Archive for May, 2012

Starting a Business is Like Running a Marathon


I started running late in life when two of the guys at worked challenged me to run a mile with them. I worked at a large hospital at the time and worked and often socialized with two guys. One managed patient accounts and the other was a consultant from Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). At the time, I was overweight and wanted to lose some weight. The challenge we made with one another stipulated that whoever quits has to buy whoever keeps running dinner. Guess what? I am the guy who did not quit and I went on to become fanatical about my running. The other guys treated me to a free dinner.

Good entrepreneurs are like runners because they do not quit. I used to tell myself, “one foot in front of the other.” Entrepreneurs should tell themselves something similar like take it a step at a time, but whatever you do, do not quit. Similarly, an entrepreneur should take an active interest in the business he creates. The entrepreneur should also give himself small rewards along the way like the free dinner I received from my work associates.

Okay, so after this first episode I continued to run. I started running about three miles about three times a week through my neighborhood, but then the fall came. Another friend of mine wanted to join a new health club so we could play racquetball. I went to the club and signed up with him to play racquetball, but we started our routine doing a workout. I noticed the club had an indoor running track and next time I brought my running gear so I could run a little first before playing racquetball.

Next time we visited the club, I started running first before our game. I met some nice people on the track who encouraged me to run the Chicago Marathon with them. My racquetball friend did not like running and our racquetball games quickly stopped, but running with my new friends continued.

Starting a business is like running because you develop and nurture new relationships. After our runs we would go upstairs to the bar and have a few beers and have a good time. We forged a strong relationship with each other. We talked about our plans for the marathon. Starting a business is similar to planning to run a marathon because a business founder plans his business and develops strong relationships in forming those plans. A business founder does not exist on an island, but collaborates with those he trusts. A good business depends on good relationships.

As the date of the marathon approached, we trained together encouraging one another. We trained inside and out depending on the weather. We continued encouraging one another on our runs and discussed different strategies to take to complete the marathon and run a good time. A few of my friends fell to injuries, but most of us went on to the marathon.

A new business is similar because some relationships will stop and others will continue depending on who is the fittest. The camaraderie continues as the goal comes into sight. The new business founder has to keep his goals in front of him just like a person wanting to complete the marathon. The new business founder continues to forge relationships with the fittest of his relationships.

The day of the marathon finally arrived and the weather was perfect. I started out slow to pace myself. I learned from running with my friends I am an endurance runner, but not too fast. However, my friends pushed me to improve my time. Running a new business is similar to the marathon because business associates push you to do better and recognize your abilities.

During the marathon I built speed as the race progressed and I loved the cheering crowd’s encouragement. As the I approached the twenty mile mark, runners started to hit the wall and drop from the race, but I continued to press on. Running a new business is like running a marathon because some people hit the wall, while others press on to the finish. Customer encouragement helps the new business put the final goal in sight. A new business needs customer feedback to stay on course and complete the race.

As I approached the finish I saw many struggling to continue. Some stopped or walked as they headed to the finish. I felt good as my training paid off and I decided to pass as many people as I could. I surged to the finish picking off as many competitors as possible and I could finally see the time clock at the finish. I knew I had beat my goal and a good feeling it was.

Starting a new business is like running a marathon because training pays off and allows an entrepreneur to surpass the competition. The goal of the entrepreneur becomes clearer as the founder approaches the finish line and it feels good to beat the goal.

As I crossed the finish, a few of my faster friends greeted me and I waited with them to see the others of us who finished. One by one I greeted the rest of my friends as they completed their journey. Running a business is like running a marathon because the encouragement continues throughout the journey. The camaraderie continues as those who make it have cause to celebrate.

Are you ready to run the marathon and start your own business? Learn more.

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Reflections on the DNA of an Entrepreneur: Discovery vs. Routine


One of the characteristics I enjoy most about entrepreneurship is that an entrepreneur does have to keep doing the same tasks repeatedly. In fact, my experience is just the opposite. An entrepreneur is constantly trying to perfect new tasks. The entrepreneur is in constant contact with people and those who need a product or service. Because entrepreneurs want to perfect a product or service, they must continually take the pulse of the people they serve.

I have to confess my undergraduate and part of my graduate education trained me to perfect procedures in which the steps are repetitive. My background and experience as a certified public accountant highlights the repetitiveness of what a good accountant does. I found working as an accountant interesting at first, but quickly became boring because I wanted to move on to learn new things. I have heard people say that accountants and lawyers often make the worst entrepreneurs because of the repetitive nature of their work.

In retrospect, I can see how professionals like lawyers and accountants make terrible entrepreneurs because most of the time they involve themselves in fixed routines in which they have extensive training. Corporate planners in specific vocations are much the same way, but entrepreneurs enjoy constant relations and communication with the people and the consumers he they aim to serve. Few engagements involve using the identical procedures and the entrepreneur is more like a detective always trying to seek the truth to perfect a product or service. Steve Jobs highlighted this role as an entrepreneur in developing his products.

I believe I have always had the curiosity to enjoy learning new tasks because I learned from my father who worked as a private investigator. I believe, because I helped him on many occasions, it put the thirst for entrepreneurship in my blood. I enjoyed discovering new things about people and this role stayed with me to this day.

A good entrepreneur in my experience likes to work with people from diverse backgrounds. The corporate planner, the accountant, and lawyer attune themselves to a more convergent group of people with similar skills. Entrepreneurs like to learn from others about talents and skills they may not already have. Entrepreneurs like to stay in touch with people with diverse talents because it allows them to improve products and services to satisfy an emerging need.

Corporate planners immerse themselves in routine and become detached from people. These people become more bureaucratic and enjoy placing layers between themselves and the people they ultimately serve. Bureaucracy in my view is a dirty word because it adds costs and, although in the beginning is more efficient, it eventually reduces efficiency in the long haul. Corporate planners already have a model producing enough cash flows, but entrepreneurs have to craft a model to make it efficient enough to produce enough cash flows. Corporate planners manage existing models and repetition makes their models tired, but entrepreneurs create new efficient models through their communications with people and consumers to discover what they want now.

I believe an entrepreneur is more an adventurer and enjoys dealing with the unknown. Professional planners concern themselves more with avoiding the unknown and dealing with issues with which they already have skills. Both professional planners and entrepreneurs work to minimize risk, but risk is routine and a person can avoid risk through insurance or risk transfer. The unknown is much more adventurous because no one knows what it may bring.

What do you enjoy? Do you enjoy learning and discovering new tasks or do you enjoy the routine of a professional planner? What is in your DNA? I would love to hear your answer.

If you have the DNA of an entrepreneur and want help to use your talent as an entrepreneur please visit us to learn more about how we can help.

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How a Turnaround is Like Founding a New Company


Once I took a position as the chief financial officer of an organization with a history of over 100 years. The institution in its early years thrived because of its location bordering a city nearly the size of Chicago with a booming coal mining industry. The location bordered on the one of the Great Lakes cutting off half the circumference of the target market.

Eventually, the coal mining industry declined and the city bordering the organization dwindled in population because of lack of other industry in the area. Recreation supplied the next biggest industry in the area because of ideal conditions for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and other winter sports. In the summer, the area provided ideal conditions for hunting and fishing. These industries failed to provide enough jobs and opportunities to keep the city alive.

The organization I worked for had its numbers drop by nearly 70% because the organization depended on people within a hundred mile radius of it. When I arrived I found the finances in a shambles and an accumulated deficit resulting in a negative net worth. At first, this condition alarmed me, but I knew I had a calling to turn this ship around.

A turnaround of this magnitude is like starting a new business because it needs a radical transformation. Fortunately, the executive team committed to a radical transformation of finding a new model for the organization that would turn around the organization and create positive cash flows. Weekly we explored new ideas and acted on cutting drains on the organization’s cash flows. In this way, the turnaround is more difficult than starting a new business because a new business does not have to deal with getting rid of existing programs causing a drain on cash flows.

The result of these efforts balanced the organization’s budget and identified new programs capable of producing positive cash flows. When I did my doctoral research I discovered that many companies that go public have accumulated deficits of the same magnitude and about 70% of them eventually fail. This revelation surprised me and I thought about how many companies can use the same help a turnaround expert provides. Big and small companies have similar failure rates. ‘

Although the cause is different, the need to identify a working model is the same. Without transforming an organization by finding a working model that produces positive results any organization will subject itself to failure. This revelation also caused me to think about the benefits of going public versus remaining private. Often, companies go public far before they rightfully should and prematurely remove the founder whose role it is to find a working model.

Public companies start to create more bureaucratic settings, while the organization needs to stay nimble enough to allow the working model to develop and meet consumer needs. Bureaucratization adds costs and reduces flexibility to adapt to make the model work. I believe many companies act too fast to go public because they believe it provides a safety net for raising capital. I believe a slower more deliberate growth may benefit many companies and allow the founders to keep their company and learn how to manage it instead of getting shown the door.  Founders work hard and if they are serious should hold on to their creation and learn how to improve it.

I believe other consultants place too much emphasis on getting big too fast. Companies might do well to slow down and grow organically than fall prey to seeking the safety net of a public company. Slowing down allows the founder to start to see the forest from the trees and build a sustainable model without risking the founder’s position.  

My company works to build organic growth by building on gaining the experience and education needed to grow organically. I believe a serious entrepreneur has an attachment to his or her creation and needs a different focus to preserve an identity with the company the founder creates.

What is your goal in founding a company? Would you prefer to stay involved in the company you create or do you want to exit and put the company in someone else’s hands? Please leave a comment to let me know your view.

If you are serious about preserving your identity with the company you want to create I urge you to try the services of my company by signing on now.

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Dr. Phil’s Fables of Entrepreneurship: Part I


The Falcon and the Pitcher

A falcon exhausted with thirst flew with glee to an abandoned pitcher hoping to find water. When the falcon reached the pitcher, it found so little water that it’s beak could not reach it. The falcon frantically tried everything to reach the water, but its efforts were in vain. Finally, the falcon took a collection of stones and dropped them into the pitcher one at a time bringing the water into its reach.

Moral of the story: Persistence is the mother of invention. Never give up.

The Owl and the Rodent

An owl in great need of food saw a rodent asleep in the grass and flew down and grasped him. Bewildered, the rodent turned and bit the owl a mortal wound. In agony, the owl exclaimed, “Oh unhappy me! I found what I thought a happy windfall only to find the source of my own destruction. “

Moral of the story: Do not underestimate competition from the entrepreneur as it may prove the source of your “creative destruction.”

The Boasting Traveler

A man traveling in foreign lands liked to boast upon return to his native country about historic feats he had performed in the places he visited. The man exclaimed, while traveling at Rhodes, he had leaped a distance no other man could leap and had witnesses who could attest to his achievement. A bystander interrupted and said, “Good man no need for witnesses. Suppose this is Rhodes. Aust leap for us.”

Moral of the story: If you can’t see it, you can’t believe it! Success starts with vision.

The Ass and the Purchaser

A man wanting to purchase an ass agreed with its owner to try the animal before buying it. The man took the ass home and left it in the straw yard with his other asses. The ass joined another that was most idle and the biggest eater. When the man observed this behavior he took the ass back to its owner. The owner asked the man how in such a short time he could make such a decision to return the ass. The man answered,” I do not need a trial. I know the ass will be the same as the companion it selected.”

Moral of the story: Take care in selecting who you associate with.

The Boy and the Nettles

The boy was stung by a Nettle. The boy ran home and told his mother, saying,” Although it hurts me very much, I touched it gently.” The boy’s mother responded,” that is why it stung you. The next time you touch a Nettle, grasp it boldly, and it will be soft as silk in your hand and not in the least hurt you.”

Moral of the story: Use a full effort in everything you do.

The Ants and the Grasshopper

The ants spent a fine winter day drying grain from the summertime. A grasshopper, succumbing to famine, passed by and begged for some food. The ants asked,” why did you not gather up food in the summer?” The grasshopper responded,” I had not enough leisure. I spent the day singing.” The ants responded in derision, “If you’re foolish enough to sing all summer, you must dance supperless in winter.”

Moral of the story: You must plan today what you will need tomorrow. Never run out of cash, which is the lifeblood of the firm!

The Eagle and the Fox

An Eagle and a Fox formed an intimate friendship and decided to leave live near each other. The Eagle built her nest in the branches of a tall tree, while the Fox crept into the underwood and there produced her young. Not long after they had agreed upon this plan, the Eagle, being in want of provision for her young ones, swooped down while the Fox was out, seized upon one of the little cubs, and feast herself and her brood. The Fox on her return, discovered what had happened, but was less grieved for the death of her young than for her inability to avenge them. A just retribution, however, quickly fell upon the Eagle. While hovering near the altar, on which some villagers were sacrificing a goat, she suddenly seized a piece of flesh, and carried it, along with a burning cinder, to her nest. A strong breeze soon fanned the spark into a flame, and the eaglets, as yet unfledged and helpless, were roasted in their nest and drop down dead at the bottom of the tree. There, in sight of the Eagle, the Fox gobbled them up.

Moral of the story: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others how you want to be treated.

Please leave a comment about the lessons learned from the fables.  Want to learn more?

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Entrepreneurial motivation: Do you like to think?


One reason I enjoy entrepreneurship is because I like to think for myself. I found early in my career that working for someone else limits the opportunity to think for yourself. Often people go to work for a company and the company controls their thinking to align with key executives.

I come from a family in which a good argument is a part of home life. Whenever my family would get together, a heated debate always happened. Family members and friends constantly challenged one another. Nothing bothers me more than when others believe they have to impose their will and think for someone else.

For example, recently I came across an article about how a Texas school board wanted to change text books to erase certain parts of history to support its conservative views. I find this appalling because I believe people are smart enough to make their own interpretations about history. What gives any group the right to stack the deck against any other group? Is this what a free society is all about?

Entrepreneurship is an outlet that allows me to express my views from my interpretation about conditions in the world. Entrepreneurship allows me to interpret people’s needs and gaps in the market otherwise not exposed by conventional wisdom. Entrepreneurship allows me to follow my own direction and follow opportunities I see. My success or failure depends on the direction I take not on what someone else tells me I should take. Following my own path, allows me to express my creativity and “think outside the box.” Entrepreneurship demands I hold myself accountable because no one else is to blame.

Imagine a world without entrepreneurship where everyone thinks the same. In my view, without entrepreneurship, the world is a boring place lacking innovation and exciting new pathways. Such an environment destroys small business, displaces workers, and eventually results in no new growth. No one exists to represent social interests of consumers and society at large. Society distributes the wealth only to the elite and everyone else becomes their servant. Freedom of speech disappears and only the wealthy have a voice.

Does this environment sound like a society you would want to live in? I am interested in hearing what you think. How do you view the ability to think for yourself?

I don’t know about you, but I value the ability to think more than almost anything. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose this freedom. Do you want to learn more?

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A Treatise on The Need for Social Entrepreneurship


Today I watched a video presentation by Steve Blank and the UCLA Anderson School of Management on different entrepreneurship types. Blank had many good ideas I agreed with about entrepreneurship. For example, Blank said when a founder finds a model that works, investors act quickly to take over and replace the founders because founding entrepreneurs’ role is to create value by finding new models. Investors look to manage successful models by recruiting corporate planners to maximize profits for owners and managers in these newfound wealth creating enterprises. Blank also claimed social entrepreneurship has no value because it creates no new wealth (LeanStartupCircleLA, 2011, October 16).

I take exception to this shortsighted view because I believe all enterprises should take some social responsibility. Further, sometimes, I believe social issues belong in social enterprises rather in commercial ones because social enterprises better serve consumers’ social needs and commercial businesses place more value on serving themselves. What is wrong with just earning a decent living instead of channeling all wealth to the elite? Can social entrepreneurs gain more value from satisfying more than their personal wealth and by serving society’s needs? If government fails to address social issues who should?

Different worldviews on social entrepreneurship.

Various worldviews exist about social entrepreneurship. One view comes from the protectors of social entrepreneurship, who believe in the effectiveness of social organizations. Another view comes from the doubters, who demand empirical proof of social entrepreneurs effectiveness  (Pärenson, 2011).

Trexler (2008) reasoned both people and business enterprises have hybrid needs consisting of both social and commercial parts. Trexler rationalized business managers encode the thinking burdensome laws in, “the DNA of our for-profit corporate entities, yet business leaders persist in reducing corporate identity to the material enrichment of its executives and shareholders” (p. 80).

Bull, Ridley-Duff, Foster, and Seanor (2010) argued the current social setting directs itself toward self-interest and eroding moral values. Bull et al. claimed social entrepreneurship has great value to look beyond existing missions and values and maximize ethical virtues.

Defining social entrepreneurship.

Pärenson (2011) found some scholars define social entrepreneurship as any action helping solve social issues, while others see social entrepreneurship only when it serves both a social cause and fulfills a commercial need. Pärenson found other definitions about social entrepreneurship strictly about nonprofit corporations, but most definitions view social entrepreneurship mainly focusing on social needs and less on commercial concerns.

Alvord, Brown, and Letts (2004) defined social entrepreneurship as providing sustainable solutions to great social problems using economic, political, and social means by applying market-based skills to the nonprofit area. Noruzi, Westover, and Rahimi (2010) defined the social entrepreneur as a person, group, or alliance seeking sustainable solutions through break-through changes and ideas in how business, governments, and nonprofit organizations should do business.

Who decides where an enterprise fits?

Should government, commercial enterprise, or society decide the best place to deal with social issues? Should corporate profit making behaviors eclipse social values? Traditionally, governments decided because people of the world organized governments to represent their interests, but with global markets companies aim to tear down the walls of governments. Who then deals with social issues?

Soros (1998) argued autocratic governments find it easier to amass capital, but their power causes corruption and ignores the glue holding the shared values of society together. Soros explained the weaknesses of global capitalism emanating from uneven benefit distribution, unstable financial systems, threats to competition by monopolies and oligopolies, the unclear and confusing role of governments, and the lack of social unity. Without government is the social landscape falling to autocratic interests of big companies? What say should people have about their values?

When does “creative destruction” begin and creativity die?

Without the voice of consumers represented by government the place to deal with social issues best comes from entrepreneurs close to the customer. If monopolies and oligopolies make it difficult for entrepreneurs so they cannot compete who is responsible for creating new and improved products and services to fill the gaps needed by consumers?

Pichler (2010) explained entrepreneurs act as the villain to market economies by averting market tendencies in accord with what Elliot (1983) viewed as Schumpeter’s theory of creating new combinations. Without such new combinations economic conditions become static and fail to foster conditions ripe for creativity. Entrepreneurship drives creativity and when crowded out by monopolies and oligopolies exposes the economic conditions leading to “creative destruction.”

Society needs entrepreneurs to drive creativity and fill gaps exposed by monopolies and oligopolies that fail to consider social needs. Monopolies and oligopolies foster preserving the wealth of the elite with little consideration for social needs. Without entrepreneurship creativity dies and leaves a hole in market for needs direly needed by consumers.

Global markets and unfilled social gaps in the market.

Where do issues like education, healthcare, housing, and alternative energy fall in global markets? Are these not social issues? Should the private companies strictly deal with such issues or should society deal with these issues as social issues. Are such issues best dealt with by government or nonprofit organizations? Does one size fit all?

I do not believe all these issues rightfully belong with private companies because they are beyond the control of the consumer who needs some help. For example, should everyone who wants an education have the opportunity to get one or should education depend solely on those who can afford to pay for a good education?

I would also argue putting such issues in the private companies makes the cost rise and reduces the efficiency of the market in delivering such services to members of the public. Although private enterprises like to espouse their efficiency, sometimes markets become less efficient with the profit incentive. Costs rise because merchants involved add their markups on top of all the ingredients in the product or service causing costs to spiral. In government and nonprofit enterprises companies put less focus raising prices and more focus on buying efficiently. Molina-Martinez and Martinez-Fernandex (2010) and Zhang and Fung (2006) argued social entrepreneurs contribute to improved economic performance, and Granovetter (1992) made the case that social entrepreneurs outperform nonsocial entrepreneurs.

Should society distribute social services to the highest bidder or do all people have a right to certain basic services? Who decides where best to deal with basic social needs? Do the people have a say in a global market that has torn down the walls of government or have we digressed to “the survival of the fittest?”

Deregulation and its effect on social needs.

Loss of government funding from deregulation places more demands for meeting social needs on entrepreneurs (Gliedt & Parker, 2007). Entrepreneurs need better conditions to deal with emerging social needs, but monopolies and oligopolies with notable political influence detract from making conditions more favorable for social entrepreneurs. Social enterprises now face dwindling support from donations and public funds (Craig, Taylor, & Parkes, 2004).

Without government playing a role, social entrepreneurs have a responsibility to deal with social needs, but need improved conditions to do so. Foster (2010) argued for a mixed economy because markets are not perfect and the inability of big companies to deal with certain issues. Foster called for needed government policies to deal with promoting entrepreneurship. These policies include a commitment to education and training, public guarantees of financing for entrepreneurs, public support for research and development in emerging industries, and regulatory changes promoting entrepreneurship through networking. How can conditions improve to provide better conditions for social entrepreneurs without government intervention?

Examples of some of the unmet needs.

Alternative energy, housing, healthcare, and education offer examples of issues social entrepreneurs can play a part in. Green energy focuses on environment problems besides solely profit-making ambitions, but threaten conventional energy source providers with competition (Gliedt & Parker, 2007). Does threatening conventional energy source providers offer enough reason not to develop energy alternatives? What happens when shortages exist in conventional sources? Should society just accept paying more? How does society deal with environmental issues like global warming?

Society can apply the same thinking to housing, healthcare, and education. Are these not at least in some part social issues needing solutions encompassing more than profit-making? Do social entrepreneurs have value in solving these problems?

We would like to hear more from you about what you think? Please leave a comment or let us know if you would like to learn more.

References

Alvord, S. H., Brown, L. D., & Letts, C. W. (2004). Social entrepreneurship and societal transformation: An exploratory study. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 40(3), 260-282. doi: 10.1177/0021886304266847

Bull, M., Ridley-Duff, R., Foster, D., & Seanor, P. (2010). Conceptualising ethical capital in social enterprise. Social Enterprise Journal, 6(3), 250-264. doi: 10.1108/17508611011088832

Craig, G., Taylor, M., & Parkes, T. (2004). Protest or partnership? The voluntary and community sectors in the policy process. Social Policy & Administration, 38(3), 221-239. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9515.2004.00387.x

Elliott, J. E. (1983). Schumpeter and the theory of capitalist economic development. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 4(4), 277-308. doi: 10.1016/0167-2681(83)90012-4

Foster, J. (2010). Productivity, creative destruction and innovation policy: Some implications from the Australian experience. [Article]. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 12(3), 355-368. doi: 10.5172/impp.12.3.355

Gliedt, T., & Parker, P. (2007). Green community entrepreneurship: creative destruction in the social economy. International Journal of Social Economics, 34(8), 538-553. doi: 10.1108/03068290710763053

Granovetter, M. S. (1992). Problems of explanation in economic sociology. In N. Nohria & R. G. Eccles (Eds.), Networks and organizations: Structure, form, and action (pp. 29-56). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

LeanStartupCircleLA (Producer). (2011, October 16). Steve Blank on customer development: The second decade. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t0t-CXPpyM

Molina-Morales, F. X., & Martínez-Fernández, M. T. (2010). Social networks: Effects of social capital on firm innovation. Journal of Small Business Management, 48(2), 258-279. doi: 10.2307/2393553

Noruzi, M. R., Westover, J. H., & Rahimi, G. R. (2010). An Exploration of Social Entrepreneurship in the Entrepreneurship Era. Asian Social Science, 6(6), 3-10.

Pärenson, T. (2011). The criteria for a solid impact evaluation in social entrepreneurship. Society and Business Review, 6(1), 39-48. doi: 10.1108/17465681111105823

Pichler, J. H. (2010). Innovation and creative destruction: At the centennial of Schumpeter’s theory and Its dialectics. Nase Gospodarstvo/Our Economy, 56(5-6), 52-58. doi: http://www.ng-epf.si

Soros, G. (1998). Toward a global open society. The Atlantic Online, 281(1), 20-32. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/98jan/opensoc.htm

Trexler, J. (2008). Social Entrepreneurship as an Algorithm: Is Social Enterprise Sustainable? Emergence : Complexity and Organization, 10(3), 65-85. doi: 10.1207/s15327000em0101_2

Zhang, Q., & Hung-Gay, F. (2006). China’s social capital and financial performance of private enterprises. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 13(2), 198-207. doi: 10.1108/14626000610665908

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Using Your Banker to Manage Cash Flows


I often see bankers trying to lure small business owners into letting them help manage their cash flows. Although managing cash flows is critical for the small business owner, I question the value of going to a banker for help. In my experience, many bankers only have banking experience and little other tangible business experience. Banks concern themselves with cash flows mainly to ensure customers produce enough funds to pay the bank back. Is this approach enough to create enough cash to run your business?

Banks do not provide services without some form of compensation and may charge fees for managing cash flows. Banks often have no understanding of your business and what it takes to increase cash because all they understand is that you must sell more without understanding the tactics it takes to make more sales. Many times banks simply focus on cutting costs without considering new ways to raise revenues. Is this the approach you need?

My advice to the small business owner is to look at your own cash flows daily. Looking at your own cash flows will help understand where to increase revenues and where to cut costs. The business owner is the person who needs to decide how to increase cash and how to cut it not some outside party with little experience in your business. A business owner can look at the environment in which the company works and do some scanning to see what best fits the company’s model.

A company that does need help should employ a coach or an analyst to help design a procedure for the owner to make his own daily evaluation of cash flows. A coach or an analyst can also help the small business owner asked the right questions about what to add to improve revenues and what to cut to decrease costs. Experience and education are key ingredients in deciding what revenues to improve and what costs to cut. A good consultant is worth his or her weight in gold in helping the small business understand how to produce enough cash flows to keep a profitable business.

In my view, a good coach or consultant is there to guide you and help you develop the experience you need to make intelligent cash flow decisions. Yes a good coach or consultant comes with a cost, but the cost pays for itself because the small business owner benefits from learning how to manage his or her own cash flow. Do you want to learn more? Do you think you can get the same service from your banker?

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