When Should a Business Throw in the Towel?
In a departure from my usual posts, I wanted to talk about when (or if) it is time for a business to ‘throw in the towel’. In spite of the negative title, the post is aiming to be supportive, and positive, helping your business to be successful.
Small Business Support
I support small businesses, it is what I do, I strongly believe in their importance to the fabric of society as well as to the economy. We are all observing a dramatic shift in the retail sector as businesses small and large fall prey to the predator that is online shopping. In recent years I, like you, have watched businesses cease to trade, in some cases this was a ‘fait accompli’ resulting from a catalogue of mistakes, in other cases there were factors outside the owner’s control.
Recognise the Signs
Yesterday I was contacted by a local business owner to thank me for the support I had provided as a customer. I had gladly written reviews and provided social media content for the business owner to use. He worked long and hard to make his business a success, and it grew. What happened next was a classic cliché, his work life balance became unbalanced and the negative consequences began to appear. There simply were not enough hours in a day and every hour added to his working day was an hour he couldn’t spend with his young family. He realised the cost and took action, he has sold his business.
In the early stage of growth there is often a lag as costs rise but revenue falls behind. It’s a precarious position, I have heard of cases where business owners borrow money in the belief they will be in a position to repay it, only to find they hadn’t done the research or understood the figures, their ambitions were little more than pipe-dreams.
What Could Have Happened?
Crucially as a business grows, owners need to release themselves from the tasks that could (and should) be carried out by others. ‘Free up’ the time to run the business and steer it in the right direction and play to your strengths.
- Have a solid plan based on actual results and realistic projections, it is a safer foundation to build upon.
- Set regular time aside to get all the free advice and support you can via forums, websites, meetups and local business networks.
- Timing is everything, know the right moment to recruit help
- Employ people with the expertise your business needs and/or the expertise you lack.
- Consider apprenticeships, a cost-effective solution
- Consider sharing employees with other businesses
- Manage time effectively
What’s the Take-Home?
My take home message is, no business is worth the sacrifice of your health and well-being, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do everything you can to run your business well, take all the support you are offered, beware of people who promise the earth and charge accordingly, mistakes are OK, but learn from them. If you have a quality offering that is in demand you have the fundamentals in place. It is now a case of getting all your ducks in a row ready to fly. I wish you every success.