We Have To Close Our Doors… Why Struggling Businesses Create Struggling Businesses, and Why Push Ups Won’t Be Enough To Save Them.
It’s a house of cards that I have been on the end of multiple times. A business is not doing so well, they can’t talk about it openly because, frankly, not doing well in business is bad for business.
Customers don’t want to be involved with businesses that aren’t doing well, clients don’t engage you, and debtors can apply pressure to get money out of you, believing sometimes correctly, that they might not get a chance to recoup the money they are owed.
There are a million ways for businesses to fall on hard times. You can have personal issues, financial issues (cash flow is king), you might not be working that hard, you might not be working that smart. Perhaps clients are late on paying the bills, or maybe you don’t have enough clients.
There are so many ways that times can be tough.
Starting off with big dreams, many people invest big… I mean, you can see your vision, so everyone else will right? Before you know it, there are a whole bunch of competitors, copy cats, under cutters and noise surrounding your vision, through no fault of your own and the competitive landscape you thought you would be navigating has changed completely, before you even got a chance to establish a foothold.
Then there is the ugly side of business, the part where occasionally you just get f*%ked over. You can be f*#ked over on purpose by unscrupulous businesses, suppliers or customers, and you can be inadvertently f*#ked over by people who themselves have fallen on hard times, or strung you along without realising what an impact that will have on your business.
No one ever really talks about it in a practical sense. I have seen people complain on the internet that ‘So and so did such and such and that’s so bad for me’ etc., practically however, there is a reason why business owners don’t ask for help, and then just suddenly fold.
Usually people open businesses in areas where they know people, know the community, engage and interact with the community. The people they know might be doing similar things, if you open a Physiotherapy clinic in St Kilda, and you grew up there, chances are you know at least some of the other physios in St Kilda. They are unlikely to share trade secrets with you, or information about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to running a practice.
Sure, there are business coaches, and there are some really great ones, but, frankly, there are a lot of bullshit artists out there too, who don’t really know what they are talking about and won’t give you great value for your limited dollars.
In my travels for work, I meet dozens of business all over the country who are having similar problems. Retail businesses with cash flow problems, gyms having dramas with high rents and member retentions, non-profit organisations who have no idea how to scale and maintain their operations. The problem is, when your network of support are your customers, or geographically, your competitors, it makes it hard to be open and honest about the aspects of your business that are causing you grief. Look like you are failing and you risk driving away customers/suppliers etc, look like you are having a tough time and your competitors may smell blood in the water.
The compounding of problems gets worse and worse, with the stress of not going so well impacting work and your motivation, not being able to talk to anyone, getting the blinkers on, making bad decisions etc etc.
Your clients notice that you are stressed, your family notice it, you feel it in the anxious nights awake, and it certainly doesn’t just get easier.
I have seen and helped many people through tough times in business, simply by being an ear and discussing what I have seen, maybe what I would do, or what others are doing. Sometimes just a simple ‘Yeah, its bloody tough going, plenty of people in the same boat’ can calm people down a little bit.
I have also been that guy, through what was a very tough, very long period of business I had a number of disruptive and expensive incidents that made work very stressful. Money was very tight, the days were very, very long and I probably took a few years off my life navigating through those times.
It meant a lot to have the love and support of my friends and family, but in those situations it can also mean more to have the opportunity to rectify the situation. Asking for help in business is rarely about asking for handouts, and it shouldn't be. It's asking for opportunities, connections, strategy or structure. Having a sounding board from someone who understands those situations can be invaluable when you are getting swamped in the stress of your own mind. It breaks many, many people.
Unfortunately though, the understanding friend who has no real idea what you are going through, is not the most practical help. All the good will in the world won’t help you, if you don’t get some information and steps to take to work your way to a more successful enterprise.
I have set up, through the JBNProject, the opportunity to connect businesses that are similar in nature, but geographically separate, so that business owners can discuss the ups and downs of what they are experiencing with someone in the same boat who is
This isn’t a lead into business coaching. This isn’t a service that you have to pay for, it is simply being able to put people together so that you can learn and discuss business in a practical way. Finding someone who has been where you are in your journey, or someone who can help. This isn’t a mastermind, or a complete business overhaul. If you are looking for something of that nature, by all means let me know, there are some great opportunities for business development from a range of really great practitioners.
This isn’t about lunches and meetups, where everyone talks about what they are going to do, or has to polish their lives up to look like they are doing well to get business. There are plenty of those around already. This isn’t about 6-steps to 7 figures, or posing in front of expensive leased cars. No spam emails promising the world, or giving you the 'keys to living the life you deserve'.
This is about real-life business owners and entrepreneurs, who need a bit of a leg up, who need a relevant and experienced ear to talk to. People with rent and mortgages to pay, families to feed and kids to keep in school. Between these contacts you can remain anonymous, it is no problem. We just want to create an environment that allows business owners to be themselves, be honest and be vulnerable for a moment, so that a plan of attack can be formed and you can get on with getting it done.
There is no shortcut to success, and I am yet to see a struggling business just magic their way out of a tough time. You will have to work hard, no doubt, but better to do it with the help of people in the know, than blindly pushing forward in the wrong, upsetting direction. You aren’t alone, you aren’t the only one, and it happens to the best of us, even when we are working hard all the time.
A great chance for entrepreneurs who have come through it to help out, and a great chance for people who could use the help, to get it. The link is provided below.
Keep working hard, and remember, Just Be Nice.
For those who are doing it tough, rest assured you are not the first, not the last and you are not alone. If you are in a really bad way and need someone to talk to urgently, don't hesitate to call the crew at Lifeline - 13 11 14
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports