The answer to the question “So how is business?” depends on the period of time being referenced. The time frame could be last year, this month, this quarter, or any specified time.
For businesses struggling with uncertainty in a challenging economy, an even better metric might be “the next two to three years”, or possibly even further out. Depending on the longer term outlook for a business, the case for sticking it out through tough times is better made.
If the long term outlook is favorable then persevering through temporary economic weakness is an easier decision to make. The question then becomes not so much this month, this quarter, or even this year.