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The first signs of economic recovery are starting to show—companies are turning a profit, the stress of cash-flow management is easing, business owners are starting to spend money again on those items that they’ve delayed.  A gentle word of warning to you entrepreneurs:  Watch your optimism.

Identify your opportunities

I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs and self-employed types who are quite optimistic again about their ability to pay down debt they’ve created or invest in delayed business plans.  Many of us are starting to get the breathing room of an economy that might be back on the upswing.  Entrepreneurs tend to share this trait:  We’re optimists.  That’s a gift that gets us going in the morning, that spurs our creativity and our willingness to take risk and do new things, that keeps us going in hard times.  Its shadow side, though, is that sometimes we see things rosier than they are.

If you have put plans into place to pay off debt or “right the ship” in your financial life, stay the course, even if it looks like you’ll be out of the woods financially in just six months, or a year, or whatever you’re telling yourself.  Stick to your plan.  If you do happen to make tons of money, that’s great. But if you don’t, you’re back where you started or worse.  Great lessons are coming out of this Great Recession—financial prudence being one of them.  Take care of your financial well-being first.  If you have a chance to renegotiate a payment plan, do it.  If you have a chance to reduce your mortgage balance through negotiation, do it.  There are great opportunities here to put yourself on a better financial path for many years to come.  Entrepreneurs know how to find opportunity.  Make sure you’re finding yours, and put your long-term financial well-being on the top of that list.

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