I have a mission in life.
That sounds like a stupid mission, right?
But I still want to try and help people with my knowledge and experience on how to run a successful business.
I hate seeing businesses fail and dreams shattered.
That’s why I started my own social media marketing and Web content writing business.
I want to help business owners avoid a catastrophic disaster and continue making their dreams come true.
Luckily, most business failures do not happen overnight.
Instead, they are a culmination of many small failures that ultimately lead to the doors being shut…forever.
The good news: many failures are preventable.
We just need to recognize the warning signs and take action before it’s too late.
The 5 warning signs your business will fail miserably
(and how to prevent it from happening)
5. Your business is not earning enough sales revenue to generate sustainable net income
In other words, you are not making enough (or any) money to pay your bills, employees…or even yourself.
How to generate more revenue for your business
You have a few options when your business is not generating any revenue.
- Quit and shut down your business forever (not recommended).
- Secure a loan from either a bank or another source, such as crowdfunding.
- Call your suppliers and ask for a favor in extending you an extension or an additional line of credit.
- Contact both current and potential customers and sell your products and services with dogged determination (pretend as if your business and livelihood depend on it).
Obviously, each of these options is a long shot, but they’re worth a try.
4. You don’t have any customers
Customers and revenue go hand in hand.
When you don’t have customers, you will not be earning any income, which is the money paid to you for the sale of your products or services.
This will lead to no money in your accounts and no way to pay your bills or employees.
And without money, your business will eventually be forced to shut down.
How to attract more customers for your business
There’s a very effective and relatively inexpensive (sometimes even free) way to get the attention of customers, both current and potential.
It’s called inbound marketing.
Also referred to as content marketing, inbound marketing is how your company educates customers, answers questions, and builds authority as a trusted brand.
It’s called “inbound marketing” because useful, educational, and engaging content (more about what the means in a bit) put out by your business gets attention (e.g. from a Web search) and pulls customers in to your business.
Traditional marketing, such as direct mail, outdoor advertising, and awesome sign spinners are “outbound marketing” because the advertising business is sending specific outward communications promoting their brand and offerings.
And what’s the best and most efficient way to educate your customers?
What type of content should your business post on your social media and blog?
Your company social media should engage, educate, and ultimately convert more sales.
To do this, begin by thinking about your customer demographics and their specific interests.
Still stumped for good inbound marketing content for your business?
Get your creative juices flowing by contemplating these questions:
- What kind of questions do your customers ask your sales reps and customer service most often?
- What are the trends you are seeing in your industry?
- What types of useful information would your audience read and learn from?
For example, let’s say you’re a company that provides charter fishing tours.
Imagine if you only posted things like, “Sign up today for one of our fishing tours“?
Your Facebook fans and Twitter followers would get pretty bored reading that day after day.
However, what if you posted helpful fishing tips like “How to catch more fish” or “10 must-have fishing lures every real fisherman must have in his tacklebox“.
That would not only get your audience’s attention, but would also provide useful information that your target demographics are interested in learning about.
And if you post enough of this type of good, useful content on a regular basis, then your audience will come to trust you as an authority, and it’s proven that people will buy more often from the brands and companies they trust.
3. Your product or service quality is poor
It’s no secret.
If your product sucks, then chances are good your company will not be a long-term success.
Competitors will provide a superior product, and nobody will buy yours.
Your business will be forced to shut its doors forever, and people will be unemployed.
However, the one positive about putting out a poor product is the fact that you can fix it.
Everything can be improved; it’s just a matter of wanting to improve it and take the necessary steps needed to address the issues, implement corrective actions, and put out the vastly improved product to the market in a timely manner.
How to improve your product quality like a BOSS
There are many resources you can use to learn how to improve product quality.
One popular option is to read books on how to improve product quality, such as:
There are also many useful online guides and handy resources for improving almost any type of business.
For example, let’s say you want to generate more income from your shrimp farming business, then perhaps The Shrimp Farming Guide would provide your fledgling shrimp farm with the keys to success:
Maybe you run your own house or office cleaning business and want to increase your customer base.
If that’s the case, then it might be worthwhile to learn from others who have started a successful cleaning business:
There are even books and resources on how to successfully run a massage therapy business:
Regardless of your business or how long you’ve been doing it, there will come a time where you will need to swallow your pride and ask for help.
Remember, you’re not the only one who has ever started your specific type of business.
Others have done it before, and have become wildly successful.
Most of the time, these folks are also willing to help you out with their knowledge on how to run a successful business.
It’s up to you to find these resources and reach out for help and guidance when you need it.
Or better yet…BEFORE you need it!
2. Your competition is too powerful and destroying your business
Your business might fail if you have one or more competitors who are consistently beating you on price, quality, volume, or location.
If that’s the case, then you also have the option to walk away from the business that you worked so hard in trying to make a success.
How to beat your competition to a bloody pulp
Instead of shutting down your business, you can look for opportunities to innovate.
You can do this by adding a new product, modifying your current offerings, or pursuing a new market.
Modifying your business offerings in response to the market is commonly referred to as finding your next S-curve of innovation and growth. The cycle of product growth and maturity resembles an “S” when displayed on a revenue vs time chart.
Let’s say for example you run an independent submarine sandwich shop.
However, across the street is a Subway, which is one of the most popular sandwich shops in the world.
You could try to compete by offering similar sandwiches and seeing what customers prefer.
However, this may be a dangerous proposition, since the Subway brand is so well-known and they frequently have numerous sales promotions, such as their infamous $5 Footlongs or Januany deals.
Alternatively, you could change your game up by offering healthier options than the processed, salty deli meats commonly found at Subway.
You could offer healthier options such as vegetarian falafel wraps or vegan soy BLT’s.
Subway would not be able to offer such niche specialties, leaving you with that niche market to dominate.
By simply tweaking your approach to what you can offer and by targeting a niche, you will be able to differentiate your business and find the right audience.
In other words, you offer something that your competition cannot, and you both can survive to serve sandwiches another day.
1. You don’t have passion for what you do
Actually, I can’t help you with this particular warning sign.
If you don’t have passion for your business, then how would you expect customers to be passionate about what you offer?
Can passion be taught?
Passion for your business cannot be taught.
It can only be unleashed.
Either you have passion for being an entrepreneur and owning and running your own business…or you don’t.
If you start your own business, then you are not content with a normal, 9-to-5 life.
You instead want a life where you are giving the world a gift from your soul.
That gift? It’s your business.
But if you no longer want to offer the world your gift and passion, then you might as well hang the “For sale” sign on the door, pack up, and retire to Bolivia.
Because once your passion is gone, then it’s most likely gone for good and you will never get it, or your business, back.
In these tough economic times, it is no surprise that so many businesses fail.
However, many business owners see failure as an opportunity to learn about what not to do and how to find their road to success.
By learning to anticipate the signs of business failure well in advance, you will be better prepared to avoid these failures and strengthen your business to achieve continued, long-term success.
Have you experienced any of these warning signs indicating that your business will fail?
What did you do to avoid a business failure?
Leave a comment and please share your knowledge and experience with the world.
James K. Kim
James K. Kim (Jim) is a commercial real estate advisor with Pyramid Brokerage Company of Albany, Inc. in the Capital Region of New York, specializing in helping business owners expand into new locations or sell/lease a commercial retail, office, industrial, or investment property.