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BE-7-July-2

Warning signs that your small business is failing

Judging the success of your business from the inside can sometimes be hard. Watch out for these warning signs that could suggest your business is not doing as well as you’d hope…

The line between success and failure in the small business world is a fine one. And if you don’t pay attention to which side of the line your business is on, you could find yourself in deep trouble.

Reviewing your business every now and then is important – but you should also be keeping an eye open for some warning signs that you’re heading in the wrong direction…

Bored young man at the desk

Lack of new customers
While some small businesses can thrive on one or two core contracts, it can leave you in a precarious position should one of them suddenly cancel.

Ideally, you should be getting new contracts in regularly. While not all of them will last or be highly lucrative, they are a sign that people in the industry know your brand.

What to do…
Launch a new marketing campaign aimed at attracting new customers

Nothing’s changed
Stability is one thing – it can provide strong foundations from which you and your team can build – but stagnating is another.

Once you’ve got the stability you need you should be using this to try out new ideas and ways of expanding. If your working process, office life and day-to-day schedule haven’t changed in a year, then it suggests your business is not growing, and you’re not trying to grow it.

A lack of innovation means competitors who are more innovative will soon overtake you and could start stealing your customers.

What to do…
Hold regular idea generation meetings with your staff on everything from improving working practices to attracting new businesses

All quiet
The small business world can be a restricted one, with local networking events and social media the hub of all gossip. Monitoring mentions on social media or word of mouth from meet-ups is a good rule of thumb for judging how well known your company is. If no one is talking about you, then you might be in trouble.

But if you can’t hear anyone talking about you, it doesn’t mean they’re not – you might just need to improve your networking and social media presences. One way to do it is to start asking people if they know who you are and take it from there.

What to do…
Get active on social media by starting conversations with your customers. Go as far as to ask for reviews, even if they’re not going to be positive.

Struggling to pay bills on time
While the above points are hard to monitor, it’s easier to see problems in the finances of a business. One of the main warning signs is that you’re struggling to pay bills on time.

Not only does this suggest you’ve got cash-flow problems, but it could end up leading to more serious issues, as late payment fees are charged or interest on loans starts to add up.

You should be keeping an eye on incomings and outgoings every day and tracking trends over time. If you’ve had a few months in a row where you’re delaying or missing payments, you need to start asking yourself why this is.

What to do…
Have a look at your cash flow. You might be late on your payments simply due to poor time management. If it’s a more fundamental issue, look at ways of cutting costs.

Everyone’s leaving you
Worker engagement is a key sign of a successful business. When things are going well, people want to be part of it.

Even at firms that aren’t pushing boundaries, as long as there’s innovation and a strong team spirit, people will be happy to stay and make things work.

But once your business becomes stale and starts to look like it could fold, people will leave. It can be hard to spot when your business is on the edge yourself, but a lot of employees can spot it easily and will be searching the job sites in no time at all.

What to do…
Engage your workers by giving them more freedom to implement their ideas and have a bigger say in the running of the company.