Starting a business is tough. More so when things are heading south and not enough income is coming in that you have to dip into your personal resources to get by.
The worst part, of course, is when your personal resources are almost depleted and you see nothing in the horizon that could change the situation. And you’ve got a family to support, bills to pay, and the creditors are already starting to call!
Before you end up in this situation, you need to take a good hard look at what is wrong with your business. Look at your operations, and write down the reasons why you are not getting the revenues you need.
At this point, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Financial help of course is always welcome — and needed. But you may want to find assistance in helping you understand what is going wrong with the business, and advice you on strategies you can use to turn it around. This is when a mentor comes in.
A knowledgeable mentor — someone who has been in business and experienced ups and downs — can give you an objective assessment of what ails your business. Sometimes it is hard for you to see clearly the complete picture, and need a fresh pair of knowledgeable eyes to see the problems — and more importantly, recommend how you can improve your business situation:
- Is there really no market for your product/service?
- Is there a way to restructure your debt?
- What are the problems in your cashflow?
- What are the loopholes in your marketing strategy and what strategies are not giving you the results you need?
- Is there something you can improve with regards to your price points?
- How can you improve your distribution?
- What are the bottlenecks in your product mix?
- What expense items can you cut without further jeopardizing your revenue position?
These are but some of the questions that you need to ask to help you understand the causes of your business’ poor performance.
Go to your local SBDC Small Business Development Center http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html and ask for a free consultation. They can give you mentors or consultants who can guide you. Some SBDCs will require you to attend a free seminar first, while others will just ask you to send an email detailing the type of help you need before the SBDC can schedule you for a free consultation with one of their consultants.
Another way is to find another business owner you trust, and who is willing to spend the time with you to analyze your business. If you are part of a local business organization such as the Chamber of Commerce, there might be someone you can talk to who can help you understand the problem and give you some suggestions.
But more importantly, you need to accept first and foremost that something is wrong with the business (I know some who stubbornly cling to their systems and processes — even when things are going so bad). Only by accepting that you need to change something can the positive change really come.