2020 hasn’t been kind to businesses, and many are facing dwindling revenues and, in some cases, entirely corrupted business models because of COVID-19. While the ‘solution’ for each business will look different, there are a few approaches you can take immediately to course-correct your company and bring it back to success.
I’m currently the Managing Director of Australia’s longest running talent agency, Bubblegum Casting, and I took over the business when it was failing in honor of my late sister, who had been one of the agency’s top stars. Despite the agency’s original downward spiral at the time of the acquisition, I’m proud to say that I successfully brought the business back to life and scaled it to what it is today, with locations in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
Since then, I’ve applied these same ‘ business resuscitation’ practices in other businesses that I’ve acquired, such as my photography studio and children’s clothing brand. Here is my best advice to other business owners for resuscitating failing businesses.
Assess the current business processes.
Much of a business’ success comes down to its processes. The first thing that I look at when taking over a failing business is what systems and processes were originally in place, and what new ones need to be created to rectify the situation. My agency represents a total of 1,800 kids, which means processes are an integral part of his day-to-day operations when managing people at that scale. Whether you have two or 2,000 customers, a refined set of processes should be first on the to-do list.
For your own business, I recommend taking a hard look at what hasn’t been working. Perhaps the sales cycle is too complicated or marketing and exposure initiatives haven’t been given proper attention to date. Consider how you streamline your clients or customers, and if there’s even the right infrastructure in place to scale if things did start to go well.
Fall in love with the business again.
It’s worth noting that you should remind yourself why you got into the business to begin with. Who did you want to help? Why do you love the industry? These reasons can become smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror as you get into the challenges of running a business, but once you forget why you loved it to begin with, you lose the required passion to double down when the business is failing. Your ‘why’ truly is the most important part, to quote Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk.
I truly fell in love with both the industry and the processes, which showed in the business’ tremendous success. I also had a compelling ‘why’ which kept me focused every single day: memorializing my sister’s life and her legacy through the agency’s success. Take some time to remember your own compelling why, and try to relight that old flame. It may spur some newfound excitement to get things grooving again.
Look for potential creative growth opportunities related to the business.
Sometimes, course-correcting requires a pivot, which means you should look on the horizon for other opportunities to grow. A major part of bringing your business to success is seeing all the opportunities available — even the ones that you originally wouldn’t think about. To understand this perspective, I’ll use my own strategy as an example. I treated Bubblegum Casting as the ‘business nucleus,’ and built other businesses around it (i.e., Windsor Photo Studios and Byron Babies).
The photo studio provided additional revenue streams for the business, and the children’s clothing brand facilitated new opportunities for our talent. Think through other opportunities related to your current business. If your business is in ‘survival mode,’ starting another business may not be the first move, but begin to think what that could look like on a smaller scale. Having a vision of what the business could be is what will guide you towards the opportunities.
If you don’t have your own business at the moment but you’re interested in taking over a failing one, I recommend taking advantage of the current times to do so. The market right now is prime for acquiring businesses and turning them around. However, make sure you have prior business experience. I would never advise for a beginner to start this way!
Regardless, there are always ways to breathe life back into a business. Get creative and keep the focus on growth and course-correction at the forefront!
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