9 things to do when your business falls on hard times

The world of business is ephemeral and difficult to predict

When your business is riding high, it can feel like you’re invincible. Profits are soaring, you’re taking on more staff, and the clients simply keep pouring in. There’s no chance things can go wrong for you, right? Unfortunately, the world of business is ephemeral and difficult to predict. You can be on top of the world one moment, and down in the gutter the next. If your business starts to struggle, don’t panic; there are always steps you can take. Here are 9 things that you can do if your business falls on hard times.

1. Take stock of your situation

It’s easy to let everything overwhelm you when your business is struggling, but the first thing you need to do is be realistic. What exactly is your situation? Rather than abstracting everything as “bad financial trouble” or doomsaying in the “everything is failing” mold, try to consider exactly what’s going wrong. Take a step back and create a detailed impression of your business at this moment. Where are the areas that need improvement? If you’re honest and thorough, this should become apparent.

2. Don’t be afraid to use your own cash

As a business owner, one of the best ways to show dedication to your business is to use your own money to keep it afloat – if you have the means, of course. Should you need a little cash to get you from day to day, you might want to look into the possibility of taking out short-term loans online. A loan can act as a great short-term injection of cash to allow you to restore your profits to where they were, after which you can pay back the loan and get your business back on track.

3. Examine your business plan closely

Your business plan is the cornerstone of your entire operation. It’s the bible of your business, containing everything you are and everything you want to be. However, it’s not an infallible document. Your business plan is always open to change, and if you want to save your business when it falls on hard times, then changing your plan may be necessary. Remember that your business plan is never set in stone, and treating it that way might be the cause of your hardship.

4. Try new markets

Closely related to changing your business plan is venturing out into new markets and areas. If your current market is stagnating, or if the competition has suddenly become fiercer than you can cope with, then try striking out for a different arena. Don’t sell out everything your business represents; you could irreparably damage your brand by doing this. However, you should be examining every available avenue into which you could branch out to shore up some success.

5. Have difficult conversations with staff

It is always, always better to keep staff apprised of developments than to keep them in the dark. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taught many employers that they need to have difficult conversations with their staff, and even as things tentatively return to normal, you will need to bear those lessons in mind. Think about it from their perspective. Would you rather hear the truth and deal with it accordingly, or be lied to and then suddenly have your life shattered?

6. Be proactive

If the clients aren’t coming to you, then it’s time for you to go to the clients. Be aggressive in how you chase business and pursue leads. Don’t let anything slip past your notice and cling on to the tiniest possibility. It might seem desperate, but if your situation is dire, then this is one of the only ways to make a comeback. That doesn’t mean you should pester or badger potential clients, but it does mean chasing up any lead you acquire with persistence and diligence.

7. Streamline and make improvements

As part of examining your overall business operation, you should be thinking about how best to streamline your business. This doesn’t have to mean letting employees go – that should be your last resort, as these are people with livelihoods. Instead, try thinking about how to reduce travel time or lower travel costs, how to delegate tasks to third parties, or how to improve your company’s technology usage so that you’re spending less on costly repairs.

8. Set realistic goals

“I’m going to get my business out of this mess” isn’t necessarily a positive attitude to have. Instead, you should be thinking short-term and small-time. What can you do right now, in this instant, to help your business? How can you implement a plan for the next few days, the next few weeks, or the next few months? By sweating the small stuff, you’ll get back to the mentality that made you a go-getting entrepreneur in the first place. You don’t necessarily need to make everything your problem, but keep it all on your radar.

9. Keep taking (some) risks

The last thing you want for your business is stagnation. While it’s true that sometimes taking risks can put you in perilous situations, risks can also pay off. No business ever grew without taking risks, so make sure you keep an adventurous spirit. Of course, you probably shouldn’t be taking big gambles right now, but keep seeking out unconventional clients or sources of business. That could be what elevates you out of the doldrums and into the realms of success once again.

The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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