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  • Shachar Perlman

9 Signs your business is in trouble

Happy or Sad emotion

More than once, when I meet business owners, I can catch clear signs showing me that a business is in serious difficulties. If the owner will not act, many times, the business will be closed soon after. Unfortunately, often after revisiting, I found out that I was right. What are these tell tell signs?


"The difference between extraordinary people and ordinary people is a simple as the difference between the two words. Extraordinary people are committed to doing the extra things that ordinary people won't."

Christine Kinney


1 - The owner “knows it all” The owner feels that no one know better than him, so no advice or tips can help. They wouldn’t use a business coach, a consultant, not even a friend advice. They know better. Such state of mind is not healthy. It is extremely important for owners to get help in areas they know less. Their mindset should be set for growth, as stated so nicely in the book Mindset, by Carrol Dweck. Part of not knowing all is listening to your customers feedback, including customer satisfaction and feedback surveys.

2 - The business is empty most of the time Sound wrong, right? Have you ever been in a restaurant, a car dealership or a grocery store and you saw the owner sitting idly by, waiting for customers? A thriving business is busy most of the time. Go in ten times, you would want nine of them to be full of customers. An empty business is a symptom for a bigger problem in the business. Maybe clients don’t appreciate the business/ the owner/the product or the service. Maybe the owner is not active enough in lead generation and lead conversion. Or maybe there are no such systems.

3 - Unclear Message More than once, when I talk to business owner, I find it difficult to understand what is it that they do. What is their unique selling point? When the message is vague, customers don’t understand why they should do business with this place. When an owner says, “I am an accountant”, you feel you heard that a million times. What if they say, “We help high-tech startups to get refunds from the tax authorities”? Sounds like they have an expertise and it’s more appealing to a specific target market.

4 - Lacking flexibility and innovation

Many owners are reluctant to changes. They stay rigid and don’t accept the need for innovation. Jeff Bezos called it day 1 / day 2. Lack of flexibility send a message to customers and employees, that the business is stagnated. Businesses need to adapt and change, hence be flexible.

5 - No system

The business is conducted randomly. The owner is the one to look at, he controls the business to the level of detail. He doesn’t delegate authority or teach anyone else so his employees has no initiative. The result 100% dependency on the owner. He is the business. When the owner is in vacation (if they can allow that) there is a dramatic decline in income. Everything is random, and there is chaos. No consistent service, no routine no repeatability – no system. Certainly not what you see in McDonalds or Domino’s Pizza.

6 - High employees’ turnover

Good business with a track record of stability, and a sense of meaning, culture and values usually has low employees’ turnover. When owners care about their employees, employees take care of the business. Owners that have good recruiting systems, culture, hiring system that aims for values and for attitude, keep their employees for long time. They also have good on-boarding system, mentoring and training.

7 - Happy business

In a successful business you see happy people. You can feel the good vibe there. You won’t see a manager screaming or lashing on an employee. There is a sense of togetherness, like you see in winning sports teams, for example, the Golden State Warriors, NBA champions. You can feel that the minute you enter that place. I sense it in every Starbucks or in Seattle fish market - Fish! Philosophy. They have four principles for work: Play, Be there, Choose your attitude, Make their day. Awesome! The Client can feel it…. He keeps coming back and the business growing.

8 - Order and Cleanliness

A successful, happy business always looks tidy and clean. All things are in place. This is also part of the method. No wonder that one of the basic rules in McDonalds, since day one, was cleaning. When the customer sees a mess and neglec he feels uncomfortable, he leaves. Messy business may indicate unsuccessful business. Every day clean and tidy your workplace.

9 - Generosity

In my opinion, a generous business is a successful business. Be giving will get you back in return. It is important for the business to invest itself – to acquire new equipment and software, to renovate, to renew. When you enter a restaurant and you get coffee with cake, on the house, how does that make you feel? Great. right? Find ways to give more than you promised to your customers. They will appreciate it and will give you back by returning and referring their friend to you.


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