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"To do nothing is to take a risk, and more often than not, it’s as great a risk as taking calculated action," says Dennis Ceru, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Wellesley, Mass.
Consumer spending and the economy can rebound quickly. Companies that can’t jump on an opportunity because they don’t have the staff or equipment may lose out to competitors.
"To be caught unaware and unprepared is as bad or worse as stepping into the pool before it’s up to temperature," Ceru says.
Not moving forward because of uncertainty about the health care law is a mistake, USC’s Allen says.
"They will not get all their questions answered for some time to come. Do you stand and wait for everything to be figured out before you do anything to grow your business?" she says.
SHOW EMPLOYEES THAT YOU CARE
As the labor market improves, many people will look for new jobs. Retaining staffers is key, says Maria Martinez, owner of Respira Medical, a company that provides respiratory and other medical equipment.
Martinez, who has 60 employees, uses incentives like flexible scheduling and tuition reimbursement to reward and keep staffers. They can come in late or leave early when necessary. She gives each employee four days a year with pay to volunteer at charitable organizations.
"It could be the simplest things that could make a difference," says Martinez, whose company is based in Linthicum Heights, Md.
Martinez also believes in helping any employee who’s struggling with personal or financial issues. She arranged for dental care for a staffer who couldn’t afford it. The man never smiled because he was ashamed of his teeth, and when he got dentures, he began smiling at work for the first time. Martinez also fired a worker who belittled the man because of his teeth.
Owners who had to cut 401(k) contributions or other benefits because of the recession and its aftermath should start restoring them, Insperity’s Sarvadi says.
"I would consider, if not all at once, then incrementally bringing some things back," he says.
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