For small and medium sized businesses, cash flow issues are the most-cited barrier to growth. This is because all aspects of growth require investment, from research and the development of a growth plan, to the execution of that plan, to the ongoing management of existing operations. Apart from those comparatively few who benefit from significant outside investment, businesses are forced to stretch their existing budgets, along with any financing they can secure, in order to finance their growth.
In a perfect world, growth opportunities would come along at the perfect time, when your business has surplus capital to spend, and operations are running smoothly. This, however, is rarely the case. In the real world, growth tends to be messy. Opportunities often arise even as creditors come knocking, equipment breaks down, and for suppliers unexpectedly go into administration.
Growing up at the turn of the millennium, Daniel Ek benefitted from the breakdown of the traditional music industry. Napster, and the many file-sharing platforms that followed it, effectively ended the era where the music industry giants could control their product. Where making tapes or burning cds produced inferior copies, digital sharing effectively allowed anyone to access music for free at commercial quality.
The holidays are a stressful time for businesses. While some are fighting their way through a holiday rush, others try to keep revenues flowing and costs covered through a slowdown as clients and employees go on holiday. For business owners, though, that isn’t everything. Employees face serious stress of their own, as they attempt to manage their finances, holiday plans, and work and family obligations.
Maintaining steady cash flow is a difficult job, especially for businesses who are still relatively small. Sooner or later, businesses inevitably find themselves short on funds. To deal with this, business owners often turn to loans. Choosing the right kind of loan, however, is a crucial issue that might get less experienced business owners into trouble. Not all loans are created equal, because they’re not all meant for the same kind of cash flow problem. Moreover, businesses can’t always qualify for a loan, which can make things difficult right when the stakes are highest.
Businesses all over the world steadily grow and try to compete against each other every day. While taking the slow and steady approach is certainly viable, it’s not what most entrepreneurs set out to do when they first launch their operations. Entrepreneurs typically understand the value of taking calculated risks, and of making an impact. Rather than simply surviving, they dream of disruption; of building a business that seemingly comes out of nowhere to permanently change an entire industry, and to leave its mark on society.
The holidays are a critical time for businesses of all kinds. Retail businesses in particular often rely on the holidays for a considerable portion of their annual revenue. Businesses in industries that aren’t associated with the holidays, on the other hand, might experience a sharp drop in revenue as employees and clients go on holiday, and just as holiday bonuses need to be paid out.
In order to grow, new businesses need more than just an innovative idea and sufficient funds to get it off the ground. Growth and success are built on trust relationships, and the most successful entrepreneurs are ultimately those who build and maintain those relationships best. This is true in every relationship a business has, including those with employees, suppliers, customers, and ultimately investors.
At the age of 33, and with an estimated net worth of $2.3 million USD, Kathryn Minshew, the founder and CEO of career portal The Muse, doesn’t fit the profile of big Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Rather, her career resonates with the experience of many young entrepreneurs today, and offers us unique insights that we can apply in our own businesses.
Entrepreneurs are inherently risk takers. They know that successfully creating a new business, standing out in a competitive industry, and eventually growing to prominence all depend on finding ways to stand out, and to provide new and innovative solutions to customers. It’s not a simple endeavour, of course, to leverage this knowledge to reach entrepreneurial success. Developing those solutions requires research, experimentation, and time. Innovative businesses need innovative employees, expertise, and the resources to test and implement new ideas. All of these things cost money that many businesses don’t have to spare unless that investment produces returns within a reasonable timeframe.