How can a small business bounceback from failure?

Iain Dowie

It’s an unfortunate fact of life in the business world, but companies can and do make mistakes. Of course, if your firm is suffering substantial financial losses and is on the brink of failure, it can prove to be hugely distressing. However, if your business is forced to shut down – even if for a short while – you should not take this as a sign you are a failure. Instead, you ought to treat this as an opportunity to demonstrate some ‘bouncebackability’.

Iain Dowie
Iain Dowie

The term, which was coined by football pundit Iain Dowie in 2010, refers to having a fighting spirit and being able to turn what looks like certain defeat into victory. Although the term was originally used to describe a football game, it’s certainly an attitude business owners should look to have. In doing so, you can go about making positive changes that will, with any luck, result in a successful turnaround for your firm.

There are many reasons why a company may encounter difficulties, but it’s important that you know exactly where your firm is/has been going wrong. Of course, the quicker you do than this the sooner you can start to make amends. It’s worth remembering the phrase ‘to assume makes an ass of you and me’ here, so making sure you have hard evidence to back up your thoughts on your business’s failings should ensure you get on the right path once more.

When you have determined what these are, you should share the lessons you have learnt with the rest of your team. That way, everyone can take stock of where and why shortcomings have occurred. You should avoid pointing the finger at individual employees and/or departments. This can in fact create tension within the organisation and limit your chances of turning things around.

As mentioned previously, there are a whole host of reasons why a company may be in a challenging position. No matter which of these apply to your organisation, it’s likely that your return to success will involve working in areas that are fairly closely linked to your current activities. This might be in the shape of improving the level of customer service offered or providing products that allow you to tap into a well-established market that, until now, has been out of your reach. Should you go for the latter, it’s worth holding a focus group session to ascertain how popular these new offerings will be before investing significant sums of money into a new venture. The last thing you’ll want to do is have successive major failures.

If you have lost customers, it is worth being honest and upfront about where you went wrong and what you have done (and intend to do) to ensure things will be different this time. Offering your sincerest apologies and pledging to make changes for the better should improve people’s perception of your business, but to really convince former clients that you are worth their time and custom again you might also want to offer a small gift as part of your PR strategy.

Whether you provide promotional branded mugs, pens or something completely different, these items can serve as a physical token of your apologies and help raise your standing in the eyes of the public. Indeed, research from the British Promotional Merchandise Association indicates 56 per cent of people have a more favourable opinion of a brand or company after being given a promotional gift – and a gift may help to sway the minds of customers who are unsure about giving your business a second chance in your favour.

Have you been involved in a successful turnaround? Leave a comment below and let us know!