In the first part of this series, we introduced the five stages of entrepreneurship we work with on a daily basis.
The next kind of entrepreneur we see is simply known as The Stuck, although this person might also be dubbed the Wanna-Be Expander.
An entrepreneur who is stuck isn't doing badly by any means; in fact, their business might even be thriving.
The problem is that a stuck entrepreneur may be interested in preparing for future storm clouds or simply isn't sure how to keep the business moving upward--or at least on an even keel.
The reasons for this condition can run a wide gamut. Perhaps the management team is weak and/or timid. Maybe new competitors, who aren't necessarily better but provide customers another option, have encroached on your space. Sometimes, new government regulations and requirements are making your job difficult. And often a lack of growth is tied to unfavorable market conditions or simply a suspect sales team.
While our main job is to provide our clients with financial options, a secondary (but still key) role is to provide general business advice.
We do that by asking questions, including the elementary "Why are you stuck?" Another question we frequently ask is, "If you received $500,000 today, what could you do with it?" These give us much insight into what direction to explore.
One way to produce growth is by securing a loan that will allow for expanded facilities, product development, merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and other things that spur growth.
Because The Stuck entrepreneur isn't struggling, it's quite likely we'll suggest they work with a Small Business Administration-backed (SBA) lender.
Regular readers of our commentaries may tire of us extolling the SBA--and be wary of anything related to government--but the agency is an example of a government program that works.
Let us explain why.
For one thing, SBA loan programs generally are reasonable and well designed. Given how a bad loan can literally kill a business, it's imperative to secure affordable debt.
Meantime, SBA-approved lenders (remember, the SBA doesn't make the loans itself) are used to working with small businesses. That experience is important; many banks only want to work with large businesses--which tend to have a whole different set of needs and expectations. A large bank may not "get" what you want to do.
You definitely want to work with specialists.
Given how this entrepreneur is considered stuck, now's also the perfect time to think about debt both offensively and defensively. We often find The Stuck entrepreneur is a bit gun-shy about adding debt, but given their relatively favorable business condition, now might also be the time to secure a credit line.
When you don't need money is the best time to get it. By securing a credit line when there's no immediate need, not only will the client obtain a good rate, but it will help deal with the unexpected and allow the business to take advantage of opportunities that materialize suddenly.
And remember, no interest is charged on the unused portion of a line of credit.
Taking these steps, among others, are relatively painless ways to boost a business to the next level. Sure, they may seem pretty basic, but many entrepreneurs lose sight of the overall picture.