Potential failure is a threat that businesses face during any stage of their life cycle, while turnaround from decline is essential to protect them from failure. The scientific literature on turnaround focuses on both strategy and process. This study’s line of enquiry firstly reviews the documented research (both theoretical and empirical) encompassing the phenomenon on ‘turnaround’. The methodology applied is fundamentally based on an in-depth literature review and grounded theory, with a focus on classifying the relevant liabilities identified. Despite the uniqueness of each situation, the results suggest, firstly, that successful turnarounds are dependent on overcoming some universal liabilities. A conceptual framework is then proposed for liabilities associated with the turnaround situation. Secondly, the results suggest that the odds of a successful turnaround are stacked against the turnaround manager. Successful turnaround depends on an integrated approach to overcome these liabilities. Finally, the skills of the turnaround manager depend heavily on leadership and strategic management abilities, and less on accounting and legal skills. This suggests the need for future research to investigate a team approach to supporting the turnaround manager.