The downside of the business cycle is again rearing its head, and one doesn’t need to look far to find business media flooded with negative economic news. While it’s not inevitable, all signs point to an impending reduction in growth around the world and a likely recession in the near future. We have no way of knowing how long this economic downturn might last, or how it might affect our organizations, yet CFOs need to be preparing today for whatever we expect to come.

So, picture the CFO of a midsize company—a business too small to directly influence the market in which it operates, but large enough that a downturn in revenue would have a substantial impact on its owners, employees, and other stakeholders. That CFO is currently trying to decide whether the organization can afford to make investments to support future growth, whether the business can survive the approaching economic turbulence, and whether the company needs to act now to avert harsh impacts of a slowdown before it happens.

It helps to remember that none of these decisions is new. Many CFOs have taken on that role since the last major downturn, but anyone who has worked in finance for a couple of decades will remember the early 2000s and the 2008–2010 challenges, against which the next two years will surely be compared.

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