This year, My wife Marcy and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. As I think about an appropriate gift for the event, I can not help but reflect on how far we've come: Ups and downs, losses and make ups, financial highs and woes, kids, and of course, the occasional moment of marital bliss. A million and one issues have brought us closer together and some have even threaten to tear us apart. Curiously, I can not help but find some similarities between my marriage journey and my business journey.
Like my marriage, my business has gone through many phases, ups and downs, growth and decline, moments that I was sure I wanted to hang up the towel, and moments that I decided to bunker down and fight for what was and is mine. Just like a marriage, a business needs many elements for success. However, since we are near Valentines Day (and my 10th year anniversary) I will focus on two elements that I think are serious: Love and Romance.
Love is that commitment Marcy and I made to each other that we were going to stick together no matter what. Our Love has grown as time and joint experiences have vested us into the relationship and strengthened our bond. Romance, is that little endorphin that our love needs to make our hearts skip a beat and make the hard times seem so far away. Simply in business, I have found that I need the love or commitment in my core to drive me when times are tough and cash flow is the Romance that I need to keep my business gears in motion.
I have read literal thousands of books and articles on the amount of commitment, capitalization, and know-how, to run a successful business. I am ashamed to say that I have not read even one book on the amount of commitment that it would take to get my marriage through its first decade and maybe only a couple of dozen articles on how to be more romantic (usually right around valentines day ). Ironic enough is the fact that I consider myself a better husband than a business person. To stay on topic, we will not seek any quotes from wife for this article, I will however focus on the romance (cash flow) side of business and how critical it is to a business' long term success.
Most businesses that fail run out of money before the business can succeed. Let me rephrase that in case it was not clear enough, you need cash flow or you are out of business. It would seem like a simple enough statement, however, I have entered enough business ventures in which I and / or my partners miscalculated the cash and cash equivalents that it would take to meet the operating, investing, and financing needs of our enterprise.
What happened next was almost predictable, we each had to make a choice between making the necessary changes to make the business cash flow, or put our energies towards other ventures that were paying for themselves and paying the bills at home. As I have gotten older and wiser (more stubborn), I have paid a little more attention to the statement of cash flows, which determines the short-term liability of any potential business venture. I have learned the hard way, that my cash flow will take a reasonable toll on my stress level and personal pocket book (again, we will refrain from seeking any quotes from my lovely wife).
So how do you tackle romance aspect of a business "cash flow"? In my marriage, I have saved to flowers, chocolates, date nights, weekend getaways, and the most important element was creativity. I have discovered that the more creative I am, the more dividends it pays. Same with business, I have had to look at small business loans, renegotiating with creditors, restructuring salaries, keeping a keen eye on expenses, borrowing from family, business cash advances, and credit card factoring.
I can not tell you how many times I have had a "stroke of genius" while trying to make payroll, investing in the future of my business, and / or renegotiating with suppliers and creditors. You see, all these groups of people have a vested interest in my success. They all have very different reasons, but they all have something to gain when I do well (even if they all seem to team up against me at the same time). I always try to keep in mind that their interest in my success is the most important leverage I need as a business person.
So here's to the next decade with Marcy and leveraging that knowledge of injecting the right amount of romance into our marriage and our business for the rest of our lives.