Capital is the fuel that makes a business run and allows it to grow.  Although there are many definitions of the term capital in business, for small business owners it generally means one thing: Cash!  A business nes cash to pay its bills, pay its employees, purchase s and to pay the owner! Capital reserves are essential during s when sales are lean and equally important when there is opportunity to expand the business.

Another period when capital is vital but is often lacking or even non-existent: the -Up Stage.  The Start-Up Stage bens the day a new business opens its doors and continues until it generates enough sales revenue to be self-sustaining. 

The Start-Up Stage is the most dangerous stage of business development, often lasting two years or longer.  It is so dangerous, in fact, that we call it the weing out stage be, on average, 44 out of every 100 new businesses will die within three years of opening their doors.  Why? One of the most common reasons is a lack of capital ne to pay the bills while waiting for the business to generate a profit.

A new business nes cash to get start: cash to pay rent, advertising, payroll, other expenses and the owner’s personal bills.  Most small businesses open their doors with very little, or even zero, start-up capital – Owners leap into business on a whim and a shoestring with very little planning or access to capital.  


The Capital Challenge: When these new entrepreneurs finally realize they are going to ne to find some cash to survive they must face another reality: the unlikelihood of obtaining it from investors or banks.   This should be expect, especially if the owner and business have no track record of business success.  Investors will demand proof that your business idea will work.  Banks will want collateral and proof the owner can pay back the loan if the business flounders.



Common Failure Scenario:  The inability to successfully plan for the capital challenge fs the genesis of many small business failures.  Here is a common scenario:   


Meeting the Challenge:  The good news is that your business does not have to follow this common trajectory.  To drastically increase your start-up’s chances for success while avoiding the scenario describ above, consider the following advice:



1. Objectively evaluate risk:  In s, entrepreneurs are call “risk-takers.”  This may be true.  However, most successful entrepreneurs – while eternally optimistic and enthusiastic about their ideas and ability – take highly-calculat risks, not whimsical chances, by realistically evaluating the challenge ahead of them. 

If you’re a first- entrepreneur preparing to start a new business, ask yourself four basic questions:

2. Don’t expect a windfall of capital: Many start-up owners spend their most precious resource – – seeking investors or lenders to finance their great idea before they have shown the idea will even work.  Planning is important but, remember, most investors and financiers will want to see results before they will take a risk on your venture.  Instead of going door to door soliciting your idea, invest your testing and refining the plan in the marketplace.  This will allow you to work out the kinks and show investors what they want to know: 

3. Start small – but think scale: Most small business owners start their business with very limit resources.  To compensate for this limitation, develop a plan to prove your business is profitable in one location or with a stream-lin offering.  Remember that your are buying the experience of obtaining that /service as much as they are the /service itself.  As you refine the systems that deliver that experience and your /service, ask yourself the following question:  How can these systems be duplicat to provide the same experience and quality to 10, 20, even 1,000 s more ?   


4. Don’t quit your day job (at least not yet): Countless large companies start off very small – In the proverbial garage, in evenings and weekends on a shoestring budget.  If you don’t possess the independent to self-fund your start-up while sustaining your lifestyle, start with a small, part- venture.  This will greatly ruce your financial risk.  Starting part- will also allow you to continue working your regular job, avoiding racking up debt to cover your personal costs.  It will also allow you the opportunity to refine and test your idea/business model with maximum flexibility and without the distraction of employees, investors and lenders.

5. Think creative financing:  If you are lucky enough to find lenders early in your venture, try to work out repayment arrangements that do not interrupt cash flow.  For example: Borrowing $20,000 over five years will cost you over $300 per month, every month.  This may not sound like a lot of money, but during months when sales are low it could break the bank. 
 
Instead of traditional, fix payment financing, try to structure repayment as a percentage of gross sales or gross profit.  This will make the payment a variable rather than a fix one.  Payments will be lower in lean months and higher in months when sales revenue is up.  If things go well, the lender will be paid off early.  When s are lean, the ruc payment will allow you to put food on the table.

6. Get everyone on board:  Chances are, s will be financially lean in the benning of your venture.  There will also be limit to participate in many family activities.  These two factors can create a great deal of household stress.  Before you leap into business, make sure everyone knows and agrees to the challenge ahead of them.  If possible, consider getting them personally involv in the business.  This will help create a team-like culture that will greatly ruce the chances of family and interpersonal crisis. 

One of the greatest challenges facing new business owners is finding the money, the capital, with which to finance their venture.  Following the advice list above will help you face this reality head-on and meet the financial challenge that will accompany your start-up.  It will also help you to refine your idea into a provable business investors will want to be part of.

 

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