As I walk throughout the local community and speak with many on the phone, I ask many the same question: “Are you glad that 2011 is almost over, or was it a good year for you?” Almost universally the great majority are glad that 2011 is winding down is over and they are optimistic, but not overly so, about 2012. The overwhelming feeling is that many business owners are still trying to find their way in this New Paradigm, but the shell shock of the Great Recession seems to be wearing off.

There is no clear consensus of when this New World actually began. You could point back to many factors over the past ten years that set the machine in motion, but most say that it was late 2007 and into 2008 that the official economic numbers started downward. In my personal opinion the other shoe fell in fall of 2008, specifically September of that year, when the government bailed out AIG with $85B followed by Lehman Brothers, General Motors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and a host of others.

All that is fine- and it’s good to study history- but where are we now??

The shock to the psyche seems to be adjusting itself and many business owners and employees are now realizing that when the recovery does begin, it will not be an overnight phenomenon. The years 2009-2010 were difficult and we kept waiting for answers and a turn around. It seems that may be a while coming, so rather that using Hope and Wishing as a Business Plan, let’s create our own recovery.

The New Business Normal involves many factors including:

Run a tight ship. This means keeping an eye on cash flow, not just quarterly, but monthly, weekly and daily. Every expense should be justified and validated as to benefit. “Will buying this/ spending that” improve my business or profit? If you cannot answer that with a “Yes”, then think it through again.

I’ve always done it that way, so I will keep doing it that way. Egos kill more businesses that any financial crisis you could imagine. Change is inevitable and we are going through changes on a massive scale. A quote I always use says “Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s the best or the only way.” At one time we relied on wired phone lines, mail delivery and antennas on our televisions, but these are destined to be relics of the past. If you cannot acknowledge that there is a problem you cannot move on to the next step.

Ask for help. This follows the above. If you cannot figure out what to do, then find someone that can. Having problems with technology? Finding or using capital? Developing marketing and sales programs that actually work? If you are challenged by any of those, then seek out guidance. It is all around you, just ask.

Become familiar with Social Commerce and how to use it properly. Many business owners shun or avoid the on-line world, but it is foolish to bury your head in the sand and pretend it does not exist. The Big Three- Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter- all serve a purpose. Will they work for you? Can you monetize them? There is only one way to find out. The attention span of the average consumer can now be measured in fractions of a second, so old marketing may not work any more. We are moving at a breakneck pace and the Old Ways will probably never return.

The Next Steps? Get used to this Brave New World and create your own space within. The American Economy will improve, though it may not be universal and it may not be overnight. There is only one thing you can control, and that is your actions and your efforts towards generating your own financial recovery.