The first post in this series regarding small businesses was titled Big Challenges for Small Business Owners and in it we examined the three biggest challenges owners face: people, finances, and time. In the The Small Business People Puzzle: Part 1 and Part 2, we looked deeper into the challenge of finding, selecting, attracting, orienting, training, motivating, and retaining the right people to ensure a small business has the human resources to be successful. Now, let’s examine the “big challenge” of finances.

My Big Challenges post suggested some specific actions for establishing necessary financial reporting. It emphasized the need to take actions involving timely financial accounting inputs from all employees (it’s not just about expense reports!), a simple financial reporting methodology such as through QuickBooks®, and owner discipline to review such reports consistently.

While financial reporting and review are important foundations for operating your business, cash flow is by far the most important. Without money to pay vendors, employees, etc., a business will grind to a halt… especially when experiencing significant growth or during a financial market disruption (remember 2008?).

Let’s look at some ideas for handling short term cash flow shortages and long term business financing. A great place to start is to review an article in Business News Daily titled 15 Creative Financing Methods for Startups by David Mielach. Your business need not be a startup to gain funding from one or more of the methods Mr. Mielach outlines, which include:

  • Friends and family
  • Credit cards
  • Angel investors
  • Selling assets
  • Product presales
  • SBA loans
  • Bank loans or lines of credit

In addition, an Intuit article titled 4 Small-Business Financing Options You’ve Probably Never Heard Of suggests these additional sources:

  • Kabbage
  • Guidant’s iFinance
  • On Deck Capital
  • Upstart

If you are a business owner who has never had and doesn’t currently have financial management or cash flow issues, you have the luxury of ignoring your need for financial reporting and cash flow management at the moment. But, as you know, disruption in national financial markets or from industry competitors could happen at any time and thus undermine your luxurious lifestyle. Additionally, if you plan to grow revenues significantly you should be forewarned that it is classic for a business to experience cash flow issues during a period of significant growth.

I want you to be successful by addressing the big challenge of financial management in your business. If you wait until a major disruption occurs or you wake up to find your cash position is in crisis, it will cost you far more to put out your financial fire. Please take time now to be proactive and you can sleep easier at night knowing your business is properly prepared.