CHECKING UP ON BUSINESS
Dealing with the problems of a troubled business often requires solutions that become obvious only when owners are willing to take the time to conduct an honest evaluation of the company: where it has been, where it is now and where it appears to be going.
Businesses, like individuals, have "life cycles." As in life, the success or failure of a business should be determined by evaluating the complete life cycle, rather than focusing on a particular period during which the business may experience financial difficulties. Too often, owners cannot effectively treat a company's problems because their focus is not broad enough. They tend to panic, refusing to take the time to review the entire history of the company and examine the circumstances that existed during periods of the company's success. Therefore, decisions that guide the business in the future are, as a result, usually ill-conceived, short-sighted and inaccurate. The failure of the business could be the ultimate result of such ongoing blind decision-making.
Problem-solving within an operating business first requires the willingness of the problem-solver to devote time to the solution. This simple fact is often overlooked by most of us, as we get wrapped up with solving today's problems in a fast-changing, stressful world. Each year, our world becomes increasingly complex, and we must adapt to this fast-changing world first, as individuals; then as business persons. This will be a real challenge for individuals and businesses who will be forced to compete in an environment they may presently not be equipped for. For many companies and their managers, however, there will be few second chances.
We frequently find, when working with our clients, that unresolved problems were further complicated by the failure of managers to take the time to analyze their company on a regular basis. To a large degree, this refusal to examine the company was responsible for much of the problem in the first place. Managers must be willing to commit to an examination of the health of a company on a regular basis. A prudent person will normally have a physical check-up on an annual basis. This sometimes results in uncovering potential health problems that, if addressed early enough, enables us to live longer, more successful and more productive lives. The famous Mayo Clinic has a department of preventive medicine specifically dedicated to examining an individual's health in an attempt to avert serious problems in the future.
Today's businesses, like individuals, have available to them preventive business problem-solvers. These professionals are usually specialists in specific industries, such as engineers, human resource managers, attorneys and accountants. It only remains for the business owner to identify and use these resources. An annual analysis of the business, in collaboration with outside professionals, may uncover hidden problems that have not even begun to surface. …