As usual, the temptation is filling the article with a lot of business jargon, like Turnaround, Cashflow Management, Change Management, LEAN structures and so on and so forth.
Whilst all that is important, where does one start when you are in the thick of things. You know “Cash is King”, you know you should have “Sustained Margins”, you know the DRILL, you get all this…………., but, it’s all pointless in your current situation.
With the understanding that you are not alone and every business, during the course of its existence, will encounter a near-death experience – Let’s cut through the jargon, simplify it and get back to basics:
1. Analyse the Position Honestly
“Correct and Unbiased Diagnosis Before any treatment or surgery is prescribed” – isn’t that what we expect from our medical experts. The expectation shouldn’t be any different in this context. In fact, it should be more important here. After all, the business is your livelihood and helps pay for those medical bills.
So, when you realize the business is slipping or is in trouble, take a step back (painful but it is the need of the hour). Take a good, hard look at your company to evaluate and assess what is going wrong. You can’t take action without knowing where to start and push through towards future success.
2. Reassess the Strategy
After analysing the position, chances are you would have found where you are going wrong (or at least some idea of it). Resolve to push through or give up; this decision should be on merit – emotions and logic both play a role here. Ideally, an independent party overlooking this process will yield a better outcome. So seek external help from someone who has run a business before.
Regardless, It’s now time to go Back to Strategy Planning – with a fresh take on what we had discussed in the article on How Do You Approach Strategy Planning in Today’s Agile Business Environment? This will give you confidence in taking the right direction.
If you do decide to push through; the way in which you approach the failures at this stage is going to be key to a successful TURNAROUND (There you go, I used it – couldn’t help it). This is the single most important step in surviving a crisis in the business — but also a hard one when you are alone and so intertwined with the day-to-day firefighting.
3. Evaluate the People and Their Roles
In these highly volatile situations, the default focus invariably goes to resources and objects that don’t talk back and retaliate; (you know what I am talking about!!!) the problem is usually directed towards software, hardware, and any other object/s in close proximity to the business.
The best businesses are run conviction and heaps of creative and constructive criticism and arguments – they have a soul.
The most important assets in any business are its people – your employees. When your company seems to be slipping away and failing; re-evaluate not just your strategy, but those who need to execute it. Restructure, invigorate and If necessary, get rid of those who are slowing you down, and hire those who can help revive the business.
It may sound selfish, ruthless and harsh, but from a logical point of view; Your first priority is the business and its stakeholders. Employees being significant stakeholders in any business, their well being and future direction is your responsibility; leading them on, in a position they are not suited in, undermines this responsibility and wastes their time in finding a suited environment and role.
4. Be Humble – Eliminate Pride and Fear
As you evaluate the people and their roles, you cannot escape a bit of self-reflection and the role you played in getting here. WHO?? ME?? WHEN?? NAH…………… can’t be, surely……. – well you own the business, run the show, lead the team!
None of us set out to fail, but in reality, we all fail at some point in our lives. Some failures are small and some big. Business failures are typically prone to a lot of EGO and stubbornness. We are tuned to bottle things up and show brave facades until it’s too late and solutions become harder to implement and inevitably come at a higher cost.
Rather than putting on a game face or playing the blame game – which serves no one – look to your stakeholders and, as Business Owners, CEOs or Business Leaders, take responsibility and show genuine humility. Rebuild and invigorate the organization with renewed energy. Thinking any other way, not willing to change, sticking to preconceived ideas of what you think will work is almost certainly a recipe for disaster.
Ego and Pride are both forms of fear. Get rid of them both, no one really cares about your current position apart from your immediate stakeholders. Taking care of them is all that matters – remember you are one of them. Remember, anyone outside this circle, “The Rest” are playing their own game with their own issues and putting on brave facades. You can buck the trend.
If it gets hard to go it alone, get HELP! Sounding boards in the form of professionals who have run businesses are likely to see things from an unbiased perspective away from the storm. As much as practicable, Delegate tasks to others who are capable and competent of them within the business. This will enable you to focus ON the task of reviving rather than IN the eye of the storm.
5. Importantly, Don’t Lose Your Passion, Hunger and Focus
It may be hard, but push through and dig deep to rekindle the passion which got you to start the business in the first place. It will help you to keep going.
Passion may be the fuel you need to reignite that fire, which may not always come with the voice of reason. And this is where an external eye helps.
A few painful sacrifices now may be “the stitch in time……”.Pick up the phone and get someone on your side to keep you on track while you execute.
The question therefore is, how does a business owner effectively step back and evaluate whilst in the “eye of the storm” and in seemingly overwhelming crisis?