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How to Rescue Your Business in A Financial Crisis

How to Rescue Your Business in A Financial Crisis

No one goes into business with the goal of failure. Yet, it happens to an unfortunately large amount of businesses. Sometimes you wind up having travelled too far down the wrong road. It may have been a large problem like incompetent management or a mistake in your strategy. Too many unnoticed small errors can also land the business in trouble. Regardless, the only choice at the end is to sink or swim.

If you are not quite ready for bankruptcy, you still have a few options.

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Be Honest with Yourself

Money is one of the most difficult areas to be honest with yourself about. It is easy to make up excuses. Sure, your liquidity might be poor, but look at all your assets! Leave these thoughts behind. A financial crisis is not the time to make excuses about your situation. It is not time to blame the economy or how competitors are driving down prices. Your business may be a reflection of the economy. But, your financial success also depends on your leadership and your ability to be honest about your finances.

The more honest you are about your financial health; the more options you will have when you try to remedy it.

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Act Now, But Act Smart

Identify the source of the most pressing issue sending your company into financial disarray. Then, tackle it. Do not dance around it. Treat it like you would a sliver in your foot, and remove it before it does any more damage. This step is hard for many business owners because it may mean making difficult decisions. Yet, in many cases, these are decisions that should have been made long ago. Now that your business is in a financial crisis, there is no space for sentiment, unless sentiment happens to pay the bills.

Be certain that the decision you are making is smart. Do not cut off an essential vendor or skimp on the quality of your product. Look for those decisions that are a boon to your company, but will not directly impact the way you serve your customers.

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Try Renegotiation Before the Axe

Once you have identified your critical areas of need, and you made those difficult decisions, look towards other problem areas.

Instead of axing anything costing you too much money, try renegotiating your contracts or plans instead. This is a process that normally occurs during a Chapter 7 filing for bankruptcy, but you need to preempt this situation. Saving money on essential functions now can help you climb out of your financial pit. It will also put you in a better position if treading water results in the opportunity to move forward with your business.

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Change Your Business Model

Changing your business model is not the first last ditch attempt to use; however, it is a useful plan. Take a hard look at your current business model. Look for potential updates and improvements to help you get back on your feet, and prevent financial disasters in the future.

Look at your target market, and understand how they are changing and evolving. How can you better reach your customers now, and in the near future? Are you reaching the right customers? Can you adapt your product to better suit your customers’ needs, and solve their problems? All these are questions that could help you restructure your business model to function better now and in the future.

Financial distress does not need to be the end of the road, and bankruptcy should be considered only in the event that there is nothing else to be done. Remember to be honest with yourself about your finances and what got you there. Even if you go under, you will have learned valuable lessons for next time.

Featured photo credit: Vicktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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