How to Turn Around a Failing Business
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Over the last 20 years, I have been the leader or the No. 2 person in four companies that needed to be resurrected. The skills needed to turn around a company are similar to those needed to build a start-up, but they're not identical. Unlike at a start-up -- where people are jacked up on caffeine and the high of starting something new -- people working in a floundering company look like survivors of war.
At the first turnaround I worked on, I was the 24-year-old COO of a mom-and-pop mall. I worked for a 31-year-old entrepreneur who was a cross between Tony Soprano and P.T. Barnum. The mall, which was outside Philadelphia, had been written up in The New York Times in the 1950s as the eighth wonder of the world, but by the '80s it had fallen on hard times. My boss was a genius at coming up with attractions and selling people on the future, but he was not a good manager, he had no ethics and he spent money like a rapper in a bling store.
For my second turnaround, I was head of a trade association that acquired a sister organization. The founder of the acquired organization was a visionary with good sales skills; he also had poor people-management skills, paid no attention to detail and had no understanding of how to roll out new products and services.
The third turnaround, I was an investor in a group of magazines whose board was made of big-league business leaders. I made the grave mistake of letting everyone know that I had run newspapers and could, without a doubt, fix the problems of the magazine. I had visions of being Caesar returning home after conquering another country, foreseeing the board and staff showering me with flowers and coin of the realm.I thought that with my past successes, with my contacts, creativity and leadership style, I couldn't miss. A lot of people thought that, because one of the leaders of one of the magazines I was about to take over said having me join the team was like getting the first pick in the NBA draft. Although I shook things up and improved the situation by getting us back to profitability, I didn't come close to meeting my own expectations or those of the board and employees. By my fourth turnaround, I was a humbled, methodical, process-oriented leader who had no illusions or delusions of grandeur. A visionary entrepreneur with the scruples of a con man targeting the elderly and widows brought me in to "grow" the company. The truth was that there were two sets of financials records, one telling the truth and one perpetuating the lies of the founder and a distrusting, but talented, group of people. What I am going to share with you is what I learned from these experiences that led me to write a book called
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV