How to deal with a struggling business?

- January 20, 2016 3 MIN READ

It’s a simple reality. No business is immune from failure. Just because a business has been strong in the past, doesn’t mean that it will remain that way in the future. As a business owner you will understand that business can go up and down. So what can you do when business is down and you find yourself with little or no prospects in your pipeline?

Here are five suggestions to help you turn your business around.

1. Just three things
You have to get moving. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then start small. I would encourage you to find just three things you can start to work on now. One of my favourite sayings is ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ Break tasks down to small ‘bite sized’ pieces.

2. Cash flow
When struggling, it is easier not to look you cash flow. In fact, it is easier not to look at your bank accounts or simply not to go to the mailbox! You can be making profit, but can always be finding yourself in cash gaps. To solve this, you need to know where you are at and the only way to do that is to have a cash flow projection. This is a working document that you do up yourself so that at any point in time in your business, you know where your money is. Start with projected incomes and expenses with their due dates in order. As the month progresses, put in the actual numbers and update as payments go in and out. This will be painful when you first start using it, especially if more is going out than coming in, but you need to look at and update this document – DAILY if required.

3. Know your numbers
Too many small business owners think they have to find masses of new customers to turn their business around and this is simply not the case. Start with the how much ‘extra’ you need each month. Divide this by the average dollar amount a customer spends with you. This will tell you how many new/more customers you need.

For example, if you need an extra $2,000/month and the average customer spends $100, then you need 20 more customers or around one per day. It is much easier to think in terms of customers to help, than a dollar amount. It also turns your focus onto your customers rather than stressing about money. You can take these numbers one step further and work out how many prospects you need to get customers. If your conversion rate is 50 per cent, then you would need to speak to two prospects a day in our example. Knowing your numbers will help you keep focussed.

4. Know who your customer is
With a pen and paper, work out who your best customers are. Write everything you can about them. Then write how you can help them and where you can find them. There is power in pen to paper. The more you understand your customers, the easier it is to find them. It also helps you to focus on who you can serve or help to find more customers.

5. Work!
In the end, it will take work to turn your struggling business around. Really monitor how you are using your time and making sure that it is productive work. A great tip is to set an alarm to go off every hour. When it goes off, just stop and ask yourself ‘Is what I am doing right now, the best use of my time?’ If it is, then continue on. If not, then stop and start something that is. Business is simply not fun when it is a struggle day in, day out. If you are struggling emotionally, not just in business, then make sure you ask for help. Asking for help is one of the best things you can do. I’ve watched many business owners turn their struggling business around, but it took some time, work and focus. You can do it too.

Tracey Leak is a business coach, author and speaker. 

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