That really does depend on a lot of different factors. The question is, if it was previously successful, then what changed? Did the management of the company change which thus created a chain reaction of events that let to the company being run in a completely different style to when it was most successful? Perhaps the level of management oversight decreased because the owner decided to take a much needed step back from the business leaving it in the hands of a General Manager, and that GM is not performing. If this is the case, then the company needs new management or increased oversight from the owner to make it successful and profitable once again.
On the other hand, maybe the markets have changed and the company has failed to keep up with the changing tides. It’s possible that the product or service it was delivering has become obsolete due to a new technological advancement, or a new piece of legislation that restricts the parts of the business that were once successful – new H&S laws, or new guidelines on health and medicine would be good examples of this; tobacco companies are being hit very hard at the moment due to the advent of e-cigarettes and the changing mood around whether or not smoking is socially acceptable.
Which leads to another possibility; perhaps the environment and social sentiment has shifted, meaning people simple don’t want what you’re selling any more.
Here’s the thing though; times change. The only thing that is absolutely guaranteed in life is change! It’s important that all businesses take the approach of disrupting themselves before they eventually and inevitably get disrupted either by the market, new technology, change in legislation or just an evolution of people needs, wants and desires as societies shift and merge. Any business who becomes stuck in their ways and too fixated on one particular product or service with little or no innovation will eventually die.
Can these businesses be saved? Sure they can! But that might require a complete re-thinking of the whole business model, product and route to market. More and more in this day and age we’re seeing the necessity for companies to be flexible, nimble and almost in a constant state of flux. Apple Computers is a great example of this – just look at how the company has grown and evolved over time. It’s product offerings now are far removed from the first Apple computers by necessity – if they had failed to continue their evolution through innovation then they simply wouldn’t be here with us today, never mind becoming one of the most valuable companies on the planet.
Any failing business can be fixed, whether it was once successful or not. The real question is how far you are prepared to go in doing so, and your ability and willingness to accept a world where constant and never ending improvement – change – has become the norm for everybody. Things are changing now at a faster rate than they ever have in recent human history; the rate of change is increasing exponentially, and we are each seeing more and more change, in more significant ways, in our single lifetimes than our ancestors experienced across centuries. We have no choice but to be steadfast on our goals but massively flexible in our approach – anyone who isn’t able to do this will struggle to survive in this brave new world, never mind thriving in prosperity.
In short, fixing a broken business is easy – the question is, are you prepared to fix your thinking so you can think at a level where you can solve the problems you face? A poignant question for both business and life.