What Do Small Businesses Really Need?

By |2017-09-14T11:21:14-07:00May 2nd, 2014|

steve strauss - access to capital phoenix - dun & bradstreet credibility corpI’ve been a small business owner for 20 years now, and I have been speaking to entrepreneurs and writing a USA TODAY column for them (us!), since the Internet Paleozoic era, circa 1997. Along the way, I have learned many impressive things about my small businesses brethren:

  • Small business owners are usually in it for reasons that go way beyond making a buck; they love what they do and do it to make a difference.
  • They are the hardest working people you will find
  • They are quite passionate about what they do
  • While they may have to take no for an answer sometimes, they really don’t like to
  • They create businesses of all sizes, based upon visions of all types

But no matter how varied their enterprises and how different their businesses, there is one thing that is true for any business, for all businesses:

They need capital.

Capital funds the dream. Capital starts startups and generates growth. Capital is the oxygen that entrepreneurs need to breathe life into their venture so that they can create new jobs, produce products, and make that difference.

And that is why I was so happy to be part of Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corporation’s inaugural 2014 Access to Capital event in Phoenix on March 26th. Access to Capital is an ongoing event that gives entrepreneurs exactly that – access to capital. Between panel discussions with experts, followed by one-on-one meetings with local lenders, the event seeks to give entrepreneurs not only the know-how of how to get the money they need, but the know-who: meeting the exact people who can help them, well, access capital.

Funding is not only much more accessible today than it was even a few years ago, but there are also a lot more options than there used to be. Back in the day, there were but a few ways for entrepreneurs to fund their businesses. They could have taken out a traditional business loan, used their own funds, or tapped friends & family. Those were the Big Three. But what we shared with people in Phoenix, and what we will be sharing with folks at the upcoming Access to Capital event in San Diego on June 5, is that the options today are many and varied – from crowdfunding to SBA loans to microloans and more.

For example, on the “Traditional and Alternative Forms of Lending” panel that I moderated, we heard from Robyn Barrett, the founder of a factoring business. Factoring is an alternative form of funding for business owners with poor credit or who otherwise need immediate cash. It allows them to sell their accounts receivable to the factoring company, thus producing an immediate infusion of capital into the business (instead of waiting, say, 60 days to be paid on the invoice.)

There were a few takeaways from the event that would be valuable for any small business seeking capital to bear in mind:

  1. Know that lenders want to lend to you: Lenders are in the business of lending money, and they really like to lend money to small businesses. It is your job therefore to make your business so attractive and financially sound that a lender cannot say no to you.
  2. Do your work: Given the above, it follows that there are things you can do to ensure that you will get that loan: Show a consistent profit; Have a good credit history (both personally and business-wise); Have a solid business plan; Have unencumbered collateral ready if needed.
  3. Know your options: As I mentioned, these days there are a myriad of ways to get your business funded that go far beyond the traditional bank loan. It would behoove you to learn what they are and add some to your funding arsenal. That’s how you get fully funded, and that is what we aim to teach folks at Access to Capital.

We will be taking the show on the road all year, so check back here and find out when we might be coming to your neck of the woods. It should certainly be worth your time because, after all, our goal is to help you fund your dream too.

Photo credit: Stephen Shirk