According to the SBA, over 50% of small businesses fail in the first five years, and 1 out of 10 make it to year 10. These same pressures hold true for hundreds of Fortune 1000 corporations who have either declared bankruptcy or filed reorganizations during the past five years. So, what do companies who make it past year 10 have that the others don’t?

Here are four questions they know the answers to that help them stand out and thrive during the most difficult of times:

1. Who do you want to communicate with? Knowing your precise target audience seems like a no-brainer, I’m sure, but it’s amazing how many companies try and communicate with “Everyone” thinking this will increase their chances of success. Instead, focus on the specific target market and audience that will make a difference in your business growth.

2. What do they know about us? Before you put one message into the marketplace you need to determine what your prospects already know about you. This simple exercise can save you months of missteps.

3. What do you want them to know? Trying to get your prospects to know everything about you in the first few moments is the equivalent of meeting someone for the first time and starting to tell them about your early childhood! Start where they are and let them know the things that will make them comfortable in continuing the conversation.

4. What do you want them to do? Of course, your end game is to convert your prospects into customers, but the question is what steps would you like them to take in this decision-making process. Hint: it should meet their needs first and foremost.

Having the answers to these four simple questions – along with your strategic prioritized agenda – will place you on the path of not only surviving a recession but thriving in one.