What One Thing can make the Biggest Difference to your Struggling Business?

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What is the one thing that makes a difference to any struggling business?  That question was posed to me last week, by the author of a book-in-progress on small business management.

The answer is clear, when you work with troubled companies.  Of course, some make it and others don’t.  The chances for success are pretty slim.  Ninty-five percent don’t make it past five years and, five years on, the same percentage applies.  And my main observation is that the survivors are owned and managed by resilient, resourceful people.  Simply put, they have a positive business mindset.  If it’s not there, there’s not much hope.

Absolutely no other factor is as important as this mental drive and toughness.  Without it, people lose heart and fail to do what it takes to ensure that their financially challenged businesses endure.  This resilience is the factor common to all successful business people.

The right mindset will equip the owner to seek solutions to set the business up properly at the outset.  Or at least, will make the necessary adjustments as he or she becomes established.  And if trouble hits, as it almost always does, to make smart decisions as to how to get back on track.  Lesser people throw in the towel too quickly, after times get tough and creditors get nasty.

“But how can a business owner change their mindset for the better?”, the author asked.  I’m no psychologist, but I do observe people closely.  And here are the positive steps that I recommend, having seen people take them to fundamentally improve their ability to work through very tough business problems:

  • Surround yourself with positive and intelligent business people.  Stay away from negative influences.  There’s a “conspiracy of the unmotivated”, as Dan Kennedy would say, that can drag you down.  Heed the advice of the great Jim Rohn, who claimed that you become the average of the five people with whom you associate the most.
  • Read and absorb as much good marketing and business development information as possible.
  • Join a mastermind group, or start one of your own.
  • Seek ongoing assistance from a paid-by-results business development specialist, who sees your business from a different perspective than yourself.

I’ve seen dejected, beaten business people turn themselves around, before taking the first steps to save their companies.  It often starts with the realization that they are not alone and that untold thousands of other businesses face similar challenges.  The biggest obstacle to recovery is not declining cash flow, or creditors calling, or the banker’s request for a meeting.  It’s a defeatist mentality and outlook.

A business debt workout and turnaround is not always easy to get through, for any business owner.  But there’s an end to it.  And it is a much easier process for specialists like me to implement and execute if the business owner has the right, positive mindset.

Balance sheet ratios and cash flow projections?  Important, of course.  But in my experience with challenged businesses, the owner’s mindset is the best predictor of success or failure.





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