Niraj owned an assistive technology company that connected people with disabilities to helpful equipment and technology to improve their daily lives. It was a growing business, but his growth was hampered by poor cash flow.
When Niraj attended a business conference I was speaking at he came up to ask me for help during the break after my keynote. After talking with him it became clear that the real area of need for him to free up more cash was to refine his collections systems.
About a month after the conference he was kind enough to send me a follow up email that said, "I took many of the strategies you taught and applied it and things changed... The first thing I looked at was my A/R and found $20,170 that I did not bill for. I want to thank you for opening my eyes on these subjects."
Niraj was no different that many of the business owners I meet. He was passionate, determined, and intelligent. But he felt stuck not knowing how to fund his growth.
In fact, most business owners think only in terms of what it will "cost" them to invest in the staff, or the systems, or the education, or the outside help they need to grow and develop their company. For them, the decision is skewed because they only look at the cost of doing something better and different.
What they ignore is the true cost of the status quo. And what they also miss is the cash that is already there, locked inside their companies.
Here's a simple example. One of our business coaching clients Chad ran a 3rd generation family-owned manufacturing company doing $2 million a year in sales. For over a year he had just accepted that his sales would continue to stay stagnate or even decline because the cost of getting the help to do something about it was just "too expensive" (plus he was also "too busy".)
Finally one day he reached his threshold and made the decision that the status quo wasn't acceptable any more. This is when we met him and began working with together.
He made one small change in the first 90 days of working together that generated over $70,000 in immediate sales. What simple idea did he implement? He instituted a formal "reactivation system" which won him back two former customers with zero marketing cost.
This simple idea, which did require him to change his old way of operating the business in the sales area, generated a quick boost of cash that he could now use to reinvest back in the business.
Yet still business owners are going to say that they just can't afford growth...
The irony is that for just about every business owner I've ever worked with, the money they needed to invest to take their business to the next level was already there in their business.
They just needed our help to quickly unlock the hard dollars that the "status quo" was actually costing them.
For example, Blake found by investing in higher caliber sales talent he increased sales in his I.T. business from 1.5 to 2.6 million per year, and he did this in 12 months.
Or take Brian, owner of a web hosting company we work with, who cut his bottom producing key word PPC advertising and saved $1,000 per month, which he redirected into his most successful key word phrases. This was a big part of his rapid growth.
Finally, take Bonnie, a five-year business coaching client, found $50,000 per year of uncollected receivables in her professional practice that she was able to quickly recover through implementing a better collections system, with a stronger control, and a more competent team member in place. Over 5 years this one simple upgrade to her business generated over a quarter of a million of additional profit for her company.
"But David, it just costs too much too grow and develop my business. I can't afford it right now..."
And this from the business owner who is already losing 10 times that to the cost of his or her real status quo.
Here are 5 suggestions for my top places to look for the cash with which to INTERNALLY grow your business (i.e. from your business, not from outside capital sources.)
- Tighten up on you're A/R collections. Most businesses leave tens of thousands of dollars or more on the table every quarter through poor collections practices.
- Focus more of your efforts on increasing your sales to your existing client base. New clients are more expensive to find and often more expensive to service. Instead, look first at the opportunities to get more from your existing customer base. Think, "How can I generate more value for my existing clients that they would happily and profitably pay me for?" Can you upsell? Cross sell? Increase your pricing and value of your offering? Get them to purchase more frequently in a way that better serves them? You get the idea.
- Cut out your wasteful spending and invest in your top producers. We call this, "Feed your winners; starve your losers." You can do this with your marketing, with your sales staff, with your product lines, etc. Constantly ask yourself how can you measure and assess which activities are your bottom producers and where else could you invest the time, money and attention if you cut these bottom producers.
- Get more efficient. Solid systems and internal controls allow your team to produce more, better, faster, and at a lower cost. So prioritize which systems cost your company the most for NOT having in place.
- Narrow your focus--own your niche. One of the biggest mistakes I watch small companies make is to try to go after too broad of a market. They think, "Larger market means bigger opportunity." But they fail to think that broader markets often means broader product or service lines, with added complexity to fulfill. One great way to sell more and lower your cost to produce or fulfill is to narrow your focus to a smaller segment or area or niche.
So you see you do have the money to fund your growth. You just need to get busy freeing it up inside your business.
Here's a great resource to help you scale your business: a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.