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Keep investing in the core.

Recessions end, and much of the art of recession management involves remembering that fact. When this lousy stretch is over, will your business be more competitive or less? The most successful companies never stop funding their most critical competencies - product innovation, customer service, or anything else.

Kohl's, the big retailer, actually spent more on marketing this past holiday season than it did last year. Intuit's Smith says, "We're not going to cut innovation. This company for 25 years has been fueled by new-product innovation. We're protecting the innovation pipeline so we come out of this strong." For virtually all companies, a critical part of the core is the continual development of employees. Yet it's remarkable how many businesses cut training and development in a downturn. The best never do.

Last updated January 08 2009: 9:17 AM ET
There's no script for running a company in this historic downturn. So what the heck do you do? More