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Small Business Survival Kit

Companies big and small on Main Street are feeling the impact of the financial crisis on Wall Street, and its economic ripple effects.

But, there are some steps businesses can try to take to buttress them in hard times.

And money maven Dave Ramsey spelled a few out on The Early Show Tuesday.

He also had some advice for individuals.

"There's lots of small business owners we're talking to that are actually doing fine," Ramsey told co-anchor Harry Smith. "But the thing you've got to do in small business is the same things you've got to do in your personal life. I run a small business. I've got 225 folks on my team. The first thing is, you've got to keep the emergency fund and not depend on lines of credit. In business, we call the rainy day fund retained earnings. So, have some money, some savings, so you're not depending on the bank to make your payroll, or carry you through those times. Small businesses are traditionally bad at saving money. ... We had to make it a formula around here.

"The second thing you need to do is evaluate your business plan and really look at stuff like accounts receivable. Small businesses can't afford to be the bank for their customers. And so, you've got to shift to where you've got different terms on the business you put out there, like, for instance, deposits up front or prepaying for ... job or those kinds of things, rather than letting somebody ride you for 45 or 90 days and that causes you to have to lay people off. And that's really tough, but terms are big around here, because I don't want to be somebody's bank."

Ramsey says small business owners "are the best employers, because (their employees are like family to many of them), so it rips your heart out at a different level than some corporate guy with a red pen (to let someone go). It's a completely different feeling.

"And so, if you're one of the people who have been laid off, either from a small business or from corporate America, the first thing you've got to do is do necessities first. That's food and lights and shelter and clothing and transportation. You let MasterCard and student loans slide if you have to, but eat first and go pick up three part-time jobs immediately. Don't sit and wait on the big job to come through while you're looking for the big job. Deliver papers, deliver pizzas, throw some boxes for UPS. Do whatever it takes to keep some basics covered with some cash flowing."