How to Fail in Business or Not

Once again I recently was asked to have a look at a failing business. Now this one was probably the most frustrating experience I have ever had. I kinda felt like I was in an episode of Tabatha Takes Over lol. The problem was this business which was a small business is owned by someone who really isn’t ready to manage either a business or people. Not because they are stupid or incompetent but simply because she hasn’t reached a level of maturity to run a business. However it’s not uncommon for me to come across businesses like this where the business was purchased for them by family. 

However this is what I had to work with so I needed to focus on building a sense of ownership and responsibility into the owner. The battle was leadership and skill not the staff. It was a good challenge. I established that the owner was not focussed on the fact they were a business owner but rather the fact that it gave them status and freedom. What I had to get her to focus on was that if that’s what she was looking for she needed to sell the business, give the grandparents back the money and go and work part time for someone else. Another barrier was that as the owner she was perceived by customers as incompetent because she had gone into a business that she wasn’t fully trained to run from a skill set. So the first step was to get some training and focus on the fact that as an owner she needed to be able to lead by example and be the best and most efficient at what she does. If customers don’t trust your skills and your staff leave you are left with nothing but a huge debt and no money coming in. 

Now this ended up being surprisingly easy. I wasn’t expecting it to click so easily but it did. We did this by sitting down with her and her grandparents, explaining the financial situation, showing how if things keep tracking this way the business will only last another six months and then demonstrating the impact this loss will have on her grandparents. I think when she could see how concerned her grandparents were she had a light bulb moment. Now at this point she was ready to learn and take responsibility. So this was a good start. From this point on it was relatively easy. I set her up with a business mentor from the same industry and arranged ongoing training for both herself and staff. 

The other thing that I see way too often and we had to fix is that the owner wasn’t really seeing the big picture because the grandparents were doing the books and managing the money and bills. This needed to change if she was ever going to take on the responsibility of being a boss. The grandparents had the best intentions not wanting her to worry and to be able to concentrate on the day to day operations but in the end it just doesn’t work. 

Now in brief, the enthusiasm and a level of responsibility is now there, but as is the case with many in this situation only time will tell if it will last. Now as a business owner with the full responsibility of making this work it may end up being too big a sacrifice and she may just decide to sell but if she decides to keep the business and do the long hours and hard work it has the potential to be an incredible small business. As the owner however she will need to be present in the business to make it work and realise that her social life is over for a while. We will see how it plays out.