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According to the Small Business Administration, about half of all newly established businesses last five years or more. Only a third survive to the ten-year mark. For a variety of reasons, companies that possess the stamina and skill to endure the early years of growth sometimes flounder as the business matures. Why? In all too many cases, business owners disregard four warning signs.
Core business distraction
You start a business with a great idea. It catches on. Orders start rolling in and profits climb. But somewhere along the line you get distracted. You start diverting resources and time to other pursuits. An example of a company diverting resources comes with the history of the Boeing Company, one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers. In the aftermath of World War I, Boeing built furniture and watercraft to bolster its bottom line. What if, during that season of dwindling revenues, the company had diverted all its limited resources toward sideboards and sailboats? Maybe we wouldn’t be boarding Boeing jetliners today.
Excessive employee turnover
If you’re routinely replacing and training new staff, you may be headed for trouble. Besides the added cost of recruiting, interviewing, and educating new employees, high staff turnover can adversely impact customer service and sales. Too many unhappy customers and your once-thriving business may begin to falter.
Cash flow setbacks
It’s great that your profit-and-loss statement shows an upward trend in net income. But that’s not the whole story. The cash flow statement is often a better tool to diagnose your company’s overall financial health. It shows how much money is coming into the business and where the funds are being spent. For example, you might have an aggressive sales staff that racks up orders. But if customers aren’t paying their invoices in a timely fashion, you may struggle to cover payroll and accounts payable. As the old saying goes, “Cash is king.” Uncollected accounts receivable won’t pay the bills.
Technologies come and go. Customer needs fluctuate. Today’s hot-selling product becomes tomorrow’s obsolete inventory. It’s true that determination and drive are crucial to the success of any business. But if those traits lead to inflexibility in the face of changing conditions, the company may be headed toward bankruptcy.
If you have further questions about strengthening your company’s long-term prospects, let’s have a conversation.