Tips for Business Start Ups: imagine a cashless life

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.

Questions by Business Start Ups: how do I know if I’m flogging a dead horse?

There comes a time in every young business when the cold light of day suddenly comes peeping through the windows of the illustrious entrepreneur who has been tending their new business with the love and care that befits the bright young thing of their imaginations.

The sunshine -welcomed in the real world of cash flows and budgets – is not of the warming variety though; it’s rays don’t contain the healing properties of ultraviolet light or the emotional buzz of the infrared. Instead, this sunshine shows the business up for all its deficiencies. The cash flow doesn’t flow; the market place is saturated with lookalikee businesses who are all struggling against the wind that blows down their alleyways; the business idea is just that – an idea which is not a business but just a bit of a wizard wheeze, dreamt up after too much Stella Artois, Indian takeaways or other toxic dream makers.

The bright young entrepreneur will say to themselves, after this cold shower of sunlight, so, what’s it all about Alfie? Is this a dead horse I’m flogging? An ex parrot I’m trying to resurrect? Or just a business idea that had a short but sweet life and has now outlived its usefulness and purpose in life? Does it matter any more?

And the bright young entrepreneur will recognise that there are just two questions which will provide the answer to that dilemma. Simply, is there any cash in the system? And do I have enough desire in my bones to make this work? If the answer to either of these questions is a resounding Yes, then there is still a possibility that all will come good.

A business without desire but plenty of cash will last for some time, but like the Titanic, will sink slowly and inexorably to the bottom of the ocean. But a business built on desire but without short term cash is not completely impossible; your desire will make up for that shortfall and there will always be a better, golden tomorrow when the cash flows to meet your febrile desires.

But If the answer to both these is no – ‘no cash, no desire’ then the BYE needs to throw back the curtains, let the cold light of day flood their apartment, pack their bags and get the hell out of town. Any further energies on the idea will be a waste of good time, sense, money, relations and sanity.

Read more on the desires of new businesses here: https://drnicko.com/2013/01/20/tips-for-business-start-ups-what-do-you-want-really-really-want/

Tips for Business Start Ups: 8 Questions to ask yourself about whether or not to export…

We’re increasingly being invited to talk to business audiences about the perils and pleasures of the export business – no doubt because of the pressures in the UK economic climate at the moment. We make the case that if we can export something – whether this be ideas, experiences, knowledge, products or services – then anyone can. In doing that, we found 8 questions we have kept on asking ourselves about why we started in the first place, and why we continue with it. They are:

1. Why do you want to do it? There has to be a point to you looking beyond your local shores; i.e. not just a bottom line but at least one or two ‘top lines’ which will affect your business, whether this be by improving the quality of your product, service or idea or improving your customer base.

2. Who are your partners? Because you will need partners, lots of them, in lots of different guises. You can’t do this stuff alone and if you can get support from your local LEP, UKTI, British Council or other national institutions then so much the better.

3. Who’s in the room right now? Sometimes (often) you don’t need to travel 1,000 miles to find an export partner. They may be sat right next to you, blissfully unaware of each others presence. Ask people on your own doorstep first, you’ll be astounded as to who they will introduce you to.

4. What are you selling? Products? Services? Knowledge? Access? Ideas? It doesn’t matter whether it’s one or all of these: but you have to be selling something that some-one elsewhere wants. Obvious really but sometimes an export drive can be seduced by the thrill of flights, cheap beer and balmy evening temperatures. As Milo Mindbender in Catch 22 infamously remarked, “There will always be trade.”

5. How do you deal with difference? Because you will be dealing with a ton of difference; not just food clothes and customs, but how people talk with you, their expectations of you, their business manners and table manners. If you think that your homeland can teach those people over there a thing or two about how to behave in business, then export may not be the right thing for you.

6. What language do you want to learn? You will need to learn another language – not just the phonetics, grammar and niceties of the spoken and written word- but the languages of money, of relationships, of success, of failure.

7. How will the cash flow? Once you’re talking turkey about selling turkeys to Turkey, then that’s the time to get the cash flow agreement in place. This is not easy but requires a dedication to duty sometimes beyond what is reasonable. But it matters immensely.

8. Are you running a sprint or a marathon? Are you in it for a quick fast buck or to build long term relationships? Both have their places and only you will know what’s right for your business; but just remember the nasty infections that lurk around the strangest corners. Cast your mind back to your school or university days if need be.

And in the end, the final question to ask is, Am I enjoying this? Because if not – you’re best staying put at home.