Business is a daily minefield of customers, employees and suppliers all with different and often competing demands for limited resources. Add to this the need to keep up with technology, competitors and new developments within the industry and it is no wonder that maintaining a balance in business can be very difficult.
With so many elements to juggle, often a business can be heading in a downward direction long before it becomes obvious to owners or management. If you find that business is indeed heading the wrong way, here are some tips to help manage and survive the downturn while turning business around.
1. Accept the reality of the situation.
It is not always easy to admit that as an owner or manager that the business is indeed not performing to expectations. By being realistic and accepting the reality of what is going on, it will be much easier to begin the turnaround process.
2. Seek help from those with more experience.
This is not a time to try and solve problems all alone. Talk with other owners or managers that may have been through a similar situation – what did they do and why? What worked and what didn’t? What area of the business should the focus be on? Another option is to consider engaging experts in turnaround management. There are firms (like Kestrel Solutions) that are experienced experts in the business turnaround process and in stressful times, this experience (and objectivity) can be invaluable.
3. Take immediate action steps to stop the downward momentum.
Speed of action is something that can be critical – don’t wait for the wolves to appear at the door. After accepting the situation and seeking expert help, make a real effort to stop any further decline as soon as possible. Start to take proactive and positive steps immediately.
4. Decide what needs to be done first, second, third.
Part of the proactive process of taking action is planning out what needs to be done and getting on with it. Decide the first area to be dealt with, deal with it and move onto the next. Be systematic in dealing with the issues and it is amazing how quickly momentum will build and things will start to improve.
5. Keep your mind and attitude strong.
Dealing with a business downturn is never easy and there are bound to be some casualties along the way – employees, suppliers etc. It is important to keep a strong mind and not allow emotions to become overwhelming. Empathy can still be demonstrated at all times, but keep strong.
6. Create systems to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Revisit business plans and setup the necessary systems, checks and measures to ensure that the business is not put in this position again. After going through the turnaround process it will become apparent what areas of the business were really weak and what needs to be improved. Work diligently to fill all the gaps and implement the necessary systems.
7. Be prepared for surprises along the way.
Some of the surprises may be pleasant, others may not. Whenever you are dealing with a difficult situation, it is amazing how it can bring out the good and the bad in others. This will undoubtedly happen, so be prepared and don’t let the surprises interfere with the turnaround process. Hopefully there will be more good than bad like creditors that extend credit or employees willing to forgo overtime. Be prepared also for some surprises within the business operations itself. These may be extremely important in helping to identify underlying problems and issues contributing to the downturn.
In all, surviving a business downturn will be a difficult, challenging and no doubt exhausting time. The good news is that if turnaround management is done the right way, the business will come out the other side well equipped to deal with the future. It will also be in a much better position to prosper and thrive for a long time to come.