Business transition, like any kind of change is a collective process that does not always wait until the leader is ready. From going feet first to outliving the business and locking the door for the very last time, getting the most out of your present circumstances makes the most sense. The question of what to do with an underperforming business in a traditional industry, one that has been a part of the family and your identity for decades, can be elusive or downright scary.
Like an incessant rock lyric that you can’t seem to get out of your mind, most owners seem to do whatever they can to avoid the steps necessary to anticipate or even create the change that can sustain a business. It just keeps coming up, with no progress toward an answer. Maybe its pride, you think it can’t happen to you, or maybe the right approach is just so elusive. You have always been the “fixer” but today the solutions are different, those once reliable solutions don’t seem to come as easily today. But, the reality of business change is a constant that must be addressed.
It is hard to reconcile with the fact that you just don’t have all the answers. You’re not ready to give it up, and you wonder what else would give you that much purpose every day. Pride and fear are big obstacles to taking the most expedient course.
If your business has been stagnating due to lack of leadership, a contemporary skills deficit, or a declining interest in being at work every day; it might be time you found a way to get the most out of what’s left.
Here are several steps to help in stabilizing the business at its current level. If you can fix the business yourself all the better. Most of the work is in addressing three primary fundamentals, the culture, optimizing operational systems and building a robust platform for finding and keeping customers. If you have questions or need some direction get help.
- Start by taking stock of the value the organization still provides. Determine why people buy from you and what you need to do to sustain it.
- Housekeeping – Clean the place up and dispose of all distressed merchandise, old records and non-contributing employees.
- Assess the offering. Determine what products and services have appeal and how future trends might impact viability.
- Right size the business by taking steps to keep the good workers, getting rid of excess space and any other non-contributing activities.
- Become a better leader simply by sharing your vision. Listen, really listen to your employees and customers. Lead by sharing your objectives and helping everyone understand their role in making each week successful.
- Make incremental improvements in information systems.
- Optimize processes and delivery systems.
- Now, create a succession plan.
- Get help with that plan and help preparing for your transition.