How to Handle the Downturn: Xconomy’s Top 9 List of Top 10 Lists

Death. Taxes. Advice. You can always count on the first two, as the saying goes. But advice—usually unsolicited—can be added to the “inevitables” list whenever things go sour. As in today’s economy.

Said advice will be all over the map, too—everything from “cut your losses and head for the hills” to “double up and buy big when valuations are low and sellers are desperate.” A lot of it will be from hucksters and not worth the paper (or HTML page) it was written on. But some of it will be good…damn good.

We’ve been keeping our eyes open for that last category of advice. Much of it comes in the form of lists—10-Things-to-Do-to-Thrive-During-a-Recession kinds of lists. The editors here have scoured the web, including our own three sites, compared notes, and put together our own list of the best of these lists.

Yes, I’ve taken a bit of poetic license in the headline because not all the chosen entries include 10 items—some are shorter, at least one is longer—and some of them aren’t really lists. But they’re all in the spirit of lists, in that they lay out a series of recommendations. Not all specifically deal with the recession, either: items like our own publisher (and angel investor) Steve Woit’s list of Top 10 Mistakes by Entrepreneurs provide insights that are good no matter what the economic climate.

With those caveats aside, in no particular order, our choices are listed below. We only found nine that we liked (well, there was a 10th, but that publication decided to put its list in a members-only archive that costs $124 a year—a decision that probably belongs on a list of what not to do in a downturn). So please drop a note in the comments section if you know of a good one we missed.

1). E-mail From Jason Calacanis: How to Handle Layoffs (Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch)

Favorite item: Don’t sugar coat it: You need to be 100% honest and up front with people about why you’re doing it and what your decision was based on

2). 10 Tips for Building Revenue in the Ad Recession (Mike Hirshland, Polaris Venture Partners, writing in GigaOm—Hey Mike, What’s up with that?)

Favorite item: Turn remnant inventory into premium

3). Why Startups Fail: A Top 10 List From Geoff Entress, Seattle’s Prolific Angel Investor (Gregory T. Huang, Xconomy)

Favorite item: They don’t change their business model when it becomes obvious that it is flawed.

4). Angel Investor Ron Conway E-mails His Portfolio Companies Over Financial Meltdown (Michael Arrington, TechCruch)

Favorite item: If you are in a funding cycle, you should raise your funding as soon as possible and raise as much as possible.

5). Top 10 Mistakes by Entrepreneurs (Steve Woit, Xconomy)

Favorite item: Failing to communicate with important constituencies

6). Surviving—and Thriving: Entrepreneurs Offer Prescriptions for Tough Times (Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe)

Favorite item: take a long-term view

7). Top Ten Ways for Your Business to Deal With a Recession (Charles H. Green, Trust Matters Blog)

Favorite item: Set a new metric; be in the slower half to lay off people

8). 10 Worst Innovation Mistakes In A Recession (Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek)

Favorite item (remember, these are things NOT to do): Boards Replace Growth-Oriented CEOs with Cost-Cutting CEOs

9). 7 Ways to Talk Your Way To the Top in a Down Market (Abigail Johnson, Roeder-Johnson Corp., writing in GigaOm)

Favorite item: Be clear and articulate about your differentiation and benefits

Bob is Xconomy's founder and chairman. You can email him at [email protected] Follow @bbuderi

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