This morning’s article, The Strong Get Stronger In Recession, tells the story of how cash-rich companies can not only survive an economic downturn, but also stomp the competition in the same time. The article itself focuses more on the likes of IBM, Cisco, Apple, etc. But if you read between the lines, the concept is applicable to any company in any industry. And frankly, it’s not a new concept. But it’s important to review.

Let’s spread this concept really thin, and make it applicable to everybody.

APARTMENT RENTER: Let’s say you rent an apartment, but you have 15-20% for a down payment on a house, your credit is good, and you have have enough income to make a payment on a 30-year fixed mortgage. So while some folks are looking at foreclosure, you can be looking to buy, with historically low housing prices. You just won in a tough economy.

HOUSEHOLD GOODS BUYER: We all buy stuff. We buy stuff we want, and stuff we need. As companies increase discounts on their products for sale, this may be a good time to look at the things you buy on a regular basis, and stock up for the future… You’re ‘buying low’ and ‘using high.’

AUTO DEALER: Granted, your sales have likely dropped 20-40% over the last year. But if you are lucky enough to not be going out of business, AND you have wisely saved for a rainy day, this is a GREAT time to keep your business name out there, to not only maintain awareness of your brand, but to also become top of mind. Have you noticed how FEW car ads have been on TV / Radio recently? What a great time to advertise your company as the long-term, well-established, confident survivor with the best products and fastest service.

THE PERSON WHO IS FLAT BROKE: Okay, so you have no house, you are living at the in-laws, there’s no money to eat out anymore, you haven’t seen a movie at the theater in years, and Santa will be bringing exactly zero presents this year… First of all, I am really sorry. Things will get better. Second, what a great time to expose yourself and your children to the wonderful world of Volunteering! Help out at your kids’ school. Lend a hand at the food pantry. Or help to organize some neighbors to clean up the neighborhood. Either way, you will expose yourself to priceless experiences, you’ll learn more about your own likes, dislikes and talents, and you just might meet the person who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who is looking to hire someone just like You for big bucks. (This has happened to me a few times, so I know it to be true.)

For many people right now things are tough, and looking icky for a while. If that’s you, take a look at who you are as a person, for you will never lose that, and make the most of it. Start a new chapter, cut bait, move on, and challenge yourself to come out of this tunnel as a champion.

If you’re a company who is merely feeling the pinch a little bit, but you have room (cash) to “buy low” and increase your awareness or top-of-mind in the marketplace, this might be a good time to do just that. Better yet, consider investing some of your cash reserves in community programs that solicit volunteers to aid community projects. For those volunteers will win with the experience, and your company will win with good-will, strong values, and better community awareness in the long run.