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Stop the Fear, Take Action


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Illustration: Chris Whetzel


These days, the TV and newspapers bombard us with dark and dreary headlines: “Outlook Darkens as Recession Deepens.” “U.S. Unemployment on the Rise.” “Foreclosures Up a Record 81 percent in 2008.” The statistics are true, but what does all this gloom and doom do for us? Besides creating more stress than we already feel, not much. So instead of worrying about what the future may hold, we want to encourage you to take action. Here are some tips from 10 experts—including a credit counselor, a Buddhist bishop, and a marriage and family therapist—on what you can do, minus the nail-biting.





Protect Your Small Business

Wayne Kamitaki

part-owner of Ben Franklin Crafts and select Ace Hardware Hawaii stores

“For small-business owners there may be a silver lining in this downturn: It’s an opportunity to reaffirm why they became independent business persons to begin with. I’m assuming that there’s a passion behind the businesses they operate or the services they provide to their customers. Go back to those foundations and philosophies and focus on those basic values. 

This downturn can also shift the focus back to satisfying your customers. Often, we have the perception that price is the single biggest factor determining where people take their business. In fact, customer service, which means treating people as you would like to be treated and letting them know how important their patronage and satisfaction are to the success of your business, will bring them back on a repeat basis.

Running a business operation takes discipline and a keen attention to the key numbers that drive the business. It’s easy to get caught up in running a business based on emotion, what we like or dislike, or to get sidetracked on small, noncritical issues. In a difficult economy, independent business owners need to pay particular attention to the critical numbers—sales, gross profit margins and expenses—and make decisions that will improve their operations.

Communicate with your staff, as well. Share your thoughts and concerns with them; they are a crucial element in helping you meet current challenges.”


Make Yourself Employable and Retainable

Allyson Tanouye

director of the Counseling and Student Development Center at UH Manoa, shares these tips:



Invest time and effort to get back in touch with former bosses, friends, colleagues or acquaintances.
Effectively network with your contacts to learn about opportunities and, if you’re currently on the market, follow up with each lead.

Sharpen Your Skills.

Take adult education classes, attend conferences or continue your professional development by reading industry publications, books and online articles.

Evaluate Your Expertise.

Consider the skills that you have developed in your current employment and transfer them to career opportunities in high-growth industries, such as healthcare, social assistance, public and private educational services, information technology, and communications.

Maintain Your Online Presence.

What will a potential employer find if they Google your name? In the current job market, many avenues are used to gather information on prospective employees. Think about branding yourself online with a Web site highlighting your experience and qualifications. Or, establish a profile on a professional or social networking site, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

Update Your Resume and Cover Letter.

Personalization is key. Highlight qualifications for which your target companies are looking, and include quantifiable results of your work, such as percentages, dollar amounts, demonstrated gains or comparisons.


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