Many of you reading this article do not need your business turned around, but stay tuned because you are about to learn some things that will really help you. On the other hand, some of you are struggling to find a knot in the rope, hold on and just make it through the day - this article is written just for you.
As I write this, I am thinking about a client that needs a turn around. Heck, they need a “inside-out turn around.” When they came to me about two months ago they were way past ready to shut their doors. In fact, they could barely even find a door to close. Below are some actions that we took immediately to stop the bleeding and turn the ship around.
Some of the actions below may seem basic but when you are just trying to survive day-to-day they are HUGE.
#1 - Get cash flow under control - I have found it extremely important to get a complete understanding of what debts and bills are out there - past due and coming due. Then once this list is known, get it in date order so you know when these payments need to be made. It is also important to change the mindset that thinks it is okay to pay bills late or by the “grace deadline”. Then get an accounting system set up or fix the one in place. The client I am writing about really didn’t have one - that may shock you but many business owners run their businesses by what the bank account tells them.
#2 - Ramp up the marketing and FOCUS on closing sales - When A business needs to be turned around most often they need cash - and they NEED it yesterday. Therefore, creating a marketing plan, actually working the plan and training the sales team to close sales is life or death. Lastly, a tracking system monitoring what marketing efforts are taking place and how many sales are being closed is like food to a starving person. You have to know what is happening - good or bad. With this client we put a big calendar on the wall for the small marketing and sales team to log their results. Everyone can see just what is happening and if the goals are being hit.
#3 - Hire good people, and get rid of the bad apples - This client and business type lives and dies by customer satisfaction. Without it they close up for sure. Having well trained and committed employees is critical. When you need staff to get the job done you are tempted to keep those that don’t do that great of a job and hire just about anyone. With the success of the above marketing and sales efforts they were tempted to do just that. However, I had to teach them to hire slow and fire fast.
#4 - Put processes in place to make decision making easier - this is the magic that makes the business run like a well-oiled machine. I am a believer that most any routine action in a business can be put in a systematic process. This line of thinking is different for most business owners, and for those that are just trying to survive they most often think they are silly. But I promise you without them you will always be struggling and frustrated.