If you’re a business owner, then you know how rewarding it can be to run your own business. When your employees are working in tandem to create the vision you originally planned when you embarked on this venture and everything’s moving as it should be, there are few things more satisfying. Every moment that this is happening is a moment you feel glad you left your 9 to 5 and chased your dream.
However, running a business isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There will inevitably be moments where the job is more difficult than it initially seemed. Running into roadblocks, having star employees headhunted by other companies or simply hitting a bad month for profits are all things employers and small business owners have to deal with on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Here are our tips on how to bring your business out of a rough spot.
The first thing you need to do is look at your priorities. That issue that’s been bugging you for a few months might be annoying, but it’s probably not the root cause of your business’s rough patch. Talk to your employees, go over your books obsessively and watch day-to-day operations to spot exactly what the issue that’s causing your rough patch is, then prioritise it. Does your business need some money? Look into alternative sources of cash flow that don’t depend on your profits, like a good-quality loan or an injection from your savings. Do you need to look at your staff roll to see if someone’s underperforming? It’s a tough talk, but it needs to be done. Whatever the issue, make it your number one priority until the business is OK again.
Talk to your staff
The last thing your staff will want from you if the business is suffering is silence. They need to know what’s going on; the more your staff are kept in the loop, the harder they’ll work knowing that there’s more riding on it than just a performance review. Besides, you never know where the next great idea could come from. One of your staff members might be manager material, and might have some great ideas to bring your business out of the doldrums, so talking to them can only be beneficial. Of course, you don’t need to spill everything, because your staff don’t want to be overloaded with information. Hold meetings and deliver concise summaries of the problems and your plan for solving them.
Reallocate funds and save money
Do you really need a marketing department that large? Do you have two very similar roles in a department which could conceivably be merged, thus saving you a yearly salary to pay? Are you consistently ordering more stock than your company needs? There are always places to look if you want to downsize a little, especially with a small business which might not be running as smoothly as a larger corporation. Money that’s being spent on an underperforming department, or promoting an unpopular product, could be better used elsewhere to prop up aspects of the company that aren’t doing so well until a more concrete plan can be implemented.
Act now – don’t sit on it
It might be tempting, especially if you’re on the cusp of what is usually a busy period for your company, to say “well, we’ll see how things are in a few weeks or months”. That’s a very, very bad idea, and it might cost people their jobs. If you identify a problem, you need to act right now to solve it. You might not be able to literally magic the problem away overnight, but you can definitely implement procedures and talk to people who can help you understand how to come up with a solution. Whatever you do, don’t think the problem will go away on its own. After all, you created the business from scratch and got it to where it is – good things didn’t come to you from scratch, so why would problems go away without your immediate intervention?
Don’t prophesy doom
If your business is experiencing trouble, you must remain positive throughout the entire experience. Do be realistic – it’s no good thinking that a solution will magically solve the problem, or that one minor windfall means an upturn. Don’t, however, prophesy doom and think pessimistically. Some people think that pessimists are realists, and in some cases that’s true, but when it comes to your business a negative attitude will show through whether you want it to or not. If you don’t believe in your business, then nobody else will, and that’s how businesses fail – not solely through poor financial decisions or human error, but because faith and hope in the company simply faltered.