How to Go Down Swinging: 5 Tips for Making a Last Stand

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The moment you have feared has arrived. There is no more money left to pay the bills and customer counts are dwindling. Depressing thoughts grip the mind.

But I’m here to tell you that if this is you, you owe it to everyone who has believed in you to make a last stand, to give everything you have into making it work one last time. Even if it is just one seemingly measly event, one party that brings in a substantial bump just to get you through the week, you need to put all your energy into it. Do the absolute best job you can with every remaining resource.

Surrendering is not an option; that’s is how people of honor view their last stand. They go down swinging. If you’re on your last legs and you have one last shot to keep your hopes alive, I’m here to share five suggestions to make a strong last stand. You owe it to yourself, your staff, your family and your supportive, loyal guests. Go down swinging and you just may land the haymaker that turns things around.

Talk to Someone Who Has Been There

The great thing about the hospitality industry is the brotherhood that exists among everyone that works in the industry. All bar and restaurant owners undoubtedly have friends that have faced the same problems that they have. The mistake that most people make when they are in trouble is to shrink away, hide and keep their problems to themselves. Winners take massive action and talk to those who are qualified to counsel them. When facing a problem that produces a lot of fear, that fear is reduced dramatically by talking with someone who has been there, done that. But the key is to make the first move, call that friend who has already walked in your shoes, and get your problems off your chest.

 Take Inventory of all Available Resources

In the WWII film Fury, before Brad Pitt’s character and his crewmen choose to confront an enemy brigade of over 200 men with a broken tank, they rigorously take count of all their machine gun and cannon ammunition, grenades, rifles, magazines, handguns and knives. They get ready to throw everything they have left at their enemy. When you are staring death in the face, you cannot be searching around for your weapons. Take a count of everything you have left, come up with a solid plan to utilize every asset efficiently, and make sure it’s within reach when the battle starts.

Call Everyone You owe Money to and Explain Your Situation

Most vendors are professionals. They’ll be cool to those who show them respect and handle difficult situations professionally. What they don’t respect is people who disappear on them when they’re owed money. The right thing to do is to call people—not text them, not email them but call them—and explain you’re a bit behind and need some time to get caught up. Discuss a plan to pay them in full and honor your commitments. Unless it’s their first day on the job you aren’t the first and only person with whom they’ve had such a conversation.

Doing this one person after another will relieve some of the heavy burden on your shoulders and buy you some precious time. It also gives your vendors, who are people with the ability to plan, the chance to help you and your business if they’re available. Remember, they have resources and an interest in your bar, nightclub or restaurant remaining open. In turn, that makes them a resource for you (see above).

Protect Your Spiritual and Mental Health

Perhaps you’re a religious or spiritual person. Maybe you’re agnostic. It could be that you’re an atheist. Could be that you separate this part of your personal life from your business. Whatever the case, you need to do what it takes to center yourself. Find strength wherever you can to keep from spiraling. This is obviously easier said than done.

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I’ve made no secret of my faith. When I’m struggling, I find strength in prayer. For me, prayer pumps me up before I charge into battle. I find that it encourages me to take bold and decisive action. Prayer may not be your thing, but if it is, this is the time to pray in earnest.

If meditation or finding solace in talking to a trusted colleague or mentor is more your speed, great. Find an effective method for calming yourself, clearing your mind of worry and doubt, and moving forward. The strength of your business is important, but your mental and spiritual health is just as significant.

Put Everything You Have into Planning, Promoting and Executing a Big Event

Big is the key word here. When facing a jam, nothing, and I mean nothing, will turn a frown upside down faster than a successful event that brings in much needed cash to pay your bills. You need to host an event that attracts a crowd that will spend money. In turn, this will give your business the boost it needs.

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Once you have your theme and date set, it’s time to promote the hell out of it. Talk to everyone. Every guest, all your friends, and people you run into should be invited. Put what money you can into advertising and marketing efforts. Give it everything you have left in the tank. After the event, if your coffers have been filled enough for you to fight another day, repeat these steps but add a few: talk to a consultant, an accountant and trusted peers and make the changes necessary to streamline your operation.

Don’t give up—you can do this.

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