Successful businesses have to have a great idea, a great product or service, and great customer relations. If you know any successful entrepreneurs, or you are one or aspire to be one yourself, you’ll know that this triad of must-haves fall into the “necessary but insufficient” category. Even established businesses have their vulnerabilities, and fledgling enterprises certainly do. The good news, however, is to be found in the old aphorism that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Here are some common problems that could easily, if left unrectified, seriously damage your business.
Being a little too relaxed over company finances is as good a place to start as any. Yes, you might need that IT upgrade, but was it necessary to entertain a potential client at an eye-wateringly expensive restaurant? Yes, it’s good to have a reliable company car, but is a top-of-the-range, high-end luxury vehicle the wisest option? Small excesses add up to big excesses unless you’re keenly on top of financial management. No one wants to end up having to cut back on essential items because extravagantly silly expenses have drained their costs budget, or risk alienating an entire workforce because they haven’t got the funds to meet worker paydays. That’s how essentially good businesses can choke and die, or place their employees’ jobs and livelihoods in jeopardy.
Being blind to employee disgruntlement is another major issue. Yes, executives do occasionally have to give honest but negative feedback to members of staff. Top hazards are being too blunt, thwacking a direct report with the unvarnished truth, or being too formulaic (e.g. a positive remark followed by a negative followed by a positive just comes across as inept and mechanical). Negative feedback needs to be handled truthfully but also kindly and sensitively – it’s an opportunity to learn and adapt, not an occasion to feel ashamed or disciplined.
However, there are occasions when it makes sense to “keep people good.” If you suspect that some of your employees are consistently underperforming or calling in sick because they’re hungover or recovering from a “recreational” bender of some sort, it may be time to take clear and firm action to deliver a message: employees should not turn up for work (or take time off) because of drug or alcohol intoxication. Companies such as Matrix Diagnostics, a specialist drug and alcohol testing outfit, can offer fast and accurate (and totally non-invasive) oral fluid lab test services. These services may become a necessity to safeguard one’s employees, premises and business operations. If employees have turned to alcohol or drugs for stress relief, good companies might do well to offer them alternative sources of support. Keeping the lines of honest communication open vertically and horizontally in the company could help prevent the slide into chronic substance misuse (and poor business performance).
Executives have an obligation to have an inspiring presence if they want to get the best out of their employees and their investors. Great ideas, products and services have to be maintained and innovated. Don’t let obvious early signs of potential damage to your business grow in size.