Unfortunately, not all businesses are destined to keep their doors open. If you can recognize the main warning signs your business is in trouble, you might be able to inspire and initiate helpful changes to make a difference, or at the very least, get yourself ready for a polite but timely exit.
Clues Trouble Is Lurking
Company leaders cannot provide a clear vision or specific goals.
Solid businesses let a definitive concept of what they want to achieve or be drive everything they do. They also communicate objectives to workers clearly not only to improve efficiency, but also to inspire and motivate. If your company can’t tell you what to really work for, they’re likely floundering and have little way of measuring if progress is actually taking place. A symptom of this problem is a high number of employees hopping from position to position or from department to department.
Upper-level workers put every expense under a microscope and projects are delayed.
Watching costs more can signal that the company is having serious trouble bringing in enough cash to cover costs. Related project delays generally happen because more members of management become involved in signing off on funds, managers wants more documentation or research from workers before they’ll sign off and because leaders are still divided about the best use of available money. Businesses also may tighten their belts in areas like perks, timekeeping or pay raises.
Meeting numbers go up…and you’re not invited.
More closed-door meetings than normal can be a sign that leaders are chewing on tough issues in the company. The results often include significant changes to the company’s structure, policies or workforce, which might mean your job is on the cutting block.
High turnover usually means that a company isn’t doing enough to sell itself to workers and keep morale up, be it in a lack of benefits, not resolving problems or failing to develop a team mentality. Be especially wary if you see core leaders such as your C-suite vacating their positions with little notice or explanation, as it typically signals the presence of internal conflicts and the potential for new leaders to completely revamp the business – with or without you. You also should be concerned if leadership doesn’t bother to replace workers who vacate.
Advice to Patch the Holes in Your Business Hull
As scary as the signs of trouble in a business can be, they’re not impossible to fix. For example, a good tactic on the road to creating a business vision with clear goals is just to write down things your company has done that you’re proud of, as Ari Weinzweig of Inc. points out, or to get insights from friends, colleagues, mentors and others. Exploring alternative forms of financing, as guru Mark Kramer suggests, may free you to pay providers on time, be more open to innovative projects and offer morale-boosting financial incentives to workers. Don’t rule out business loans for bad credit here, and as long as you are in a position to pay back the loan, the funding could be quite timely. Lastly, a general policy of total openness, coupled with soliciting ideas and feedback from those on your payroll, can build trust, keep workers feeling valued and slash turnover.
Companies in trouble often exhibit similar warning signs. You sometimes can save a floundering business if you address these symptoms early, so don’t automatically quit.
Jason Taylor is a business owner of many years. Whenever he has the time, he likes to write about what he has learned, in an effort to help others. You can find his helpful posts on many of today’s top websites and blogs.