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I Didn’t See It Coming: 5 Ways to Really Mess Up a Good Business

It appears that confidence among small business owners is rising in 2014. I guess after six years of a brutal recession and sluggish recovery, business owners are seeing signs of an improving economy. Why then would many of them take chances on falling back into a deep hole?

One of the problems with an improving economy for small business owners is that they forget about their problems. Increased sales and profits can easily mask concerns with the company. If your business is on solid ground, take the time NOW to review five key areas of your business. Anyone of them can wreak havoc and send you back into your own, personal recession.

How to Avoid Starting a Sentence with “I Didn’t…”

1. I Didn’t Back Up My Data – If your computers were destroyed in a fire or flood today, could you be up and running again tomorrow? How much data would you lose? Backing up data to the cloud has never been so inexpensive or so easy to set up. Tim Fisher, a PC Support Expert, just reviewed 38 Online Backup Services. Find one that works for you and sleep better at night.

2. I Didn’t Protect My Data – There are thousands of stories of business owners who lost confidential data to hackers that broke into their systems. Don’t think that your business is too small or remote for online thieves especially if you handle clients’ financial or confidential data. Purch’s web site, Top 10 Reviews, recently wrote an article on The Best Internet Security Suites for Small Businesses.

3. I Didn’t Have the Right (or Enough) Insurance – When was the last time you had an insurance checkup? Just as you go to the doctor for an annual physical, you should take time to meet with your insurance agent to see if you have the right coverage for your business. You don’t want to find out that you had insufficient insurance coverage AFTER disaster strikes.

4. I Didn’t Monitor Cash Flow – Cash is the fuel that drives your business. If you run out of cash, you need to find more soon or risk going out of business. The way to avoid this problem is by monitoring your cash flow (Receivables and Payables). Just as your gas gauge tells you when your car is running low on fuel, you need a system that tells you when your business is running low on cash (e.g. QuickBooks or your business checking account). If your receivables are past due, then you need to make arrangements with your vendors on pushing back the date they will receive their money. It’s better to have that conversation in advance than after the date the money is due. Also, if your customers are a day late in paying you, make a friendly call to see when you can expect payment. Don’t wait a week or two before making the call. This is how most business owners get into trouble with cash flow.

5. I Didn’t Have a GPS Plan – Everyone loves the GPS feature on their smartphones. It tells them where they want to go, the best route and how long it will take to get there. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a similar app for your business? Until someone invents such an app, we will all have to live with putting together our own plans of where we want to go with our companies (e.g. revenue in 2014), how we plan on getting there (new business vs. increased revenue from existing clients) and what it will take to get us there (e.g. hire more salespeople, introduce new products). The key to success with your business GPS plan is actually using it and making changes, when necessary, so that you stay on course. If you write a plan and then stick it in your filing cabinet, what good will it serve you?

The “I didn’t” excuses are among the worst for once-thriving companies that are suddenly on the brink of going out of business. Always make sure you take time to do things right; you may not have the opportunity to do them over.

Brian Moran

Brian Moran

Contributor at Fundera
As the founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates, Brian helps entrepreneurs run better businesses. He was formerly the executive director at The Wall Street Journal, overseeing the financial and small business markets across the WSJ franchise. From 2002 to 2010, Brian ran Veracle Media and Moran Media Group, content companies in the SMB market.
Brian Moran