For nearly 20 years, Chris Zane's bike shop -- Zane's Cycles in Branford, Conn. -- has been healthy and profitable. To grow it, though, he's had to act more like a CEO, which means letting his staff run the store.

The changes have made Zane more focused on cash flow. Although he's paying his supplier (Trek Bicycles) more than he ever has -- for an increasing number of bicycles -- he's also found a way to make that work to his advantage. He always pays his bills early and consistently captures discounts for doing so. "I make my salary on the discounts we get from paying our vendors early," he says. Even if he needs to draw on his line of credit, he typically makes more from paying early than he pays out in interest. "I've always tried to pay cost-effectively," he says. "But now it's an important part of our business."

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