The 5 Cs That Can Help Businesses Ride Out Tough Times

By Ronnie Blair


With corporate chief financial officers expressing worries that 2020 could bring a recession, businesses small and large know they need to hope for the best and brace for the worst.

As important as business savvy and financial expertise can be in riding out difficult times, other traits also come into play and may be just as essential, said Marsha Friedman, a successful entrepreneur who still leads a business she launched three decades ago.

“One of those essential traits is courage,” said Friedman, founder and president of News & Experts, a national PR firm. “Thirty years ago, when I started my company, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail.”

Friedman, who is also the ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, understands this first-hand. Her firm, like many businesses, endured tough economic times after the 9/11 attacks. Revenue dropped and bankruptcy loomed as a real possibility.

“I had to figure out how to turn my company around,” she said. “It took courage, endurance, and perseverance, but I knew I could not go back, so I had no choice but to go forward.”

Courage is just one of what Friedman calls the 5 C’s for building and maintaining a successful business.

“They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes,” she said.

In addition to courage, Friedman’s other C’s are:

  • Caring: First, care enough about yourself and your dreams to believe you can achieve success, Friedman said.

“Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them,” she said. “Be supportive when stressful situations arise in their lives.”

Finally, a good business leader cares about customers, Friedman said. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.

  • Confidence: Most people have faced and overcome challenges in life. The confidence that allowed them to prevail over those challenges needs to be brought into play in business, Friedman said.

    “Believing you can reach for and achieve your short-term and long-term goals is essential to getting you there,” she said.

  • Competence: It’s critical to stay up on the trends and disruptions in your industry.

    “You need to recognize your limitations, and you shouldn’t take on jobs within your company for which you’re not qualified,” Friedman said. “You’ll make yourself miserable and your business will suffer.”

    Hire an accountant to handle the financials, she said. Get marketing help if that’s not your thing. Hire competent people who you will trust in their jobs – and then trust them.

  • Commitment: Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes. Friedman said there are times when this will be not only difficult, but downright painful. That was the case for her during those tough times after the 9/11 attacks.

    “I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees,” she said. “For more than a year, I ramped up marketing efforts, diversified our services, and took other steps to get the business out of the red. In 2005, I succeeded – and it has been upward and onward ever since.”

“If you’ve recently launched a new business, know that you’ll encounter challenges, but don’t panic,” Friedman said. “When times get tough, if you rely on the Cs as a sort of compass, you can guide the business back to smoother waters.”



About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman, author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, is a businesswoman and public relations expert with nearly 30 years of experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and professionals in the field of business, health and finance. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and president of News & Experts (, an award-winning national public relations agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies, who shares her knowledge both as a popular speaker around the country and in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself.


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