What would you choose? Investment finance or small business advice?

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Marinus van Reymerswaele (Follower of) (Zeeland, The Netherlands, 1490 - Goes, Zeeland, The Netherlands, 1546)
Marinus van Reymerswaele (Follower of) (Zeeland, The Netherlands, 1490 – Goes, Zeeland, The Netherlands, 1546)

Sometimes we can meet the right person at the right time and it seems like luck. But is it luck? Perhaps it’s at times when we are most down that we open ourselves up and let strangers into our lives who can help us.

When I was going through a difficult period I met an old-school sales person and financial adviser who gave me so much help that I could never really pay him back. He shared his business methods, dug out his old sales training material from years back and took me door to door on “knock, knock” sales calls. I learned to live skills from him that you won’t find at high school, in your university studies or even sometimes in families, no matter how well meaning they are.

If you were given the choice what would you choose – financial assistance with your start-up or small business or small business advice?

Before you choose consider that start up money is important for any small business. Unless you have built up your own investment kitty you will need to look for external sources of funding. For many small businesses this might be from their credit cards because they don’t need to sign sureties. Bank loans or overdrafts require sureties and often if you can’t get out of a surety you virtually sign away all your personal assets.

An investor may not necessarily require a surety but they are not going to give away the money to you for nothing. Either they will want a share of ownership in your business or a portion of your returns, or both. Unfortunately what this will mean is that you as the small business owner who started the business will no longer have absolute control over your business.

How important is strategic advice to your business when you are just starting out or when you run your business?

Growing a business requires much more than money although without money you won’t have a business. But let’s just say that you have the finance in place. Then what is important is the planning, specialised knowledge, industry networks and strategic implementation that provides you with an advantage over your competitors. Strategic advice by someone who knows your industry and has developed business experience and expertise in your market domain can be a source of huge value.

I saw a company the other day in the highly competitive health drinks business which benefited from a business adviser who had marketing and distribution expertise. The small business was able to market in the early stages using guerilla marketing tactics, trade shows, placement in natural food grocery stores and was positioned as a natural, healthy meal replacement. In the first year the small business realised stocking of the product in 600 stores and sales were beyond expectations. This is the difference that a small business adviser with knowledge of an industry can provide.

It’s difficult to separate initial investment finance or working capital for operations and cash flow from specialised business advice. If you are able to get both from one business adviser or a specialised company in the field, it may be worth your while to consider.

For my money I would choose the specialised business advice over money from just a moneylender. Such advice can save you much trial and error and reduce the risks associated in today’s tough markets.

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