The New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Group recently carried out a study of recession survival strategies. Their findings should be of interest to business owners everywhere.

They examined several multinationals that weathered the storm of several past recessions: The Great Depression, Oil Crisis, 1987 Stock Crash, Asian Financial Crisis, and the Dotcom Bubble of the late 1990s.

"Businesses should think cautiously in the short term but be ambitious and plan for the long term. There is no doubt that times are increasingly tough, but to survive, businesses have to look to the future."

They concluded that seven factors helped businesses through the recession, and also that these factors are well applied to small as well as large business interests:

1. focus on the core business

2. process and efficiency

3. strategic divestment

4. contingency planning

5. acquisitions and strategic alliances

6. increased advertising and marketing

7. increased investment in research and development

Note number five, Acquisitions and Strategic Alliances. It's fair to say that during a recession the strong don't just prevail, they often wind up as the beneficiaries of very favorable pricing on the assets of failed competitors. So one big idea many small to large businesses should be considering right now is how to make a big increase your companies value using the "bargain basement" prices you now find on some real estate, partnership services, and even purchases of all or part of your competition.

Another big idea to consider is working with the fact that government will be playing a larger role in business and business finance than in all of US history, and will be funding innovation and new job creation at unprecedented levels.  

However one feels about this from an economics standpoint it certainly offers big opportunity for those willing to think about job creation and innovations, especially those that match up with the emphasis on energy saving and green technologies.

Can you implement big ideas during bad times? Yes, and sometimes bad times can even be turned into the best times.