Securing funds is crucial for a small business, so we asked a handful of experts about what you need to know when it comes to getting money.
We’ll be discussing this topic and others on how to grow a business in our fireside chat via Google Hangout on March 24.
Here’s what our experts had to say:
Start small. Have a plan for how you want to expand in the future, ask your customers what they want before you pump money into development... and then make plans to get there.
Amy Wright, amywright.biz
Keep your overhead low
Keep your overhead low. Start with a small team that has diverse capabilities and instill confidence and a sense of pride and loyalty by not micromanaging. Think about starting people part-time with the stated intention of going full-time as you grow. Don’t over-order or take on too many projects that you can’t do an excellent job. Think about working virtually. Only take a loan or line of credit if you absolutely need to.
Alison Williams, Raconteur
Stay out of debt
Some companies we've worked with get VC capital so that's one route to go. My wife and I decided we wanted 100% ownership and to never owe anything to the banks aside from a small overdraft for emergencies (you know, like rent).
Dave Davies, beanstalkim.com
Good financial planning
Financial planning, looking at yearly cycles critically, making sure customers pay on time. We’re a mix of B2C and B2B so that gives us a little bit more resilience. We’ve also been funded by a small business loan and investment from ‘friends and family’.
Kristian Tapaninaho, unni.net
Plan your advertising
Plan to be able to advertise using your entire profit margin for six month, plus pay someone to do your ads, unless you are a quick learner with data skills, creative skills, psychological insight and a good head for numbers. One of the biggest mistakes new businesses make is not advertising, and the second biggest mistake is trying to do the advertising themselves.
Brian Carter, briancartergroup.com
Crowdfunding - I used indiegogo for example to generate enough capital to purchase a first portion of my stock. Other platforms to help you purchase inventory are invoice discounting which allows you to draw money against your sales invoices. Very effective and great rates are available these days.
Hamish Khayat, standupandsmile.com
Plan until you drop
Plan, plan, plan. When preparing to make more major investments in growth, like hiring or expanding your office space, create your worst case scenario plan. Look at your numbers to understand how long your company could stay afloat with the new expense and no added revenue. Depending on if the new investment is expected to generate additional revenue (for example, if it's a new hire, will they be focused on new business efforts?), you'll likely want a 3-6 month cushion.
Molly Wilson, meetkickstand.com
Check your cash reserve
It is best to not start your own business until you have a cash reserve of at least six to twelve months of total expenses.
It is also important to have a personal working business plan that includes a budget for the business. The plan and budget must be realistic and you must follow them on a day to day basis. Monthly or quarterly review your plan and make any adjustments needed. Rather than trying to develop the plan entirely on your own, you can search for a business plan outline on-line that you can use to get started. Your plan will also include an outline for how you will have the funds necessary for growth and sustainability.
With a good business plan and budget in place that you follow, it can guide you to a very successful business.
Nancy Butler, aboveallelse.org
Think about revenue
As an entrepreneur (or small business owner) your singular focus is always ...how does this decision effect revenue.
Set up a cash flow statement
What you need is to set up your own Cash Flow Statement, this is arguably the most important tool a small business needs to use to safely grow without running out of money.
The reason for this is that businesses often need to offer credit to their customers, especially if their clients are other companies, while their own suppliers/tenants/employees require them to pay them upfront for their services.
This situation means that you need to have a cash 'buffer' that will allow you to go on paying your bills while you wait for your clients to pay you. This means growing too fast could eat up all of your saved 'buffer cash', it will be hard for you to keep workers on the job when you can't afford payroll.
The basics seem fairly simple, but I would encourage first to figure out what all the factors on the cash you handle are, set up a simple spreadsheet, and play around with the numbers, you may see that the cash you need to support a strong growth pattern is bigger by far than your profits and that you require support from investors or banks to achieve your yearly growth goal.