As a business and turn around consultant with over twenty years experience working with numerous small and medium size companies, business turnaround services are some of the favorite work I perform. I enjoy the challenge and helping a troubled company to succeed again. Unfortunately, sometimes the business owner comes to me too late, and the turnaround strategy turns into a cutting losses strategy, often ending in bankruptcy, restructuring, liquidation or a forced fire sale (quick sale). The best advice I can give business owners is to hire an experienced business consultant immediately, no matter the stage of company growth, economic situation or company health situation. A business consultant can proactively help head off future disaster, help to grow the business and provide essential strategic direction. A good business consultant can help a business develop and implement an effective business plan so that turnaround services are never needed.
The important parts of turnaround strategy development and deployment are leadership, experience and expertise. The success of a turnaround plan rests with the people on the turnaround team and their ability and willingness to incorporate all of the company’s management team and key employees in the process. It is important to have a process structure which can achieve this. As a business consultant, I understand process, but I also understand the importance of experience and fresh ideas in a turnaround situation. It is the expertise of an experienced consultant who can adapt process to a particular situation in order to find unique, creative, successful solutions to a tough situation, using the strengths and experience of the turnaround team and the insights of company managers and employees, finally putting it all together in an agreed upon, synergistic, effective turnaround strategy, plan and program.
The most important thing a business consultant should do upon entering a turnaround situation is to listen, get to know everyone throughout the organization and give them opportunities and avenues to communicate with the consultant and the CEO. The CEO should be doing the same exact thing alongside the business consultant to instill trust, integrity and openness to the turn around process. If the CEO does not hold a position of high esteem with the employees throughout the organization, it is time for him or her to go and be replaced by either a CEO who specializes in turnaround situations or promote someone from within that has this relationship with the company’s people and can adjust quickly to being an effective CEO. With this trust and integrity established, it is time to get to work.
Steps I take as a turnaround consultant include: learn about the business; meet with advisors, creditors, customers and suppliers; evaluate the problems and issues; identify the most pressing and significant problems; identify opportunities; analysis; resource audit; risk assessment; develop the turnaround solutions and the resulting business strategy; acquire and leverage needed resources; deploy with confidence; and obtain and distribute value.
If you follow a similar process and have strong leadership qualities and skills, then, more often than not, the turnaround plan will be successful. However, it isn’t always so; sometimes it is too little, too late, depending on the activity and stage of the dire situation. If that is the case, a major re-structuring, quick sale, bankruptcy, liquidation or other end result will become the end game. While this can leave a hollow feeling among the turnaround team, you will find that if a good turnaround process was developed and implemented, yet failed, employees and customers will understand. They will adapt and move on and so should you. Holding on to what „could be“ is toxic to any future career or new venture. While many may see this as failure and defeat, as a business consultant, I see this as a learning experience. Something which will not be revisited as owners and employees alike clearly understand, in the end, how they got there. The learning experience is invaluable and should be leveraged into many successes in the future. However, if you follow a good turnaround process, with an experienced turnaround team, the end result will very often lead to success and renewed future growth.