Data security is a big issue for small businesses and all over the world. Attacks on businesses result in the loss of millions of business’ and private individuals’ personal data, making them vulnerable to identity theft. However, this isn’t the only threat that small businesses are forced to deal with when their sensitive data is compromised. Some fraudsters won’t go to the trouble of using the data to hack into accounts and steal money, and instead will pressure businesses into simply paying them.
Maintaining steady cash flow is crucial for any business. Managing incoming and outgoing payments to do that, however, is nearly impossible. The average business owner spends nearly 8 hours per week just chasing down later payments. These tactics alone simply aren’t enough to keep a business solvent, particularly considering all the unexpected ways that a carefully managed budget can be derailed. Once normal cash flow is interrupted, it can be very difficult to get things running again. Business owners are often left in an unsustainable situation, deciding whether employees will be forced to deal with late payment, important shipments will be delayed, or the business’ power bill will be paid late.
The greatest risk of failure for new businesses has largely been found to be in their first year. Considering that many of these businesses are launched by first-time entrepreneurs without significant experience and limited funds, this isn’t necessarily surprising. What may come as a shock is that the next most dangerous time for a small business is several years later, after it has already established itself and proven its viability to potential investors.
Unlike many of the big name CEOs we’ve talked about, the average person is unlikely to have heard of Jay Flatley. He isn’t staggeringly wealthy like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, doesn’t give lengthy interviews about his ideas or business philosophy like many of the US’ great tech entrepreneurs, and doesn’t write books. Despite all this, it’s very likely that the work he and his business, Illumina, have done in the past 20 years will have a more significant and personal impact on our lives than any of the other business leaders we’ve covered.
Businesses rely on a variety of types of financing to launch, maintain, and grow their operations. Starting capital is often accessed through large bank loans or investors, while ongoing cash flow demands can be managed using a variety of shorter term financing solutions.
In the UK, 40 per cent of workers report feeling bored at work. In Australia, a study found that the average worker spends 6 hours per week bored and unproductive. At the same time similar proportions of workers report suffering from stress, anxiety, and overwork. All of these combine to reduce productivity and to create a high-strung and toxic work environment.
Great entrepreneurship isn’t always about driving humanity or an entire industry forward on a grand scale like Steve Jobs or Jack Ma, and innovation doesn’t always mean creating something entirely new. Howard Schultz, and other great entrepreneurs like him, are able to recognise the potential of great ideas that are already out there, adapt them, and take them to the next level. Armed with the right inspiration, and the skills to realise his vision, Schultz built a global business empire and a personal net worth of $3.1 billion on the back of the humble coffee bean.
The value of innovative thinking and embracing a diverse set of solutions when it comes to dealing with cash flow issues is fairly easy to understand, if not necessarily simple to implement, for most business owners. The benefits of embracing diversity in other ways, however, hasn’t been as universally accepted. Australian businesses still have an enormous wage gap, with women earning neary $27,000 less on average than their male counterparts. Beyond that, management positions across the entire economy, are dominated by white male industry insiders.
As important literary figures and military commanders alike have famously noted, plans usually don’t work out as they’re supposed to. This observation doesn’t just apply to regular life or war, but also to the business world. Being able to plan well, to execute those plans, and to budget predictably are all enormously beneficial to entrepreneurs in terms of managing growth and maximising the productive potential of their working capital. Unfortunately, the real world is messy, and plans can rarely be neatly executed on time, and on budget with all goals met as initially projected.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get mired in a sea of emails, phone calls, and operational and personnel problems, leaving almost no time for your regular responsibilities. This hectic day-to-day scramble won’t just run you ragged, it’ll ultimately also hold your business back, and keep you from developing and implementing your best ideas.