At the October Executive Development Forum I brought
together three CEOs to share thoughts and war stories relating to
business. They were Nancy Matijasich – Manifest Corp; Tom Bell – Bell Haun Systems; and David Bianconi – Progressive Medical. I’m going to bullet point some important points from the session.
- Cash is King!: Get to know the accounts payable people they can be very helpful in getting you paid in a timely manner. Manifest Corp ran on cashflow only until they were $3.5 million in sales.
- Remember you are the vendors clients. It is a two way street. It is to their benefit to keep you as a customer.
- Everything is negotiable. Ask for extended terms, early payments from clients, offer discounts for cash payments, etc.
- Go to the banks when you don’t need the cash.
- Learn from the mistakes of others because you won’t have enough time to make them all yourself.
- Find good employees that match your culture. Look for people that are high energy and passionate.
- Hiring is a crap-shoot. No matter how much due diligence you do up front you won’t know how someone will perform until they are on staff.
- Expect production.
- Work hard, play hard.
- Allow top producers more freedom.
At the October Executive Development Forum I brought together three CEOs to share thoughts and war stories relating to business. They were Nancy Matijasich – Manifest Corp; Tom Bell – Bell Haun Systems; and David Bianconi – Progressive Medical. I’m going to bullet point some important points from the session.
- Good is great’s #1 enemy. Knowing this will change the way you do business. If you are constantly looking to go to the next level you will be more likely to see the trends that will impact your business and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.
- Don’t "over plan". Develop a six to 12 month plan and a 90 day plan. Continually compare your plan to actual and make adjustments.
- Plan for failure. Do your projections then cut revenue in half and double the expenses.
- Cash is King! Companies don’t fail due to lack of sales, they run out of cash.
- Prioritize how you spend your cash…Government, employees, bills, owners.
- You might think you have a great business idea but does anyone else? Talk to potential customers and do your research.
- Starting a business is an assault. Know yourself and what you do. Understand your business and manage it.
- Exist to serve your customers and the money will follow.
- Don’t buy into your press clippings. There is always someone out there looking to take your business.
- Don’t hire to potential.
- Love what you do and maintain the passion.
- Know what not to do, not what to do.
- Entrepreneurs are unique. There are pressures you have to deal with and not everyone can handle it.
- Know people will not talk to you when you are trying to make sales.
I thought I’d give a plug to Guy Kawasaki’s book The Art of the Start. It’s been out about a year now and it has gotten good press. Guy was here and spoke at the Ohio Growth Summit back in June. As a matter of fact he is pictured with me and Nick Warnock (who appeared on the first season of the Apprentice) on the left side of this site. I’ve seen Guy speak several times and read most of his books. Guy is an entertaining speaker and writer. He has seen a lot since his early days at Apple in the Macintosh division. The Art of the Start won’t be confused for a detailed text book but it contains good information for early stage entrepreneurs. He does, however, hit the key points in starting a business, specifically a high growth business. Many of his points are the same thing I tell people on a daily basis.
His major thrust is to encourage entrepreneurs to build businesses and make meaning, don’t do it for the money. I agree with this however don’t forget totally about the money. When seeking to build an high growth business and seek investors it is important to show a solid business that is addressing a true need in the market. Build a business that provides something people need and "will pay for". That is the key…who is out there to buy your product and how will you get them to buy it. If you can answer that you are on the right rack with your business.