We are always surprised by the number of startups that don’t use, or even know about, lines of credit. The first thing we hear is usually, “I need more money!” Sure you do. But the real question is how to get it. Today, with Shark Tank, Venture Capitalists, and term sheets, you’d think the only way to get your business going is by giving up a big chunk of ownership. You may believe there is no other way!
There are several other ways to raise capital for your business, but they all require that dirty word that everyone seems to shun, “Sales!” Yes, sales. We found it down right shocking that out of 40 schools of entrepreneurship where we have spoken over the past three years, only one taught sales. Real sales! Not sales management, not sales projections, not marketing, but real sales, from “Get out of my office!” to “I’ll take two truckloads!” And that only happened because one of the entrepreneurial benefactors of that school said, “Hey, why don’t you guys teach sales?”
When you think of sales as a pitch to an investor, you are starting off on the wrong foot. You might start using terms like “burn rate,” as in how fast you burn through cash without income (from sales) to offset it. You might even get the idea that you have “succeeded” because you got an investor when in fact you may be a long way from a positive cash flow.
Before the investment, you couldn’t lose. Now you can lose the investor’s money. Now you can go back and ask for more because, you may think, if the investor’s in for a dime, he’s in for a dollar. But even if you do get more funding, it comes with a price. You lose more and more of your company until you are working for the VC – who now wants to sell the company the first time he thinks he can get his money back. So much for growth!
We all see so many crowd-funded ideas that never see the light of the retail marketplace. How can this keep happening? Lack of sales before their crowd-funded investment is depleted by extensive R&D and operating costs – that’s how!
So that’s why we advise our clients to get a good sales education first, before trying anything entrepreneurial. The liberal arts are a good place to start. You know, communication, history, culture, psychology, and philosophy to name a few. The human, or soft, skills along with actual sales training can make a positive difference in your business, especially in the early stages.
We also advise our clients to start small and focus on a small area. Limit your number of offerings until you have achieved positive cash flow. Find out what quirks and service requirements lie in a small market so you can take your well-rehearsed show on the road. Make sales your top priority.
If you do, you may qualify for a line of credit from your local banker. Without taking any percentage of ownership, your bank can set up a “revolving charge” so to speak, where your accounts receivable, purchase orders, and inventory are held as temporary collateral to advance funds you can use to pay your bills and grow your business. But it all starts with sales.
Sure, they’ll probably want a “warehouseman’s lien” on your inventory that gives them first dibs if you go south. They’ll want to set up a separate account to collect your receivables. But that can be done on a zero-balance, sweep basis where you only pay for what you need. And isn’t that better than giving up the ownership of your company?
Make sales. Get a “Line.” Save your ownership. Pay your bills. And grow your business!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.