How Do You Save a Failing Company?

How do you save a failing company? Eric Siu discusses on this new video. Write questions in the comments below! IG: @growth_everywhere FB:

Full Transcript of The Video

Speaker 1: Hey, everyone. Today, I want to talk about the concept of saving a failing company. This company that I run right now, Single Grain, is a marketing agency and before I came in, it was an SEO only agency. Even backing up before that, what we're doing was we were building links for clients. We create content for clients as well but when Google Penguin hit with its update, the tactics that Single Grain was using were no longer working. This is before my time actually. I was actually at a startup before this and decided to come in and help out the company, see if I can help out.
What we saw was that we needed to make a fundamental shift in what we're doing. Think of it this way. If you have a company that's on its way down, if your company is at negative 100 and you're trying to go to 100, you need to make $200 to get there. I’ll put it in another way. If you're investing, if you lose 50%, you got to make 100% to get back to break even, so it's fundamentally harder to go from negative to up.
What we saw was that we were in trouble. We had to make a shift because what we're doing no longer work but at the same time, a lot of the people that we had in the company were only good at SEO, so we wanted to shift more into paid advertising to content marketing as well. Imagine you have a lot of employees that are good at SEO but you're shifting away from it. That's something that's really scary and that's something that can really rattle people when you're trying to make that kind of shift.
One thing is when a company is failing and you have to make a shift, my recommendation is to communicate and over communicate. Tell everyone what's going on and make the proper adjustments quickly because one mistake I made even though I did make some layoffs at the time was I didn't make enough layoffs quickly. You have to move swiftly. You have to move very quickly. Speed is really important when a company is going down and what I … I came into the company for a year. I was helping out and a year later, I took over the entire company by working on a deal with the original founder. What happened there it was from that point we decided that we need to just focus on paid advertising, which is that's the priority of our focus right now and then the other side is we still do a SEP where we actually do it a different way now that actually works really well for our clients.
My first recommendation is to make sure that you are not moving too slowly. Don't try to play God. What I did at the time was I kept people on payroll because I didn’t feel like it was right for them to lose their job. I wanted to hold on for them to them as long as possible and that's a fundamental mistake. If your company is no longer doing that, you have to make the hard decisions to cut them quickly. It's not on you to hold everyone down because if the company goes down and everyone else goes down, that's ultimately your fault at the end of the day.
Now, the second thing is when a company is going down and you have to make a shift, well, from here I mean, you also have to look at your processes too. A lot of the processes that we had, we had a lack of processes. We had no financial processes. I didn't have any insight as to what was going on, so most of the time, you're going to hear me say this a lot. Most of the time, 95% of the actually, it's a process problem. Five percent of time, it's a people problem. You hire bad people, that's on your hiring process. It’s not really on the people. You brought them in. It's totally your fault at the end the day.
What I learned there is number two, you have the right processes in place, that way people can come in and duplicate these processes so you're not chasing people around all the time to make sure that they're doing the right thing. If you have this document and you have the right screencast in place, it make things a lot easier. Now, number three is to make sure that you are actually focused in one area. For me, at the time, one of the mistakes that we made was, “This SEO thing is not working but we're going to try to do content marketing and pay-per-click at the same time. We're going to try to become full-service.”
Now, if you think about companies that first started like Apple, they started with a computer first and then they started going into adding on other things. They started to add in the iPod. They started to add in … Well, it was the shuffle first to the iPod to the iPhone and they have all these other products. They have services now as well. Focus on one area first and then you can move to these other areas. Once you have one thing that's working really well, the mistake that a lot of companies make is they try to do too many things at once and I like to say that success is like a sphere. You start in the middle and on the edges is success and if you keep going towards one area, you're going to hit success eventually but if you keep going around and around and around, you keep changing directions all the time, you're never going to reach the edge. That's one big thing that I learned.
One other thing, I think this is number four, is that you have to be really persistent and you can't let your emotions get to you because times are going to be tough. It's going to be really rocky. I remember when I first took over, the company was negative and to have to bring it from negative to over seven figures again took a long time. It was really nerve wracking but for me, I continued to believe in myself and I stay persistent the whole time. I remember even getting on call with our outside accountants, so call the accountant and the chief operating officer and the CEO and they said, “Hey, it might be time to shut it down.”
I've got this call before. It might be time to shut it down, basically saying, “Hey, this is not working. We've been doing it for a while. I think you should just have to shut it down,” but as long as you believe in yourself, worst case scenario, you fail, so what? Worst case scenario, you fail, the business goes down. Okay, well, guess what. Pick yourself back up and go again.
Persistence is probably my biggest recommendation here because a lot of people tend to give up too early whether it comes to running a company, whether it comes to marketing or when it comes to product, they give up too easily and it just doesn't work for them. When it comes to save a failing company, there's a lot of things that we went through and I'm really grateful for but you just have to stick with it, you have to keep a level head, try to keep your emotions under control because if you're out of control in front of all your other team members, they're going to see that and they're going to start to lose confidence and they’re going to leave.
Now, one of the other things I learned was that some people actually lost confidence in me. When people start to quit, that basically means that they're firing you as a CEO, so when a company's failing, again, I had to understand that that’s ultimately on me because we're trying to do too many things at once. I remember at one point, somebody said that there was a lack of vision. It's because we're trying to do too many things. We're trying to do these other services. We're trying to do, again, PPC, content marketing. We're trying to do even get into video as well. At the same time, we're doing like a redesign of the site, we're hiring more people. It's just all over the place.
These are good lessons learned and it's the lack of processes that got us to where we were in the very beginning and then afterwards, figuring out how can fix all these, fix the processes and then from there, focus on one base and then over communicate with the team to make sure that we're doing the right thing. Anyway, I hope this was helpful. Let me know what you think in the comments and we'll see you in the next video.

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