Great Ideas for your Small Business: Know When to Reach Out for Help
Every business hits a rocky patch once in a while; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You have to reach out for help and work with whomever you can to solve your problems. If you don’t, you are jeopardizing your business, your family, and your reputation.
Read through this quick checklist to monitor your current business health:
- Are vendors or suppliers calling you and demanding to be paid immediately?
- Has your banker reduced your credit line or demanded full payment of a loan?
- Are you having trouble meeting your pay- roll?
- Are you dipping into personal savings to pay your bills?
- Are customer complaints increasing?
- Do you have trouble sleeping and feel out of control?
if you checked more than one “yes,” face it: you need help ASAP. First, decide whether any of your current advisers can help you sort things out. Your accountant may be able to figure out ways to boost your cash flow. Your attorney can draft stern collection letters which might help you get paid faster. A freelance marketing consultant can help create a low-cost, short-term promotion aimed at bringing in new sales.
If you feel your business is in serious jeopardy, you might consider hiring a professional turnaround consultant. These highly skilled and experienced experts step into your shoes and take charge. They work quickly to negotiate deals with creditors and vendors to keep them at bay. They often deal with your banker, your suppliers, and your landlord, convincing them to give you more time to sort things out.
Bringing in an outsider to rescue your company is a dramatic measure, but it tells the world that you care enough about your business to step aside—at least temporarily. Turn- around consultants do not work cheaply. A good one may cost thousands of dollars that you probably don’t have, but it’s worth borrowing the money from friends or relatives if it’s necessary to save your business. One turnaround consultant I know actually found $60,000 worth of uncashed checks in the drawer of a panicked controller.
Here’s the rub: If you do hire a turnaround consultant, you must step out of the management picture, relinquishing the day-to-day responsibility of running the business. You can’t disappear, though. You have to be available to answer questions and provide information.
For less severe problems, schedule some affordable counseling at a Small Business Development Center. There are nearly 1,000 centers around the country, jointly funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and private organizations, usually colleges or universities. You can find the closest SBDC by calling the SBA office listed under federal government in the white pages.
Ignoring your problems is a sure way to kill your business. No one likes to admit they’re stressing, but sending up a flare is the only way to be rescued before it’s too late.