Monday, April 15, 2013


By:  Jim Verdonik

I'm an attorney with Ward and Smith PA.  I also write a column about business and law for American Business Journals, have authored multiple books and teach an eLearning course for entrepreneurs.  You can reach me at or  Or you can check out my eLearning course at
or or purchase my books at

[Note: This post is a longer version of an Article I wrote that was originally published in Triangle Business Journal in March 2013.  I expanded the article and added video clips.]
I'm a big Walking Dead fan.
Southern Zombies chase Rednecks across Georgia.
It doesn't get much better than that!

For connoisseurs of Zombie Apocalypse movies the big issue is:  Do you like fast Zombies or slow Zombies?  Walking Dead is about slow Zombies.  It usually takes a bunch of Zombies to catch you, unless you are wildly you of shape.  It's usually someone's fault when they get eaten by slow Zombies. 
So, what do Zombie movies have to do with you and your business?

It's usually your fault when your business becomes a Zombie.  It happened because you weren't paying attention or you weren't keeping your business in shape.
Most businesses go through cycles:  Struggle followed by growth followed by struggle, followed by growth, followed by struggle.. . . etc.

Both Struggle and Growth can wear down the business' Founders and management team.
At that point, the business may stabilize.  It's not struggling, but it's also not growing.

Short naps like that can sometimes be healthy.  But if it lasts too long, you may have a Walking Dead business.
Why do businesses become Walking Dead?
Can you cure the Walking Dead disease? 
Or does one Zombie Bite doom your business?

Let's look at several different types of Walking Dead businesses and talk about how you deal with each of them.

Zombie Problem:  Family members you brought into the business don't have what it takes to grow your business.
Remedy:  Fire your family, train your family, adopt a new family or sell your business.
Zombie Problem:  The business outgrew the Founders' skills. 
Remedy: Either get new skills or bring in a new management team to run your business for you.  Maybe you should sell the business in a management led leveraged buyout.  [Check out this short video from my eLearning course about Leveraged Buyouts]

Zombie Problem:  Your business has enough resources for its current market, but not enough resources to expand into new markets.
Remedy:  Raise capital to expand.  Most businesses can't raise venture capital, but there are lots of different capital sources.  Find the capital source that best suits your business.  [Check out this short video from my eLearning course about finding the right investors.]

Zombie Problem:  You raised money from investors, but now the investors are sucking the life out of your business.  Now you're considering selling the business and you won't get much after the investors get their cut.

Remedy:  Renegotiate with investors.  Remind them that if you don't have enough incentive the whole management team could walk away.  [Check out this short video from my eLearning course about renegotiating with investors who take too much.]

Zombie Problem:  Your customers' businesses are becoming Zombies.  They have no long-term future.  But you don't have the resources to hire a big sales team to replace your customers.
Remedy:  Develop channel partner relationships so you can leverage your channel partner's resources to find new customers.  [Check out this short video from my eLearning course about channel partners.]

Zombie Problem:  A competitor has cheaper products that are better than yours. 
Remedy:  Buy your competitor, sell your business or invest in developing new products

Zombie Problem:  You have high employee turnover in one department that is holding back your whole business.
Remedy:  Search for a toxic employee and fire them.  Don't just ask the department's manger.  The manager may be the toxic employee that is creating the Zombie department by driving away productive people.
Zombie Problem:  Healthcare and other employee related Government regulations are decreasing your margins.
Remedy:  Become a virtual company.  Fire most of your employees and hire independent contractors.  [Check out this short video from my eLearning course about independent contractors.]

Zombie Problem:  You wasted a lot of money drilling dry wells.  But now that you've found the path to success you lack resources.
Remedy:  Reorganize your business.  Ruthlessly cut all the Zombie parts and focus all your resources on your one last chance to succeed.

Zombie Problem:  Your business hasn't changed in ten years.  You deliver the same products to the same customers.
10% Remedy:  Hold a management retreat where the team can kick around new ideas.

90% remedy:  Assign specific people to implement the new ideas, hold them accountable, check progress and only compensate people who actually implement success.
As you can see, there are Zombies lurking everywhere and they are ready, willing and able to devour your business.

And we all know that one Zombie seems to attract other Zombies.  So, don't procrastinate.  Search out and destroy them before Zombies consume your business.
If you would like to learn more about how to prevent your business from becoming a Zombie business and other issues important to your success, you can reach me at or  Or you can check out my eLearning course at
or or purchase my books at

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