask people to list three things they would like you to start doing, three to stop doing and three to do more of.

How to Play to Your Strengths

If you are a manager whose strengths revolve around product development but you don’t like managing people, then you may simply have to set up a personal development plan for this area. However, if you have weaknesses in budgeting, planning, innovation or strategic thinking, you could delegate some of these tasks. You might cover off innovation and strategic thinking by brainstorming future possibilities with your team. The point is to apply the 80-20 rule. You should spend 80 percent of your time making use of your key strengths. This is just wise investment strategy. You need to invest your resources where you will get the best return.

Cutting Business Expenses in a Hurry: How to Achieve Fast Short Term Cost Reductions in a Company

reductionsWhen a company is having a problem with a drop in sales, or a cash shortfall, management needs to find real reductions in expense. Many strategies will work in a number of industries.

Reducing Salary Cost

In many industries, salary and benefits are major components of expense, up to 80% of total cost of business in some sectors. A reduction in work force (RIF) can reduce cost, but generally takes time to take effect. There can be the immediate cost of severance, outplacement assistance or benefits that delay savings.

A better short term effect is the reduction of hours from full to part time, or cutting the work day, for example from eight hours a day to seven. Lunches can be expanded in order to maintain coverage.

Reducing overtime is a key strategy for immediate savings. Hourly employees, especially those on time clocks can earn incidental overtime, loosely defined as extra tenths or quarters of an hour by clocking in early or out late.

Any kind outside labor, or contract labor should be reviewed. Companies pay a premium for contract labor, and unless the contract stipulates a certain number of hours, these hours can be reduced quickly in a crisis.

Some industries utilize bonuses for coverage or payments for employees to be on-call. These should always be watched closely, and if not needed, can be cut first.

Position controls are listings of employees and positions listing the scheduled hours for an employee. If a position control exists, management should compare the actual worked hours to what is scheduled. They may find that some part-time employees are working full time hours.

Cutting Supply Expense

Another large area of cost in many companies is supply expense. During a major downturn, businesses can save cash by spending down inventories of supplies.

If an item is recognized as inventory on the balance sheet, cutting into inventory will not result in an expense saving, since this will just reduce an asset the next time supplies are inventoried. It will save cash, however, and this generally the most important goal.

If the supply is expensed when purchased, using up excess stock will reduce both general ledger expense and cash outflow.

Reducing Other Expenses

Short-term savings can be achieved by cutting other non-necessary items:

  • Purchased Services – Anything that is bought from vendors outside the company should be questioned. If an service can be brought inhouse using current staff, employees are better utilized and expenses reduced.
  • Travel and Seminar Expense – Cutting education may be a negative in the long run, but surviving to make the long run may require cutbacks. Alternatives such as webinars and distance learning may prove to more efficient and equally valuable.
  • Preventative Maintenance – This tactic may prove to be short-sighted, because not maintaining equipment will be costly later on. It may be necessary to postpone cosmetic repairs or delay others. Equipment that is vital to core operations should be maintained in top working order.

Getting past a difficult period for the company will involve tough choices, but strengthening the business can help the business survive the downturn.