The last few years have been hard on small and large businesses alike. We live in “interesting times” and some of the old reliable rules are as wobbly as a three legged chair. For some small to medium sized businesses, success means surviving until the compass points to a new, more trustworthy heading.

Small Business Survival Tips

Let’s take a look at five ways you can refine your focus, or shift it, to survive until the business climate improves.

Develop workarounds. Even in good times, things don’t always go according to plan. It’s important to have a plan, but it’s also important to have a variety of potential approaches to achieve your objectives if Plan-A doesn’t work out.

Start working now to anticipate problems (because they’re going to happen), and find creative potential solutions. You probably have to make a hundred decisions every day, and time is at a premium, but this is one exercise that’s worth the minutes it will take to help you get over, under, or around the inevitable obstacles that will get in your way. Do you have a single supplier providing an essential component for your production line? Is there one pivotal employee who’s the brain trust for vital processes in your office? Once you start to think about the potential problems that these and other business situations represent, you can start to develop a strategy, and a plan, for handling them.

Embrace the challenge. The old adage that inaction breeds despair was never truer than it is today. Have you hit a wall, or is worry making your outlook bleaker than the actual circumstances warrant? Keep a cool head and take an inventory of what your business has to offer. What would have to change for your circumstances to improve? Do you still have the drive to continue? What can you do today to be proactive about tomorrow’s challenges?

Change your expectations. Your business may not be on plan or even on solid footing, but you’re not alone in that. If you lower your expectations, you may begin to see things differently and find potential in areas that escaped your notice before. Expectation can be a friend or an enemy; it’s all in how you use it.

Recognize errors. Throwing good money after bad can be a tragic mistake when you’re running a small business. Once you’ve made an investment in a new approach or product, it’s hard to accept that you’ve gone in the wrong direction. Being able to cut your losses and regroup may mean the difference between being around next year and becoming a statistic.

Keep your business and personal life separate. Small business burnout is very real, and one thing that ignites the match is bringing your business woes into other areas of your life. If you can’t remember a conversation that started and finished with a subject other than business, you need to change your focus occasionally. Think of it as putting money in the bank. Personal time helps create balance. It’s renewing, and you’ll be surprised at how refreshing and revitalizing a brief break from work can be.

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