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[BLOG] What to do when business isn’t going well

5 emergency actions you can take today for a smoother tomorrow.



I’m writing this blog for you – for the entrepreneur with a good heart and a great idea. For the entrepreneur who works their butt off, but is struggling to make ends meet. For the entrepreneur who can see things are going downhill and needs to take action today to turn things around.


I want to tell you that you CAN pull this around. You CAN change your circumstances. You CAN control the outcome. But you must act now. You must take full responsibility for your situation so you can set and action a new plan for recovery and growth. And you must do it whole heartedly with a commitment to the outcome you want.


Now before I dive into the steps, I want you to know that this isn’t coming from a place of ‘you can do it’ in the land of rainbows.


I’ve built three six figure businesses. I’ve had the best of months and the worst of months. I’ve 10 x’d revenue and I’ve come close to personal bankruptcy. I’ve been there, lying under a table wondering how I’m going to pull this off, wondering how to get out of the mess I’d made. And I did – I always found a way to pull through and turn things around dramatically. Not only did I learn something every time but it made me a better business owner.


As the old saying goes “What got you here, won’t get you there”, so it’s time for a dramatic upgrade in focus, mindset and action.


Ready? Let’s dive in:


Is your business viable?


You’ve got to get real with yourself first and foremost and ask: Is my business viable? By viable I mean:


  • Does it bring in more money than it costs to run?
  • Is it scalable?
  • Can it adapt to survive another five, ten, twenty years?


A lot of entrepreneurs I work with are good hearted, kind people. They feel lucky to be in business. Sometimes they don’t feel worthy and have reported ‘waiting to be found out’. Even though they’re amazing at what they do! They therefore finding themselves being over generous. They give too much time away for free. They cut deals they can’t afford to deliver on. They let people pay invoices later or split them over extended terms.


It feels easier, better, kinder that way, right? But the thing is: When you’re cutting deals like this you’re actually paying for someone else who can’t afford you or someone who just doesn’t value your hard work. You’re paying their price. And it’s not a viable way to do business. This might be okay for one or two loyal clients but if it’s a way of doing business, it can’t last.


We need you out there doing your good work for the long run so the first step is to get brutal. I’d go through bank statements for the last 6-12 months and look at what’s coming in and what’s going out. How much are you keeping / losing each month? Where is the loss coming from? And what’s behind it?


Maybe you make most of your money on one service and lose it on another? Maybe it’s one client who isn’t paying the ‘real price’ because you’ve worked with them so long? Maybe you have money going out and you can’t even remember what it’s for? I’ve experienced all three scenarios, so I know this isn’t easy work to face. But – to stay in business – you must  face these facts and evolve to build a truly sustainable, scalable business.


ACTION: Armed with the facts, make some big ass decisions. Do you need to increase your prices or cut your costs or even cull an entire service? It might feel uncomfortable but it’s better to take control now rather than wait and see.


Decide on the outcome you want


When people tell me their business is going under, I always ask: What outcome do you want here? Is it to sell it? To turn it around? To get help from a bank or loan company? Or to go under?


Each action requires a completely different strategy and so the first step is to make a decision: What outcome do you want here? Pause and say it out loud.


When you’ve decided on the outcome you want, set a positive vision for yourself, your family and your team – focus on the outcome you want. If it’s dyer and you’re in debt and sinking fast don’t focus on that. I know that sounds like crazy advice but I really believe in the Law of Attraction. You will get more of what you focus on. Plus, you want people to help you so give them a positive vision to rally behind.


It’s been proven that people rally more to positive outcomes than negative ones. A simple statement of “I’m able to bring on five new web site clients this month – do you know anyone who needs a web site?” is much more enticing than “I’m £5000 short on my bills and if I don’t pay it I will go out of business”.


This isn’t just true for rallying the support of your team and family but for rallying your own spirits. Each day, wake up and ask: “What must I do today to bring in X new clients or £XX in revenue?”. Your brain is a computer and will solve whatever problem you give it. Make sure you give it a good problem to solve!


If you want to sell, ask yourself what you need to do to make that possible. Who do you know who can help? What do you need to put in order? If this is your goal, prepare for it and make it happen.


ACTION: Decide on the outcome you want and set a new short-term strategy to make it happen. You can name it too, like ‘Project Phoenix’ or ‘Project Exit’. Whatever the strategy, get super clear on the steps you need to take to turn it around and rally everyone around the new vision and plan.


Cut every cost – I’m not even joking


When your business is failing, struggling or on the edge, get ruthless and cut every cost! There is no point having the fancy business cards, the lovely office, the newest iMac if you’re about to go out of business.


Go through your bank account, your subscriptions, your expenses and CUT every cost you can. Do you really need that software? Have your marketing expenses crept up? Are you travelling too much? Do you need to move house?


It can be so painful to do this because it feels like defeat but trust me – it’s winning! And as you start to recover, you’ll find it’s an exercise you return to. Every quarter in DARETOGROW, I revisit all my expenses and cut everything I can – consultancy fees, spare desks, subscriptions we don’t use. It’s not just a life saver, it’s a principle for a healthy bottom line and saves us thousands of pounds every year.


ACTION: Spend an afternoon going through every expense, subscription and contract and see what you can cut, reduce or suspend.


Get into sales mode


Chances are you have a product or a service. You’re making sales or have made sales in the past but you’re just not making enough. So set a target for how much revenue you want (or need) to bring in over the coming months and get to work every day. There is power in clarity and focus.


If you need three new clients ask yourself: Where are they? Do you need to go networking to find them? Do you need to put on an event? Can you go live on social media and announce a special new deal or product to bring on new customers. Can you take advantage of the time of year to put on a special offer to bring on new clients?


You are the best person in your business to sell your offering and there is nothing wrong with getting out there to tell people what you do.


Even if it’s a quieter time of year like the festive period or the summer holidays there are people out there RIGHT NOW looking for exactly what you have to offer. I’ve made sales in all periods but to key to every sale was visibility. It was turning up online and in person when everyone else stopped and switched off. Even if it’s Christmas week and you think it’s impossible to make sales, it’s important to stay visible (with appropriate messages of course) so that when people come looking in the New Year, you’re first on their mind!


ACTION: Get clear on your monthly revenue target. How much do you need to earn to make it through vs. how much do you need to thrive? Then measure your activity against these two targets weekly. Are you really doing enough to onboard new clients and turn things around?  



Abundance journal


This stuff works so before you knock it, give it a bash!


Buy a new journal or fold up some paper from the printer and start documenting EVERY positive thing that comes into your life. Like the coffee your friend paid for, the new potential clients who walked through your doors to see what you sell, that referral from a contact, the lamp your friend gifted you.


The aim is to switch your point of attraction from negativity and lack to positivity and abundance. This is EASY to do when things are going well and very challenging to do when things are going to pot! But it’s imperative that you take your new actions with the right mindset. It will MAGNIFY your efforts.


ACTION: Note down everything that flows to you every single night before bed and cultivate feelings of abundance in your business.




About the author


Lisa Bean is passionate about teaching purpose driven entrepreneurs how to build scalable six figure businesses. She is the founder of Start Up School [LINK] and Expansion Business School [LINK].


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