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Forrest’s momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” If today’s economy was a piece of chocolate candy, you’d take one bite and spit it out like an orange crème. Yuck.

But you’re boxed in. You can’t ignore what’s happening to Ms. Jones’ jobless rate or interest rate or consumer confidence level. You can’t ignore it or fix it or change it, either. How do you do business as usual in these decidedly unusual days?

Try thinking out of the box. Step outside your industry and look for good ideas you can adapt. Study your personal experience at the places you go and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Why did you leave your dry cleaner smiling? What did your lawn guy do that made you recommend him to your neighbor? How did your waitress earn a bigger tip? Why will you never go back to your mechanic? Can you translate any of these flips or faux pas to your business?

Read a banking trade mag or a restaurant journal. Talk to a plumber or a lawyer.

Who knows? You just might open a Pandora’s box full of things you never thought of before.

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