Times are tough and the economy is sluggish. Even though gas prices are dropping and other costs holding steady, business owners may not be feeling so good about personal financial security if they've put too much into the endeavor.

The National Federation of Small Businesses saw encouraging signs recently with its Small Business Confidence Index, but how that affects day-to-day operations in the real world is still to be determined. Getting some financial tips on how to manage business banking in a stagnant economy may be just the ticket.

Get visible

Marketing is a big part of increasing brand visibility and drawing more customers. Making use of free social media can get your company noticed not just easily but cheaply – Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Foursquare are free to use, and putting your business profile on one or more will make consumers more likely to notice your brand. Surprisingly a MindLeaders study found while more than 80 percent of owners were aware they could use Facebook as a marketing tool, only one-third know about other social sites that could get them wider circulation.

Roll with the punches

If a product isn't well-received by customers, consider revising it. Asking for feedback and using it to create change in the business environment may seem difficult. Sometimes however the cost is minimal, and other times the expense is necessary in order to stay in operation.

Making mistakes and learning from them is key to progress. The Globe and Mail pointed out that some of the biggest private business owners didn't get the success they enjoy today without a few errors and corrections along the way, as the ability to recognize them and willingness to change is why Indigo Books and Music, as well as Cineplex Entertainment, Corel and Shaw Communications are still open for business.

"Work hard and be lucky," said Ellis Jacob, Cineplex Entertainment's founder. "But you have to create your own luck, too."

Concentrate on success

As the entrepreneurs who spoke with The Globe and Mail point out, it can be stressful to balance work, home and other obligations and still keep your head in the game. Taking big financial risks is part of the process for most startup owners, and financial investment advice may be crucial for keeping operations running smoothly. Finding opportunities to improve business, cut costs and learn how to be a better leader can mean the difference between solvency and collapse.

"You have to learn how things are done on the floor if you want to manage," said Frank Hasenfratz, founder of Linamar Corporation. "I only know one job where you start on top – when you dig a hole. And guess where you end up? In a hole."

Putting everything on the line may be scary, and with the NFIB showing the economy is still stagnant doesn't mean it's as bad as a few years ago when the housing bubble popped and the market went into a tailspin. Since gas prices are dropping, consumers are seeing lower expenses and may be more willing to spend on local businesses, so owners shouldn't fret in times when industry is on the slow side. Finding alternate ways to save and cope with lower revenue will help you through a sluggish period, but things will always swing back into place over time. Flexibility and adaptability can go a long way in weathering the storm.