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Many industries are resilient to the ebb and flow of the economy, but the majority of small businesses can be defined in some way as cyclical, or reliant on the general economy. When it takes a dive, a lot of smaller companies tend to go with it. A poor economy also tends to scare, and in most cases deter, potential business owners. But it shouldn’t.

I am living proof of this, as the CEO of a recruiting company whose bottom line is very dependent on hiring fluctuations in the United States and abroad, and on the general health of American companies. Running an executive search firm in today’s economy required a new thought process and a fresh approach to business. While other staffing firms have been going under or downsizing, my company is hiring and leasing additional office space.

How am I able to do this? Below, are four tips for anyone aspiring to successfully open a business in today’s economy:

Avoid negativity
You’d think I would be glued to the job reports every week, but it’s quite the opposite. I don’t have time for bleak news. We have broken internal recruiting records on the same days horrific job numbers were reported. As the CEO, if I don’t remain positive, I risk negativity spreading to my subordinates. The key is to be around positive, upbeat and successful people.
Follow your passion, no matter how bad you think the industry may be
When choosing a business to start, you should only consider industries that interest you, regardless of how badly they may have suffered. Many young entrepreneurs make a big mistake by letting the current economy decide what type of business they should open instead of the other way around. Good economic conditions are always helpful to the success of a business, but a favourable economy pales in comparison with a passionate CEO.

Good employees are hard to find; appreciate them
Some companies that come to us think they can get employees on the cheap simply because the jobless rate is high. Reality soon sets in. Exceptional employees are still hard to locate, procure and retain. Despite the economy, the talented are not going to work for free or on a discounted rate. When you find the right employees, make sure you pay them well and do not allow the current economic situation to justify treating them with anything less than absolute respect.

Keep a stiff upper lip
Entrepreneurship is hard, often frustrating, and just when you think you have everything in place, a setback comes your way. The current economic conditions do add to the frustration, but you can’t let outside factors determine your success as an entrepreneur. When things don’t go your way, it is imperative you keep fighting. A bad economy is no excuse for an entrepreneur to quit. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Young entrepreneurs can’t wait for another economic boom like the late 1990s, we must one for our generation. The economy is reliant on us more than we should be reliant on it.

Ken Sundeim – Globe and Mail – Thursday, February 16, 2012

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