Invest in technology Technological improvements -- new billing software, for example, or an online ordering system -- will allow you to add new customers with little additional cost when business picks up.

Snap up talent on the cheap Because of record layoffs, the job market is flooded with qualified applicants. Take this opportunity to hire talented employees at a discount.

Ramp up training Identify employees' strengths and weaknesses and invest in targeted training and development programs to prepare them for the upswing.

Form strategic partnerships Make the most of the business slowdown by striking up partnerships that will pay off down the road.

Get to know prospective customers Build relationships with potential customers and learn more about their needs, then tailor your offerings accordingly to position your company for the future.

Cut costs strategically Instead of making across-the-board cuts, analyze costs carefully and reduce spending in ways that are unlikely to impair future growth. Be sure to put controls in place so spending stays in check after the rebound.