3 Tips To Recover A Sinking Startup
by Arina Smith Startups 04 December 2018
If you’re new to entrepreneurship, the ongoing responsibilities can be overwhelming. It’s easy to make mistakes experienced entrepreneurs wouldn’t make. For example, if you need additional capital, you might choose to apply for loans based on low-interest rates.
After all, if you’ve already taken out a loan or two, the last thing you want is more debt with a high-interest rate. The problem is, if the interest rate is the only factor you consider, the funds you get may not cover your needs, sending you further into debt or early bankruptcy.
Startup statistics show entrepreneurship to be a rough and risky path. Nearly half of all startups don’t survive beyond their fourth year, and 46% of all failures are due to incompetence. If your startup is sinking, follow these tips to increase your competence, and avoid becoming part of those statistics.
1. Get financial and business counsel before taking out additional loans:
If your business is sinking because you’re running out of money, you probably want to take out another loan or two. Don’t do it without financial and business guidance. Especially if your credit is perfect and you can get approved for just about any loan you want. The biggest danger is taking out a loan with early payment penalties and realizing your business isn’t salvageable. That’s not something a financial advisor can tell you, and it’s why you need both financial and business counsel.
Consult with a financial expert on the type of loan you should take out, as well as the terms you should agree to. There are predatory lenders out there with unfavorable terms, and you don’t want to sign an agreement with them.
While looking at available startup business loans, keep in mind that a financial expert can help you choose the right kind of loan and advise you on making the best use of your funds based on what the loan allows. Some loans restrict what the money can be used for. The loan you get will need to cover your startup costs and give you some room for error. If you’re not sure how much you’ll need, don’t commit to borrowing money without financial counsel.
Also, remember that applying for a business loan will show up on your credit report, so gather as much information as possible, but consult with an expert before submitting applications.
2. Hire an expert to take over your company:
If you’ve been scouring the internet for strategies to save your failing startup, that’s a sign you’re in over your head. Believing your entire business can be saved by strategies you can apply yourself is naïve and will keep you in denial. Strategies that can save your business will require bringing in expertise from the outside. Don’t just hire someone to advise you. Hire someone to take over your business and give them carte blanche and keep your opinions to yourself. You’re already sinking; what have you got to lose?
If you have a small team, the first thing your expert will do is look at your team and do damage control. First, they’ll fire non-performers. Next, they’ll eliminate unnecessary roles. If you hired your cousin, but they aren’t fulfilling a real role, expect them to get let go. Then they’ll fill vacant and necessary roles with capable people who demonstrate skill, attention to detail, and follow-through. They’ll implement structure, rules, and order within the team and hold people accountable.
Sometimes reworking the structure of your team is all it takes to recover. Other times, it’s only the beginning.
Remember, if the experts you approach aren’t interested in helping you, despite your willingness to pay their required salary, you might be in more trouble than you think. A true leader is committed to results and would never take on a project they can’t turn around.
3. Don’t give up too soon:
Before throwing in the towel, consider the advice Craig Morantz shares with Fortune.com. Morantz was hired by Kira Talent as the CEO and had difficulty gaining traction with the company’s target audience of recruiters and hiring managers. His team was tired and unsure, but ready to push through.
His team took time to define what they do well – helping people access communication skills, bring applicants to life, and provide the space for small teams to meet thousands of applicants without conducting in-person interviews. Next, they brainstormed untapped markets that could benefit from those services. They decided to move into the higher education space, and the company was reinvigorated.
It wasn’t their services, products, or team that was the problem. They were targeting the wrong market.
How do you know the difference between incompetence that’s recoverable or a startup that really isn’t working? Morantz says you should never give up on your startup because you’re scared, tired, angry, unsure, or resentful. “If you’re thinking about dropping your startup, you’re probably not giving yourself enough credit,” he says. “Instead of walking away, take a step back. Look at what your company does well and think about how it can be implemented in a different way. If you’re willing to pivot away from what’s not working and embrace what could, then your startup might just go farther than you ever imagined.”