How To Save a Failing Small Business

Brad Dorsey

4 min read ·


After working tirelessly and saving money to finally start your business, the last thing you want is to see it fail. Sadly, the reality is that a large number of businesses simply don’t last long—in fact, approximately 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years, and nearly half (45%) don’t make it to year five.

These statistics are humbling for many small business owners, especially if they believe they’ve veered off the path to success. If you’re one such owner, don’t panic. Chances are you still have a way to get back on the right path. You can start by exploring one or more of the options below.

How To Save a Failing Small Business: 7 Options To Try

1. Reduce your expenses.

One of the quickest ways to save a failing business—or at least give you more time to explore other options—is to lower your expenses. While this may seem like an obvious approach, many small business owners don’t give enough attention to really pouring over their books and business processes to see where they can smartly cut corners.

For example, labor is typically the largest expense for most businesses. Have you considered cutting hours or letting one or more staff members go? This can be a tough decision to make, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. You can also look at moving to a smaller office, relying on fewer resources like office supplies, keeping less inventory on hand, and a host of other cost-saving areas. Even small savings here and there can add up to a significant amount.


2. Survey your customers.
Survey your customers

Your customers can provide key insights into your business, so reaching out to them may be just what you need to turn things around. For example:

  • What inspired them to purchase your products over competitors?
  • Why do they continue to frequent your business?
  • Would they value some type of product or service bundle?
  • Are there any additional or complementary products they’d like you to sell?
  • What unmet needs are you not addressing?

The answers to these questions can inform not only your marketing efforts but also your operations. You may identify process changes that could save money (see the previous point) or add value to customers for which they’re willing to pay more.


3. Pivot your business.

​​This option presents a multitude of choices you can make about your business. You could pivot your entire business model. For instance, if you operate an e-commerce store, this may look like changing from dropshipping to holding products (or vice versa).

Another pivot could be changing the products you sell. Maybe it makes more sense for you to sell animal toys instead of fitness equipment. Or perhaps you could transition into financial writing from accounting—this would enable you to make use of the knowledge and skills you’ve already acquired.

You may also try targeting a different type of customer. The products you sell may be more suitable for a different age group, income bracket, gender, lifestyle, or another demographic adjustment.


4. Rebrand your business.

Did you know that 77% of consumers buy from brands that share the same values as they do or that using a signature color can increase brand recognition by 80%? Whether it’s a value shift or asset revamp (website, logo, colors, etc.), rebranding your business could be the difference between succeeding and closing your doors.

Maybe your products look dated to customers, and they’d respond better to a more modern appearance. Whatever the specific look and feel, rebranding could help your customers see you in a new light and reignite customer interest.


5. Network inside and outside of your community.

What are you currently doing to connect with fellow small business owners? If the answer is nothing, you’re missing out. Not only can building relationships with other owners give you important insights and lessons learned, but it can also present opportunities for partnerships and mutually beneficial referrals. Canvas your local areas, attend networking events, and so on. You could even meet potential clients.


6. Choose a niche.

Many small business owners have made the mistake of making products and offering services “for everyone.” However, this is often a fatal mistake. Consider the adage if everything is important, nothing is. The same concept applies to your target market. You must be clearer about who you’re targeting with your products and marketing assets.

​​Choose a niche.

For example, instead of marketing to everyone, perhaps your fitness products are the best fit for active mothers of young children. When these mothers see that your products are made to address their needs, you’ll have a much better chance of making a sale.


7. Develop a new marketing strategy.

If your current marketing approach isn’t delivering the results you need, go back to the drawing board. Do market research, then reassess your strategic approach and tactics. In one respect, consider that there are numerous channels for marketing, and your business may benefit from a select few.

For example, recall the “active moms” target market. Where do they spend their time? Social media sites like Pinterest or Facebook may be a good place to start. Focusing on these channels may result in a larger payoff than your current ones. Just remember to do your due diligence in developing the right marketing strategy.

While some businesses go down the road to ruin, yours doesn’t have to be one of them. Use the above options to breathe new life into your business and achieve the success you’ve dreamt of for so long.

Brad Dorsey