As the economic slowdown continues to affect industries of all kinds, many small-business owners have cost-cutting measures in mind. These are moments where cost cuts should be handled with caution.

The 80/20 rule of thumb in business holds true during economic slowdowns; 80% of your income will usually come from 20% of the clients or customers. It may be easy to consider streamlining or cutting some customer service staff, but you should only do so if quality of service won’t be affected.

If you can staff certain hours or positions personally without damaging the experience of clients and customers, then by all means work those extra hours. But never do so if the reduced customer service will drive your most loyal customers elsewhere. Remember, during times when consumers are more aware of their wallets, they will vote more with their dollars.

Peter Pham, CEO, BillShrink writes in BusinessWeek