Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Shares Economic Survival Tips

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Shares Economic Survival Tips

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

Recession or recovery, downtown or uptick, there doesn't seem to be a clear definition of the economy.

"It's been no rhyme or reason compared to previous years," said businesswoman Patsy Underwood, a small-business owner who sells office supplies.

Months that usually produced little business ended up booming, while the big-time months turned slow.

It makes you wonder, Underwood said, "what's coming next month?"

Underwood was one of 16 members of the Women Business Owners of North Florida who met yesterday to discuss "how to prosper in your business during a downturn in the economy."

One undeniable point was that the economic downturn presented different opportunities to the business owners, all of whom operate or work with small enterprises.

For example, the ongoing streak of low interest rates has led to increased business for financial lenders, and the low interest rates on savings haven't deterred some investors who would rather park their money in bank accounts than in the stock market.

At the same time, businesses that provide services that aren't considered critical find their customers are cutting back or doing without, even though pricing might be favorable.

The group shared their insights into how to make the best of the economy.

-- Flexibility. Landscaper Laurie Prescott has adjusted her services to fit the customer's budget. For example, instead of selling a full master-plan design, she will offer consulting services. Or, rather than landscaping an entire yard, she might do just a corner. "Flexibility is very important," she said.

Business coach Doug Wilder noted that "people are more insecure" with their jobs now. Plus, "they're not having as much fun."

Wilder said some people "use the economy as an excuse" for not changing their situations. …

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