What to do if your business is tanking? by Anne Day of @companyofwomen

What do you do when your business is failing?

by Anne Day

The economy has changed, bringing with it a cold wind that is gusting through your industry, creating havoc wherever it goes.

Scary times. In interviewing women for the One Red Lipstick book, several had faced their share of challenges, and I observed that their strategies were similar. Here’s what they did:

Do the math
As Anastasia Valentine pointed out, often we hang on too long to a favorite project or program because we love doing it, not really crunching the numbers to see if it is in fact making us money. Track your figures. You may have to get brutal and cut that service out or find a more economical way to deliver it.

Marsha Friedman took charge of her budget to make sure that they weren’t spending more than was coming into the business. That sounds like common sense but not everyone does that and when times change, so too do your finances. Look at your cash flow. Are there times in the year when you need something else to carry you over?

Check the numbers
Do they make sense or does something not add up? As Michele Bailey found to her expense, when there are few checks and balances in place, it is all too easy for an employee to steal from you. Her key staff person put her business in serious jeopardy and was later charged with fraud and embezzlement

What do you do well?
Maybe it is time to step back and ask yourself some tough questions. Dig deep and look at what you are currently doing. Ask yourself what your niche market is? What do you do better than anyone else in your industry and what could you eliminate because it is a time and money guzzler? Wendy Buchanan found that once she’d discovered her niche and stuck to it, her business just grew in leaps and bounds.

Back to basics
Look at why you started the business in the first place. Revisit your business plan. You may have forgotten some of your big picture ideas. Andreea Ayers realized she didn’t want to build an empire, particularly not when her children were little, so she turned down a big opportunity that came her way. The timing wasn’t right.

Cut back on staffing
This is a tough one. No one likes to let people go. Check on legal requirements before you proceed. Linda Lundstrom shared how heartbreaking that was for her when she had to declare bankruptcy and let everyone go.

Talk to your suppliers
Have a conversation with your suppliers. See if you can work out a different deal with them. As Wendy Buchanan points out in the book, they are as important as your customers, it behooves you to treat them well.

Stay positive
I know easier said than done. This is a test of your tenacity and persistence.

As Harriet Beecher Stowe said:

When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”


Anne Day Company of WomenAnne Day is the editor of One Red Lipstick, a book which shares stores of 24 women entrepreneurs from across North America. The book comes out March 8, International Women’s Day – check www.oneredlipstick.com and is available on www.amazon.ca.

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