Despite what the media might have you believe, there’s no such thing as a relentless business success story. No business has ever grown from an acorn to an oak tree without a few growing pains along the way. In business terms, those growing pains usually mean periods of financial struggle. If you’re experiencing them right now, don’t feel like a failure. Some of the most celebrated business people in the world have gone bankrupt, and bounced back. If you’re skilled and determined, there’s always a second chance if you’re ready to fight for it.
Things needn’t get that far, though. If you’re still trading, you’re still in with a chance of turning things around without having to scrap everything and go back to the drawing board. The advice we’re about outline below isn’t a guarantee of getting your ailing business back on its feet, but it might just provide the push in the right direction that you need. Chances are, in the stress and worry about where the business is headed, you’re overlooking something important. We hope that this article helps to bring it back into focus for you.
Take Back Control
Whatever you took your hands off, put them back on. One of the critical mistakes people make when a small business begins to grow is to hand over control of the critical parts of the business too early. The Harvard Business Review warns that too much delegation can be a bad thing, and we’re inclined to agree with them. It’s understandable that you, as the person in charge, want to take on a presidential role and look at the bigger picture. Chances are, though, you were once the best salesperson your company had. You probably still are. Get your hands dirty again. Get back on the floor, lead by example, and take back some of the duties you’ve given away. The big picture can wait, because if you don’t sort out the smaller-scale stuff, it’s going to cease to exist.
Cut Back Without Sentiment
If you’re hemorrhaging money, people are probably going to have to lose their jobs. We’re sorry. It’s an inevitability, and it’s a risk you took on when you set up a business and became an employer. There’s a saying that comes from the world of gambling and mobile slots – you shouldn’t ever throw good money after bad. Anyone who understands mobile slots also understands the law of percentages, and knows when the game they’re playing has paid out as much as it’s going to pay during that session. Putting any more money into online slots on online casinos and their sister sites when there’s nothing coming out is just wasting it. You have to know when to stop paying and walk away. If you can’t see any prospect of an immediate turnaround from the staff you’re paying a salary to, cut them loose. If you’re not willing to get rid of people who aren’t performing or offer no value, then everyone will lose their job when the ship goes down. You only pay what you can afford, and when there’s a chance of getting a better return. It’s true of mobile slots, and it’s true of business.
Prioritize What Works
Imagine you had a cake shop. You sell coffee cakes, and lemon drizzle cakes. Every week, you sell five hundred coffee cakes, and ten lemon drizzle cakes. It costs you the same amount in terms of time and money to make both types of cake, so you’re technically making a loss on the lemon drizzle cake, and the sales of the coffee cakes are covering that loss. Why would you carry on selling the lemon drizzle cakes? You wouldn’t. Now apply this to your business. Which parts of it are making money, and which aren’t? Can you ditch a product, or department? Would the business be profitable if that product or department wasn’t there? If so, act swiftly and cut it now. You should always make your core business a priority when times are hard.
Sell The Plan
If you’re panicking, your staff can see it. They know when things aren’t going well, and they fear for their jobs. They’ll look to you for leadership and motivation. If you have a plan for recovery, don’t keep it to yourself. Be honest and realistic with your staff, tell them where you are, and tell them what needs to happen. Talk them through the recovery plan, and explain to them why it’s going to work. You’ll find that your employees will work harder if they believe they’re saving the business by doing so. You might even find them volunteering for overtime, and going the extra mile without being asked to. This will only work if they can see, understand, and believe in your plan, though. If you don’t have a plan, then it’s time to shut down before things get any worse.
Go To The Root
Sometimes, the problem you’re presented with isn’t the true problem the business faces. A common example in a small business might be that the sales team isn’t generating enough income. The logical response might be to fire some of the sales team, scale back the department, or look again at your products. What if it’s none of those things, though? What if it’s the leads? If the leads are no good, the best sales force in the world would be no use to you. You don’t know how good or bad the leads are unless you’ve investigated them yourself, so have you done that? Feedback is your friend here. You might have your own opinion of why things aren’t going to plan, but if you’re only basing that opinion on spreadsheets and feedback from your senior staff, you might not be getting the full picture. Talk to everybody. Survey your customers. Find out what’s going well, and what isn’t. Only when you have all the information can you make a detailed recovery plan.
Above all else, don’t be afraid of the worst happening. Ideas sometimes fail. Businesses sometimes fail, too. People never do. If you have it in you to make it as a business person, your time will come again. Learn what you can from the situation you’re in, and carry it into the future.