Signs Your Company is Failing (And What to Do About It)

POST DATE Dec 23, 2016

AUTHOR Udo Jahn

It’s that time of year when everything is annoying. There’s too much running around and too much to prepare for the holidays. It’s always a stressful time, even though it’s supposed to be about enjoying time spent with loved ones and taking time to reflect on things. Due to all the built up stress, I often mind myself just reflecting on the fact that people should learn to drive better. 

Getting a cold is also a tradition this time of year, at least for me. Someone coughed in the same room I was in and that’s all it took. With the toll that holiday stress takes on your body, germs have it easy. Once I realized I was coming down with it, I went out to the store right away to get some medication and hopefully prevent it from getting any worse. 

People all over the world take medication, or seek medical care, every day to help cure illnesses because we hate being sick. Being sick slows us down, makes our minds fuzzy and we just plain don’t feel well. It’s really no fun. Obviously!

Yet when it comes to business, there are many companies out there that seem to tolerate, or even enjoy, being sick. They must like it, because they never seem to do anything about it. They don’t seek care. Therefore, they eventually succumb to their sickness and fail.

When I say a business is sick, I mean that it has the following easily identifiable symptoms: 

Sluggish

They take a long time to make a decision, even simple ones like who to order printer toner from. This is like when you have a cold; your brain is cloudy and you can’t remember things… such as how you were going to finish this sentence.

Angry

They blame the entire world for their problems. This is like when you’re mad at the person sitting beside you that day on the train who gave you a cold. You weren’t involved at all, it was all the other person’s fault for being sick in the first place. “Ugh,” you think to yourself, as you sit down next to someone on the train.

Miserable

They grumble at their problems instead of thinking of ways to solve them. This is like when  people don’t bother to buy cough drops or sinus medication when they’re sick, and instead just sit there in misery, saying things like, “Why me?!” 

Emotional

They whine and cry all the time about the bad things the world is handing them, like the world just hands over the economy like a present and says, “Here you go, companies. It’s awful right now.” This is similar to people who always blame the world for the things that happen in their lives, like if they get injured skiing on a Double Black Diamond route when they’ve never even been skiing before. 

Confused

They don’t know what’s going on in their own company, or what to do about it. This is like when people can’t identify they’re ill at all. They know something is wrong, but they don’t know what to do about it.

Don’t get me wrong: being ill is an awful thing, and I don’t want to make fun of it. Illnesses need to be treated quickly or they can lead to some very serious consequences. Right?!

We treat personal illnesses as being very serious – as we should – and we deal with them right away. The problem is that when a business is sick, in many cases we don't do anything! The business or its employees simply ignore the illness and try to carry on. You know who they are. You encounter them every day. They are the companies who refuse to invest in technologies that are going to save them time and money in the long run, and as a result, make them competitive. It’s amazing how many sick companies there are. I have personally seen more than my fair share of them. 

Being a “sick business” is not limited to any one industry or sector, there are many sick companies in every possible category of business. And, some very successful companies become sick every now and then, but they seek treatment and get their company back on track. 

The real problem is when a company is sick, and they either do nothing about it, or are in denial about being sick in the first place. They carry on doing the same things without seeking help, like a business coach or professional organization, and without investing in things like technology or people that will make them better. They try to “tough it out”, so to speak. 

If you felt your company’s sickness in your own body, I’m sure you would seek medical help. It’s time for sick companies to do the same, even if no one is personally feeling the effects. Sick companies should be seeking out “medication”, in the form of new equipment, new operational methods, new ideas and anything else they can think of that will make their business better.

Does your company have any of the above symptoms? Then it’s time to get to work.

What do you think some other signs of a sick business are? Let me know in the comments.

Author: Udo Jahn

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