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CEO Advisor® Newsletter
July/August 2015

7 Turnaround Strategies to Revive a Distressed Business

Unfortunately, the health of a business is not guaranteed forever. Virtually all small and mid-size business owners and CEOs face the daunting task of managing the recovery of a highly distressed or dying business. Every business during the course of its existence will experience a near death experience. This is a period characterized by hard business conditions, low sales, low morale, low cash, low market share, and low innovation.

Some recover from this and bounce back stronger than before and others simply do not. It is very important to seek help, such as a business advisor, who can help you plan, make the extremely tough decisions and execute your plan to turn your company around.

There are many factors responsible for this near death experience, including those that are self-inflicted like a major project failure, lack of information to manage the business or incompetent management, poor sales management, or poor financial controls. These are generally termed internal forces. While those that are not self-inflicted like government regulations, economic recessions, low-priced competitors or natural disasters are termed external forces.

How to Revive a Failing Business

If you are struggling with a failing or dying business, here are 7 turnaround strategies to help you resurrect your business.

1. Realization of the Situation

You must first identify the real problem(s) and realize there are issues that need addressing with a high sense of urgency. You need to get committed to making the needed changes and seeking the help you need from a seasoned advisor that will help you with the many extremely tough decisions that you will face.

a. Strategy - Look closely at your business strategy to ensure your business is relevant, focused and managed tightly.

b. People - Are the right people running the company? Are the right people in the right places? Are employees committed to organizational success? Are employees properly incentivized to share in the ongoing success of the firm?

c. Customers - Are customers satisfied? Do they know, like and trust your brand? Is the business focused on profitable customers versus unprofitable and difficult customers? Are you targeting the right customers?

d. Product - Are you offering high quality, innovative products and services? Can the business better utilize technology to create better products, reduce costs and improve competitive advantages?

e. Process - Is the company performance-driven and goal-oriented? Are there processes and procedures in writing to enable the business to improve?

f. Finance - Are cash flows sufficient to sustain ongoing commitments and operations? Does this business have excessive debt and why does it have excessive debt? Are gross margins and pricing proper to optimize profits? Do you know your break-even point? Is your sales team efficient with strong sales management?

Realizing your situation is a critical turnaround strategy; without it all other things are just frantic moves that will yield little results. Before you begin to act, know why, what and how distressed your business is, and get the help you need to "right the ship."

2. Redefine Your Strategy

After realization comes re-definition. Realization determines what's wrong with your business and re-definition is putting the business back on track. This is when you go back to the drawing board to set the overall direction for the company. This is where you create the Turnaround Plan. Be brutally honest with yourself and your advisors every step of the way. Failing in business is often a result of not having a clear direction or being highly diluted and inefficient so pinpoint the issues openly and honestly.

3. Re-Engage People

You can't turnaround a distressed or dying business without talking about the employees. People make or break your business, and accountability is vital to your success. To resurrect a dying business, get the right people on board and get the wrong people off, period! This requires proactive, tough decisions to structure the personnel and management to execute your go-forward plan.

4. Innovate

Lack of innovation is one of the warning signs of a dying business. It is impossible for a business to remain relevant in the market if it fails to introduce new products and services or update existing ones. People change, markets change, technology changes and so must your business. If you refuse to change and do not innovate your products and services, you are doomed. To bring your dying business back to life, focus on innovation and devise a written plan to generate a high ROI.

5. Branding and Marketing

One of the consequences of a distressed or dying business is the negative impact it has on the brand. Your customers begin to lose trust in the brand as their satisfaction level declines. Negative marketing spreads and the brand is no longer liked or trusted in the market. To correct this negative association with the brand, you have to make fast and definitive changes.

6. Finance and Cash Flow

A detailed focus on your finances is critical. Money is a must to any business, and one of the most obvious signs of a distressed or dying business is a lack of money. Insolvency is a situation you must avoid. If you can't meet your financial obligations and are already insolvent, you must create a plan to turn things around immediately. External funding can be a very daunting task, especially if you are insolvent. Start sourcing for funds from within the business. Only after you have exhausted these internal funding options should you seek external sources.

7. Execution and Tough Decisions

After all is said and done, there is no way to bring your dying business back to life by mere words; you need to make the commitment and get busy. You need to both rethink and rework the way you are used to operating.

Many business owners are engaged in a random work approach rather than a performance-driven or goal-oriented work approach to their business, and execution is the key to your opportunity for success.

These critical processes must have an accountable owner and must have a goal or key indicators to track performance. This will take discipline, documenting your plan, experience, expertise and execution to turnaround your distressed or dying business.

CEO Advisor, Inc. has the expertise to help you make the tough decisions and execute your plan to turn your company around. Contact the business advisor Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO of CEO Advisor, Inc. at (949) 629-2520, by email at or visit us at for more information.

7 Key Factors to Grow Your Business to the Next Level

Below are 7 key factors to grow your business to the next level and build value as you grow:

      1. Planning - Have a Clear Vision. Know where you want to go and be very clear about it. This involves strategy and defined goals to realize your vision. Without this, there is a tremendous loss of time and money.
      2. Forecasting - Forecasting for the current and upcoming years enables you to think through your business thoroughly, set goals, plan effectively and better budget and manage toward higher profits. When forecasting, refine your business model, your pricing and gross margin targets. Relook at operating expenses and targets for the right level of profitability. Get objective expert advice in this area to ensure your growth and success.
      3. Strong Management Team - Don't do it all on your own. Make sure you have a reliable and competent management team around you to complement your own skills and expertise. If you cannot afford the management team you need today, bring in a seasoned business consultant that can do some heavy lifting for you - hands-on work and expertise for an interim period of time to achieve your goals.
      4. Put Processes and Procedures in Place - Document your processes and procedures to ensure your on-going success. This will enable you to run your business more profitably, easier for new employees to get trained faster, will make the business more efficient, and will make your business more valuable and attractive to investors and acquirers. A business consultant can accomplish this very efficiently.
      5. Innovate - Innovation is important for all businesses. Focus on how you could do something differently to generate a higher ROI for both you and your customers, make your customers more profitable, reduce time, be better than your competitors, and develop a more effective business model.
      6. Sales Strategy - Your sales strategy is critical to your growth and profitability. Pinpointing your target markets, determining your most efficient and cost-effective sales structure, sales compensation, product mix, gross margins and sales goals are all critical to your success.
      7. Build Value - Ensure you have pricing and a business model that maximizes sales, margins, profits and value for a successful exit when you decide to sell your business.

CEO Advisor, Inc. has the expertise, coupled with hands-on advice, to help you increase sales and profits and grow your business to the next level.  Contact Mark Hartsell, MBA, CEO of CEO Advisor, Inc., for a free initial business consultation at (949) 629-2520, by email at or visit us today at for more information.


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