This may be completely counterintuitive to many young thrusting entrepreneurs, but the idea that you can run your business without cash is one worth considering for a couple of hours, even if – particularly if – the idea fills you with horror. Cash is king, surely? The oil in the engine? The green stuff that makes all things move, shape and manoeuvre in all the ways we desire and more besides?
Well, this is true and also not; cash has the uncanny ability to lock you into a mind set which demands you are constantly asking yourself where the next source of it is coming from, what you’re going to do with it when it arrives and why there’s not more of it than there is. Rather than oiling the wheels of your business imagination – the machinery that really counts in your business – cash can act like sand in the gear box, gradually seizing up your ability to shift through the gears, gain traction in your endeavours and generate the green stuff that really matters – the green shoots of your business ideas, what-ifs and may-bes.
Of course, the thrusting young entrepreneur might scoff, have you ever tried doing anything without cash? Do you know what it’s like to be really poor? Where you’re scrabbling around wondering how your going to feed your family at the end end of the day because there’s no green stuff lining the vaults of your bank account? And the answer from many wizened business tycoons is yes to all of that – they have all lived with the threat of impending bankruptcy, having mortgaged off their lives, family and pet dogs up to the proverbial hilt.
And what they will tell you will be surprising: cash is not king but a servant (wilful at times, for sure); it is not the oil in the engine that is vital but the presence of the engine in the first place; and that a business life without cash is necessarily worth imagining so that you don’t grind to an intellectual and emotional halt. Your business is fundamentally much more than being about cash: it’s about your imagination, your capacity to generate, edit and shape your vision and your desire to create something out of nothing. And that includes a zero sum bank balance.