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How To Turn Around A Failing Business

Mar 10, 2008
No-one likes to fail. In these past few months I have watched as a few otherwise great businesses have folded. But what could have been done to turn the business around from disaster.

What does the owner really want?

This is the hardest part - if the owner is ambivalent at best about the business, they are not sure if they really want to be there, then no business intervention will work as well as it could.

The first step is to help the owner be totally clear on what they want to do. Do they want to sell the business, stay in the business or just close up and walk away?

This is much harder than it sounds. I have heard business owners say "of course I want to stay in business" but their actions then promptly derail all of their good work.

Until the owner is honest about what they truly want, can own their emotional response about it and put things into action, the business will continue to fail. (Remember - no decision is a decision to fail. Then they can blame anyone else except their own approach).

Vision and direction

If the business owner truly wants to remain, the business then needs a clear direction and vision to head towards. Without this clear vision, then there will be wasted effort and double handling.

Business basics

Go back to the basics and do a review of the building blocks of your business.

* Competition analysis: Go back and review what your competition is doing well and not so well.

* Suppliers: Do you have the best suppliers with the best trading terms? If not - change them.

* Employees: Do you have the right people, with the right skills doing the right thing at the right time for the right pay? What are their ideas for improving the business?

* Customers: What do your customers think about your business? Ask for feedback and act on the results.

* Money: How is your cash flow? Do you need to improve your outstanding debtors' processes and trading terms? Can you reduce overheads and expenses?

* Marketing: Are you tracking your ROI on your marketing? Is it working? What do you need to do to improve it further?

* Alliances: Are your alliance relationships working? Do you need to source new alliances?

* Communication: Are your communication lines with employees and customers clear, effective and regular. What messages are you communicating?

* Systems and processes: Are your systems and processes documented, regular and implemented first time every time or are you wasting time reinventing the wheel every day?

* Time management: Are you investing your time on time wasters or profit builders? Do you do what matters on time every time for your customers and employees?

Turning a failing business around is possible - you just need to be willing to take the hard look at what got you there in the first place and then act on it before it gets out of hand.
About the Author
Ingrid Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter, Business Development and Human Resources Consultant to Small Businesses with her business Heart Harmony. Ingrid writes a free weekly small business newsletter and Small Business Ideas blog for small businesses.www.heartharmony.com.au
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