For companies, a danger in waiting too long to make cuts


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Since the worst period of the recession, small businesses in New Jersey have been taking steps to make themselves stronger for future downturns, according to Stephen Guidette, senior vice president of business banking at The Provident Bank.

Guidette works with businesses across many industries, but he has seen certain themes hold true regardless of companies' particular circumstances.

"Preservation of capital is so crucial, as is containing costs," Guidette said. "The ones that didn't get ahead of the curve — those are the ones that either didn't make it or are really sucking wind right now."

The vast majority of New Jersey companies didn't take steps that they could have to be better prepared for the recession, Guidette said, like diversifying their offerings.

"Most people don't prepare for the worst when they need to," Guidette said, adding a particularly common mistake was to wait until it was too late to reduce staffing levels. "The ones that did the best were the ones that recognized, batten down the hatches, this was not a storm that was going to end quickly," Guidette said.

It also helps to serve a market niche where demand is inelastic when times are tough.

"People don't like to cut spending for their family, their kids, their pets," Guidette said, adding that he has friends who operate youth sports clinics who have weathered the recession well, as have veterinary clients.

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