Lack of cash flow: the single biggest reason small to medium sized businesses fail


Most businesses start when someone has a great idea. That person will then passionately share the idea with their nearest and dearest and experience a whole raft of mixed reactions to their amazing idea. Anything from ‘great idea, go for it’ through to ‘oh no, that is a crazy idea – don’t risk your job/time/money on that.’

Hopefully, we follow our heart and passion and go for it.

Reality will set in. We will find ourselves working horrendous hours and taking home very little income. And the nay sayers quietly think ‘told you so’.

I’ve been in business for almost 30 years. How many times have we let people crush our ideas because they feel it’s too risky, or not the right time? Perhaps that’s because they never take risks and don’t want you to show them up!

How frustrating and how tragic.

BUT – there’s a difference between a dream and a dreamer.

Dreamers tend to rush out and buy a flash new car; purchase or rent glitzy and expensive offices; spend a fortune on ‘looking’ good as opposed to spending their time and money on setting up solid structures that will get the business off the ground.

If it is your ‘dream’ then you will do whatever it takes to make it work; you will go without all the glitzy trappings to make sure your dream becomes a reality.

So here are my 4 tips for watching that cash flow and ensuring your business works:

  1. Make sure you have at least 6 months money put aside to live on until you make your first sale. In fact my suggestion is to ALWAYS keep 6 months money put aside because there will be highs and lows no matter what business you start and there is nothing more off-putting when you come across as desperate when talking to a potential client.
  2. DON’T rent offices or space until you absolutely need to. Work from home or the library if possible – if you DO need space to set up your business then work from your garage or find someone you can share premises with.
  3. DON’T pay for any services unless you have to – swap your expertise for your suppliers expertise. For example – you will need business cards and possibly flyers – see if you can find a print company that needs YOUR services and do a contra.
  4. If you do have a poor month sales wise – have a garage sale of ‘stuff’ – clear out all the junk from your home that you really don’t need. It’s amazing how much cash you can generate from ‘stuff’. It will pay the grocery bills for a few weeks and put petrol in your car.

I wish someone had told me these tips before I started my first business. However, even after making practically all the mistakes in the book – 30 years later I’m still in business.

I’ve had some really rough times for sure – but not once have I ever been tempted to give up my dream and go back into the workplace. I’d rather be my own boss even if I have to live on beans on toast now and again, than give up on my passion.

And my gift to you – grab my latest book ‘The 7 Tragic Ways Businesses Sabotage Their Own Success’. It’s free! 


Ann Andrews CSP

MD The Corporate Toolbox

MD Big Thinking Business


Ann Andrews CSP specialises in working with high performing teams and showing managers how to deal with poor performance.

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