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October 4, 2011
Titanic Nightmare: Will Your Small Business Hit an Iceberg?
 
Much to no one’s surprise, 2011 has not been a good year for many small businesses.

That being said, there are small businesses that are succeeding and there are small businesses that are failing in this troubled economy. Which category have you found yourself in?

If it is the latter, there is still time to turn the ship around before it becomes the next Titanic.

If your small business is taking on water, gather all hands on deck and determine just why things are not going so swimmingly. Assuming you have a business plan in place, what on that plan are you not executing?

Have you asked yourself lately things like…
  • Who are my customers?
  • Am I giving them second-to-none customer service?
  • Why am I not getting more return customers?
  • Is my competition seeing an uptick in business?
  • Am I putting out more money than I’m taking in? If so, where can I make cuts?
  • Do I need to make staff changes?
Don’t Be a Reactionary
It is no secret that many small businesses fail in the first five years of operation. If your business is in this time frame and things are not going accordingly, look past the turbulent economy and see where you are truly failing.

One of the major gaffes that small business owners make is being reactionary. If you are a person who has trouble making decisions, don’t make the situation worse by making hasty decisions.

If the competitor is doing something that is winning him business and not you, analyze what he’s doing right, but don’t automatically employ his strategy in your daily business operations. What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.

It is also important for small business owners to have a cash flow in place so that the reservoir doesn’t run dry.

While you may need to make some decisions related to your creditors, debtors, investors, etc. you need to make sure funds are in place for a rainy day.

If your business is suffering from poor cash flow management or ongoing negative cash flow, your ship may be listing more than you realize.

Know Your Employees
Another important factor to remember is that your small business is only as good as the employees you have to run it. Given that some owners like to micromanage and others take a more hands-off approach, what is the relationship between you, your employees, and your customers?

Are your employees placed in positive situations where they can succeed and grow or are they just filling a space in your company? Employers who get the most out of their employees treat them like they’d want to be treated.

The bottom line is your employees are the company’s best asset, so hire the right people and seat them on the bus where they can best assist your business.

Finally, what is the reason you got in business in the first place? If it was to make a ton of money, perhaps you need to rethink why you’re doing what you do.

While many small business owners will end up seeing a net profit over time when they call it a career, others will have sacrificed all they had and then some just to make ends meet.

Roll up your sleeves and be prepared at times to bail some water out of your ship.

If you treat your customers right, offer good products and services, hire quality staff, and make them want to come to work each day, there is a good chance that you will set sail on a successful and enjoyable business career.

Trust me; the alternative of going down with the ship is not a very pleasant thought.

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