Cutting advertising to try to save money is a road to credit crunch failure, a meeting of business leaders was told.
Ian Johnson of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce was speaking at a business survival seminar at the launch of the new Regus business centre at Kings Hill, West Malling.
He urged businesses to make cost savings by saving on printing, stationery, and creative thinking, but said marketing and advertising should not be cut back.
He said: "If we are not in a recession I would say we must be pretty close to it.
"Why do businesses go broke? They go broke because they run out of the money and why do they run out of money? Because they spend it faster than they earn it. There is no rocket science, no mystery, that is what happens."
"Tell your staff how it is. Be straight and ask them to be brilliant with the basics. Be really creative, break some long-lasting patterns. But don't cut advertising.
"The economy is, after all, a cycle. When it is improving we are going to be leaner, meaner and stronger."
He stressed the importance of business plans, cash forecasting, managing debtors and customer care. And he urged businesses to increase contact with existing customers, and listen to how the slump was affecting them.
He also said companies should seek advice from business help groups if they needed it.
Nick Rowell, from the Portable Business School, Maidstone and David DiCara, from Tonbridge's Customer Care Clinic were also among speakers at seminars at the launch of the 87 new Regus serviced offices and eight meeting rooms.
David Knott, general manager of the business centre, Regus Maidstone, said the economic situation had worked in favour of serviced offices, as some firms were reluctant to take on large long term property commitments.
Over 50 per cent of offices had now been let, some to new firms and also to established firms interested in expanding into Kent.
He said: "It is going very well. There has been quite a lot of demand so far. We have dealt with between 30 and 50 inquiries a month.
"We are finding the economic situation is going in our favour."