With rising energy costs, falling housing prices, a jittery stock market, and an anemic dollar, the economy certainly has seen better days. Well before economists and the media started whispering about a possible recession, entrepreneurs were on it. That's not to say they shuttered their warehouses or crossed their fingers and hoped the storm would quickly pass. By nature, entrepreneurs seek opportunities, no matter the climate.
The tricky domestic economy will lead some business owners to find new markets abroad. Others will rev up sales as competitors struggle. And many will seek new niches or invest in new products. That's one of the steps Ada Polla Tray, owner of Alchimie Forever, had taken. After seeing sales begin to slip last summer, Polla Tray launched a new product to diversify her skin-care company and keep revenues flowing. She's among the small business owners featured in our Cover Story, "Don't Let the Downturn Get You Down." After hearing their stories and speaking to plenty of experts, Staff Writers Amy S. Choi and Jeremy Quittner detail the steps you can take so your company not only survives the slowdown but continues to grow. Some of these ideas may surprise you.