Sometimes good brands don’t survive. It’s the law of nature.
When a brand starts to go under, it’s natural for the owner to feel a sense of personal failure. After all, they identify with their brands, infuse them with their energy, and live the business 24/7. Even when they’re not on, they’re on.
Taking advice at such a time isn’t easy. Remember the captain on the bridge in the movie Titanic? Aghast and stricken numb while his crew barked at him and passengers leapt into the waters.
The owner is the one who has to stay with the business until the cold, final plunge.
Sometimes it’s the owner’s fault. Inept management, a flawed pricing strategy, weak pipeline activity, and dozens of other potential cock-ups – all can be the responsibility of the owner.
At other times, it’s outside forces. Increased competition, the economy, deregulation of the market, insufficient working capital, loss of key staff or clients, bad bloody luck…. they all have the potential to drag a company under.
But whatever the underlying issues that set the business on its date with disaster, the owner needs to push himself off from the wreckage and focus on survival.
The lessons learned from this experience are the reward for having had to go through it. Like all lessons, they are best applied fresh.
As soon as the staff are looked after, and the lease, assets and debt issues resolved (made that seem easy didn’t I!) it’s time to plot a successful return.
You have to understand that your next business venture is Resurrection.
The Brand Interventionist Recommends
- Make a list of the lessons you’ve learned, starting with the most painful.
- Make a second list of the things you won’t ever do again.
- Make a third list of the people who kicked you when you were down. Hopefully it is a very short list. Memorize it and destroy it.
- Make a fourth list of the people who stood by you and supported you through this. Keep it forever.
- Write a description of what your ideal post-catastrophe incarnation looks like: Is it consultancy to keep your head in the game until you’re in a better space to thread the needle again? Is it a part-time job that allows you some time to regain your senses? You will no doubt have significant financial pressures, so you may need to have more than one job on the go. One of the toughest transitions for an owner who has lost his business is getting into the groove and culture of an entirely new brand. It’s like jumping from a failed marriage right into a brand new one. The shift takes time and patience from those who take you on.
Soon enough, your business sense and professional skills will find a focus. The cash will start to flow again, your confidence will return, and your thoughts will inevitably turn to the next entrepreneurial push.
Now is the time to go back and read Lists 1 & 2.
All empires fall, but the lessons live on. Be the lesson, not the empire.