A Bad Time to Realize Your Business is in Trouble

We’re noticing some trends lately. They indicate that people are scared. And it is hurting businesses all over. We deal primarily with startups and very small businesses. We’re seeing the impact first hand across a full spectrum of industries. A few are growing as they replace more costly options. Many are collapsing completely, most are just struggling to maintain. And it is very discouraging as a business consultant, to keep encountering those who are past the point of being able to help them, because they didn’t choose to act when change would have been simple, and now the issues are compounded so big, and the resources so drained that there isn’t anything to be done anymore.

I’m no alarmist, and I never try to look at the bad side of things. I try to honestly assess what is happening, to figure out why, and to figure out what to do about it. I can’t control the economy. I can’t make people buy my product. I can’t provide costly services to businesses that are in trouble so deep that they can’t afford even a $100 marketing consultation to get them turned around. But I can control my own actions in regards to my business, and I can develop an understanding of what is going on so I can help more than just myself, and so it does not have to become a crisis to us.

Over a year ago, we began advising businesses to pay attention to trends. If they experienced more than two months of non-seasonal down-trends, they should be ready with a plan in place to implement and take action to counteract the influence of external forces on their business, as far as possible.

But some have not noticed until it was too late – either they weren’t tracking, or they failed to measure this year’s returns against yearly norms. When they finally noticed, they were deep into a slump that was so bad, they had no resources left with which to respond.

I think it is normal to want to believe that things are going to turn any day. I think it is normal to not want to have to take action if the trends are not steep and dramatic. So a business can gradually lose ground and the owner doesn’t notice until it is really in trouble.

If your business is in trouble now, you are not alone. But it is also unquestionably worse to have a business in trouble now than it was a year ago. Resources are stretched tighter, credit is harder to get, and people are less responsive to changes to advertising – they’ve been seeing it for a year.

Last year, layoffs were starting, and people were on unemployment. Now, unemployment is running out, and more people are being layed off. That fact alone is enough to help us to know that the worst is not over at all. The worst hasn’t even hit yet. Again, I’m not an alarmist, nor am I a pessimist. In fact, I am an optimist, but I don’t approach things without a healthy dose of reality.

I think the real issue is this…

It is getting worse. And it is going to get MUCH worse. That isn’t speculation. That is based on very solid facts. The government can’t fix it. So far the efforts have made it worse, not better, and the only thing we are hearing is that they plan to do more of the same.

What are you going to do to survive it? How are you going to adjust your business, your life, and your plans, to cope with a world where hunger becomes your next door neighbor instead of just a distant rumor? How are you going to prepare yourself to be a giver instead of a taker in times of hardship?

If your business is in trouble, what can you do now? Don’t delay figuring that out or you won’t have a business. Act early, not late. Don’t feel like acting early is pessimism, it isn’t, it is wisdom.

The strategies are basic:

1. Reduce Debt.

2. Reduce Expenses.

3. Make sure the things you are paying for are paying you back.

4. Analyze your marketing and make sure your marketing dollars are effective.

5. Find out what you can do that doesn’t cost, that actually WORKS, to promote your business effectively.

6. Listen to your customers. They are changing. How are they changing, and how can you help to continue to meet their needs?

Don’t wait until it is too late to respond. The stupidity of corporate bungling on the part of big business may lead you to believe that there will be a bail out of some kind for you if your business crashes. There won’t be. And for the most part, the rest of the world won’t even know you are gone. It is your responsibility to act wisely, NOW, to respond before you are in a crisis so bad there is no more hope.

Please assess the health of your business, honestly and completely. Look for the problem areas that could torpedo you and get them in order. The ability to act early, and wisely, is going to separate those who survive from those who don’t.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.