A portrait of the Dow on Oct. 24.


Seemingly everywhere you look is more bad news about the economy; not only are stock prices whipping up and down like a yo-yo in the hands of a distracted child, but the U.S. shed 159,000 jobs last month, the biggest decline in five years. It might seem like the economy is headed into a terrible decline, but believe it or not, there is a silver lining. Several of them, in fact.

Time to change old habits.During the boom, when customers were flooding into retail stores with money to burn, it would have been pretty difficult to notmake money. But all that success can hide some fundamental flaws in your business model -- flaws that canonlybe hidden when business is booming. With business slowing down, now is the perfect opportunity to figure out what is working and what isn't, and make the changes necessary. Remember, every business is seeing tough times right now. It's the ones that adapt and survive that will help shape the future of the segment.

It's almost over.Experts and industry leaders seem to agree on two things: this is the worst housing downturn in recent memory, and the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the year, at business events around the country, leading executives in the flooring industry have estimated that 2009 will start soft but slowly pick up steam. Additionally, recent reports indicate that in some areas of the country, the housing market is starting to move again. No, it won't be the same numbers seen during the height of the boom, but at least it's a sign of optimism (and growth) ahead.

We're in this together.It might be a small comfort, but it's also heartening to know that there isn't one person who isn't facing tough times (and tougher decisions) right now. No one is exempt from feeling the pinch. Now is the perfect time to get out there and network with colleagues, both for support and to brainstorm. Don't be afraid to even make friends with the competition. You'll be surprised how much it can reinvigorate your business just to hear different viewpoints, and to be reminded that we all have many of the same doubts, needs and hopes for the future.