CHICAGO (TheStreet) — For some, the New Year can't come soon enough. Business owners across the country who watched their sales and revenue slide downward month after month are hoping 2010 brings a fresh start.
Painful as 2009 may have been, it also taught us some valuable business lessons. Before bidding farewell to a rough year, take a look back at what we've learned:
1. Every penny counts: Resourceful businesses re-evaluated and re-negotiated every cost on their balance sheets this year, from payroll to rent. One place they couldn't strike a deal was with credit-card fees, which have been rising even as more Americans use them to charge ever-smaller amounts. Expect the controversy over "swipe fees" to continue into 2010 as independent businesses try to recoup some of those costs.
2. Sorry, no bailouts for small business: Despite politicians' eagerness to promote themselves as "pro-small business," they offered no grand rescue packages for the nation's smallest companies. Goldman Sachs
5. When things go wrong, lead by example: Most small businesses were hurt by market forces outside their control, which led some owners and managers to take a don't-blame-me attitude. But the true leaders made personal sacrifices to help shore up their companies.
Business owners who were in the trenches with their workers, putting in long hours and declining perks, should reap the benefits of low employee turnover and strong company loyalty in the years to come.