So, government experts finally declared we are in a recession, but they say it actually began December 2007. Some news!

This is the difference between government and business. If it took us a year to figure out the state of the economy related to our business, we wouldn't be in business.

Most shop owners I've talked to have already been changing strategies to deal with changes in their business.

The question is will you have enough profitable work moving forward to move your business ahead? What do you have to change in 2009 to help your business thrive?

In theory, tough economic times shouldn't change the fundamentals of how you run your business.

But the reality is that economic obstacles expose the parts of your business you've been neglecting. Anybody can run a business in a boom. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and devote energy to really managing your business rather than just riding it.

Start with yourself

The first step is to look in the mirror. As the leader of your business, if you don't have your act in gear, you can't expect your team or your customers to react positively. If business is slower than usual, take advantage of that time to reorganize, revamp, and retool.

Check out Gero Sassenberg's column in this issue that talks more about this process ( It's about time ).

If business management is difficult for the woodworkers who run most small shops, then sales and marketing is even harder.

But today there is very little that is more important to the longevity of your business than your sales and marketing skills. Because of the nature of most woodworking projects, what you sell today determines your workload weeks and months into the future.

If the well is running dry, you need to prime that pump. Remind all of your customers, old and new, that you are in business and available.

Reaching out

Reviving all of your old contacts is just the beginning. Networking can be a crucial tool to widen your reach. Our cover story talks about a Vermont shop that was built on networking ( Networking spurs shop's growth ). Check it out on page 26.

After you've done all you can to spur more work from existing or past clients, look in other directions. Maybe you should consider a diversification plan. That's the approach  JCS Construction Inc. in Imperial, Calif., took. Read more about it:  Shop's diversification keeps cash flowing.

At  CabinetMaker magazine, we are absolutely committed to the success of the small shop.

No matter what this new year brings, we guarantee we will continue to bring you tools to move your business forward. We are too busy looking ahead to worry about what the bureaucrats see in their rearview mirror.

Many readers will notice a change in this issue. We've done away with the mail-in "bingo cards" for readers to request information on products.

Why wait for the mail when you can get instant responses? Just go to  here to get fast, free information on any of the products you see in this issue.

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