ship in storm, business problems, stormy seas, rough weather

7 warning signs of a failing business

Do you have a failing business? Telling you that no business lasts forever probably won't comfort you much. Your business is your baby... you conceived it, planned it, spent money on it, and worked hard at it. It's human nature to think that it's going to succeed.

I think that most business owners are optimists. But an optimistic person may not recognize the warning signs of a failing business.

7 failing business warning signs...

  1. Taking crazy risks, thinking that they will rescue your business.
  2. Can't meet your obligations, financial or otherwise.
  3. Avoiding opening your bills. That's a habit that needs to be broken. It's like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Just because you don't see those bills doesn't make them go away. Remember..knowledge is power! And sooner is better than later!
  4. Your creditors are beginning to call often. If you can set the clock by their calls, you've got a problem! If you recognize them by area code, ditto! For Gods sake, make sure you have caller id!
  5. "Creative" banking. No, that isn't legal and will land you in very hot water or even in jail. If you know how long it takes the check you write to clear at every bank in town, you're on your way to trouble.
  6. Depression. When you're in the “long, slow swirl” as your business goes down the drain, it's natural to have the blues. See my tips about dealing with business stress here. These work at this point too. But if your business isn't sunk yet, find someone to talk to now. If money's a problem and you don't have health insurance, look up your local government online or in a phone book. Check "mental health". If they can't help, they should be able to help you find someone that can.
  7. Substance abuse. Binge drinking. Gambling is out of control. Irrational behavior. Talk to someone that can help you now, before things get completely out of hand. See my previous suggestion for ideas of where to get help.

You may ask yourself, "How did I get here?" One thing leads to another... sorry. Now I'm quoting 80s bands, aren't I? Seriously, it's easy to let things slide. Here's a list of business sins you may have committed. (I recognize some myself.) Maybe there's still time to change the road you're on.

Before closing a business, click here for ideas about where to find advice. But once you're in the downward spiral, it's hard to change direction. Whatever the cause... whether it's your fault or not, it's a painful time for you. I know cause I've been there.

If you get help AND get lucky, you may still be able to salvage your failing business. But is it worth it? That's your call. Remember, there's no dishonor in closing your business. I don't mean that you should give up at the first sign of trouble. Problems are part of the learning curve.

Try to set aside your emotions, and try to assess your situation.

  • Can your failing business be saved with more work or more money?
  • Can you really do more than you've already done?
  • Can you get more financing without risking more than you can afford to lose?
If your answers to these questions are “NO,” it may be time to close this venture.

Being a business owner isn't for everyone. If you decide that you'd rather work for someone else, that's fine. You may be a better employee because of your own business experience.

But if you loved having your own business, consider your failed business to be an education at the “school of hard knocks.” This hands-on business education will be useful later. Serial entrepreneurs often have many failed businesses before they experience success.

Take the time you need to get over your failed business. Then start planning for a successful second business. After all, you know so much more about running a business now. Your failed business may yet turn out to be a blessing.

Return to Business Failure from Failing Business

Hungry Entrepreneur home from Failing Business