HR & Management

5 most common ailments that businesses suffer from

8 min read

23 August 2014

According to Latitude Solutions, if you're turning over £1m-£10m then your business's health could be at risk.

Just as with human beings, companies can start suffering from syndromes and disorders simply because of age, growth or poor behavioural patterns. “They aren’t necessarily any one person’s fault, they just seem to happen and can get worse over time if left untreated,” the paper explains. 

The good news is that for every business disease there is a cure!

Here are five of them:

1. We-can-work-with-anyone disorder

The company suggests that the underlying cause is “complete loss of vision and focus” and that if left untreated it could lead to a “slow and painful death”. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? 

The company believes that the world is their market, although they still can’t clearly answer why someone should do business with them instead of their competitors and over time the business has changed their core make-up by adding more and more services or products to their existing offering and now aren’t clear about who they really are anymore.

But fear not, there is a treatment. Lattitude Solutions goes as far as to say that “a complete refocus of the business’s core products and/or services is required. You must identify the type of projects or clients that are most profitable to the business and focus on the services/products those particular clients require. Then get rid of the rest.

A new set of testicles may be required to implement this potentially large change so get buy-in from keydecision makers and ensure that staff understand why these changes are happening and why they are so important to the future of the company. Put processes in place to ensure employees follow the new directive.”

2. The-market-dictates virus

More often than not, companies infected by the virus do the best they can with the resources given to them but end up loosing big opportunities to bigger competitors, often give away free advice, “deliver massive PowerPoint slide decks to convince a new client prospect”, and “suffer physically from an aching shoulder after carrying a laptop around to hundreds of meetings”.

There is, however, a distinct way of finding such companies. You know they’ve travelled off the beaten track when a “one in five win is good” and they’ve done things the same way they always have but gain increasingly worse results.

It is suggested that “a complete refocus of sales structures and key messaging” is in order. “The company requires a total change in mindset and serious leadership is required right from the top.

“You must understand that the market doesn’t dictate how your business operates or what it charges, you do. You don’t have to change your prices, you just need to tell the market more clearly why they should be paying them. Remember, there are millions of potential clients and only a few of you. So you are the limited resource and therefore you dictate to the market, not the other way around.”

3. Yes-but-we-really-are-different-syndrome

Watch out for people saying: “Our people are our difference. We’re really friendly, no seriously, we really are. We win all our clients through referral. Our clients love us.” It seems that, more often than not, such people are deemed insane. Indeed, the paper suggests that the underlying cause is “madness”.

Companies suffering from this syndrome are prone to know there’s something wrong with the business but they can’t quite put their finger on it and end up trying the same formula over and over again “getting spasmodic results” because “they have lots of management meetings discussing how to change things but then never do and end up going round and round in circles”.

Inhale, exhale and, according to Lattitude Solutions, repeat: “We are delusional and need help!”

“The business desperately needs to create a brand and a clear message to market, a clear differentiator to attract new clients. It’s vital to be honest about the business. You aren’t different from any other competitor out there unless you can create a structure, process or offering that IS different.”

4. Any-business-is-good-business disease

If you’re going for projects regardless of how small or unprofitable it may be, then head to a doctor immediately. It is highlighted that due to potential “desperation, fear and denial”, certain businesses will discount prices to get work and will always say yes to client requests.

This can, however, lead you to bad customers who won’t pay on time and make staff unhappy due to handling difficult and rude clients. Furthermore, they claim that one of the foremost symptoms of the disease is businesses who suddenly find themselves working with “nice, friendly clients and wondering why the rest always seem to be such ar*eholes”.

The best remedy is by cutting off poor clients and only going for those who will be beneficial to your company. “Ensure that the core management and sales teams are made aware of the financial impact that ‘bad’ clients or projects are having on the business.

“Learn to say no and be firm with new clients from the start when it comes to costs. Be clear on your profit margins and make sure your sales team works to a very clear price structure. Make it good practice not to offer discounts or extras. Clients will come to expect it and you will lose out in the long term.”

If not, apparently, you could face “loss of profit, employee churn, exhaustion and heart attack”.

5. Maybe-when-I’m-not-so-busyitis

Thankfully, if you’ve stumbled across this ailment there won’t be any major after effects, except for more procrastination and lack of drive.

Surprisingly, the paper highlights that most of its symptoms are typical for directors and business owners. This can be anything from keeping busy doing things that aren’t vital to “constantly working IN the business as an employee, rather than ON it as a manager/director”. Furthermore, they’re always working late or on weekends and/or constantly on the phone or checking emails,.

“A quick course of wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee pills, to be taken twice daily”, will help you along the route to recovery. “A new company vision is required urgently to stimulate growth, unless the business is simply there to provide/maintain a certain lifestyle for the owner.

“They must learn to understand that quality, external advice or help costs money and cheap isn’t necessarily the best option for the business and need to identify their comfort zones and summon the strength to challenge and overcome them.”

Image source