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8 Ways to Determine If You’re Working at a Company on the Brink of Failure

Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at May 9th, 2018

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Failure Happens

We all recognize that companies downsize, get bought out, declare bankruptcy, or bomb entirely all the time, but it could never happen to you. Right?

Wrong. Nothing in life is set in stone, and it’s prudent to be ready for worst-case scenarios. Look for these eight hints that you’re at a struggling business, and avoid losing out before it’s too late. Failure can happen to any business.

8. Changes in Vision

Abrupt vision modifications warn that your business is losing its way. If your company’s vision is to sell the greatest widgets, but that suddenly changes to offering the most affordable widgets, then that’s a significant modification. Can businesses change their visions and their foci? Of course they can; this much happens all the time. However, when a change is abrupt and does not seem to be the result of any preplanning, then it is a cause for concern.

7. Management Leaves

It’s a foregone conclusion that an executive will read disaster in your business’s future much earlier you can. One person in management leaving for greener pastures or following their bliss elsewhere is one thing. However, it is quite another if the exodus becomes a stampede.

6. Clients Leave

Prominent clients leaving are hints that something bad is on the horizon. One client leaving can be a parting of the ways due to other things. And it can signify someone will lose their job if they lost a really big account and they can receive the blame for that. But just like with management departing, look for trends and numbers here.

5. Talent Leaves

Are your best and brightest coworkers leaving for better opportunities? Such exits could mean that your company is going to pieces – especially if they’re not promptly replaced.

swatch - 8 Ways to Determine If You're Working at a Company on the Brink of Failure

4. Where are the Perks?

Check the details. If the business used to provide sandwiches at all meetings, but they change to snacks or maybe nothing, take it as a warning.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a company tightening its belt to satisfy its mission, naturally. But employee perks going away without explanation is a cause for concern.

3. Declining Media Coverage

It’s unlikely to expect that every news report, review or article about your business will be 100% favorable. And that is okay. However, a steady stream of bad press, on the contrary, can stop it in its tracks. Even a slight yet steady trickle of negativity can seriously harm its chances of long term growth. And no media coverage at all? That can really show you’re at a struggling business.

2. A Strange Feeling in the Air

Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. A rise in office stress, regular high-level, closed-door meetings from which everyone comes out shaken and silent, and a general decrease in openness and communication are all signs of doom. Listening for whispers, too, and look for people taking long lunches or having to take their calls outside. Of course anyone can have personal calls and need to take them private. Also, any office will have some form of whispering gossip. But when you combine that with what is essentially bad mojo, then it might be something more. A lot more.

1. Decreasing Business Credit Scores

Do you want an immediate, insider’s look at your business’s general condition? Check out its business credit score. Companies with low business credit scores are felt to be untrustworthy about managing their payments. Dropping scores can harm your business’s chances of obtaining funding down the road, and thus your chances of obtaining paid.

You can get any company’s business credit score, as the Fair Credit Reporting Act does not apply.


Companies don’t last forever; none of them are ‘too big to fail’. Know these warning signs so you can get while the getting is good. Business failure does not have to become personal failure. Share this and tell your friends what you think of how to change things up and live your best financial life.

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