Managing Through A Business Turnaround

Businesses in trouble often seek business coaching

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.  So, I have seen my fair share of business owners who have hit hard times and need to turn their business around.  A business turnaround is one of the most difficult maneuvers a business owner will ever make.  I had to do it myself once, I know.  In my business coaching practice I have seen that turnarounds are a time when true leadership is called for.  It’s a time for tough decisions and decisive actions.  Here are some business coaching tips from someone who has been there as well as been witness to many others.

Business Coaching Tip #1: Knowledge is your friend. When businesses get into trouble the owners often avoid looking at the numbers.  They just don’t want to know how bad things have gotten.  So, they avoid doing their P&L’s.  They don’t look at sales trends.  They make excuses.  The first step to righting the ship is to understand exactly where it stands.  Take a look at the vital information you need to know and do it now!

Business Coaching Tip #2: Start the turnaround sooner, rather than later. This seems obvious, but when you are in the middle of a sinking business, it’s hard to get perspective.  Most business owners think a downturn is merely a blip.  They stay in denial far too long.  Things usually have to get really bad before a business owner formally admits that the business is in trouble.  Don’t wait.  Implement a turnaround at the first sign that things are heading in the wrong direction.

Business Coaching Tip #3: Bring in an outsider to help you get perspective. It may be a good friend who knows a lot about business.  It may be a turnaround consultant.  It may be a business coach who has helped other business owners through difficult times.  It may be a small team of people.  Whoever it is, they need to be able to cut to the chase quickly.  And, they need to have no vested interest in the business.  In other words, they need to be objective so that they can give you an honest assessment of where you stand.

Business Coaching Tip #4: Create a turnaround plan. Set specific goals and put them in writing.  Write an action plan to achieve each of those goals.  Have an outsider hold you accountable to taking action and achieving the results you have set out.  A written plan is essential.  Having a vague idea of what to do is not good enough.  You must commit in writing to the things that you will do to turn the business around.  Those actions must have a date by which you will do them.  You must track your results.

Business Coaching Tip #5: Time is of the essence. One of the biggest mistakes I see in my coaching practice is that clients who have businesses in trouble sometimes lack a sense of urgency.  I don’t understand it.  Perhaps it is part of the denial that has set in.  But hear this:  You must act quickly.  Once things start going downhill, they can spin out of control quickly.  Don’t let this happen.  Head things off at the pass.

Business Coaching Tip #6: Act decisively. Don’t pussyfoot around here.  Take big actions, not baby steps.  This is important, because if you make small moves, you will likely have to come back and make yet more.  For example, if you have to cut headcount, cut deeply once rather than lightly multiple times.  Don’t pull the band aid off one hair at a time.  Take bold, decisive action.

Business Coaching Tip #7: Find the right balance between assuming responsibility and beating yourself up. It’s important to assume responsibility.  You own the business, this happened on your watch.  Assuming responsibility actually empowers you to make the changes you need to make to fix things.  If you believe things are not your fault and beyond your control, then you believe you don’t have the power to fix them.  On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up.  That is not helpful.  You need to remain positive and beating yourself up is not the way to do that.  Find the right balance.

Here’s what I know from my business coaching:  If you are willing to take a realistic look at where things stand and take bold and decisive action, you have a good chance of turning things around.  The key is to step up and lead.  Bring in someone who can help you have the perspective to see the right action to take and take it.  This can be one of the most important stages in your business development.  You will learn more about your business during a turnaround than you have ever learned before.  See this as a great opportunity and step into it!

Nan O’Connor is one of America’s top business coaches

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.  (search for her name in the directory) You can reach her at 404-378-5026 or  Visit her website at
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