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Small Business

When the Growing Gets Tough

By Nelson Davis

If customers owe you money, view those funds as uncaptured dollars. Simply being a bit more aggressive about collecting your accounts receivable can increase cash flow by 10% to 15%.

The best salespeople and marketers I've ever met have two traits that lift them above conventional hard-times thinking. One is that they are prepared to persistently give before expecting to receive, and the other is a clear recognition that they must always think first of the client or prospect's issues. Those principles can also support your money quest.

Does an existing client or prospect have a problem that you know about and can help solve? Those enterprises may fund your development work to create a new product or service they desperately need. They, of course, would be the first customers for something that may have wider applications or a long commercial future.

PURSUING HIDDEN DOLLARS. In hard times, venture capital only gives the impression of having totally disappeared. It doesn't really go away, but simply becomes a bit more selective. One useful aspect of all this is that venture capitalists have more time to look at deals and a greater inclination to consider situations that in "easy picking" times would be considered marginal. Money is always seeking opportunities. Present your situation as a wonderful opportunity. You can create a password-protected section of your Web site that contains a full Power Point presentation for your business or new idea. It can contain audio and video along with pertinent spreadsheets and other sales information.

Your attitude is everything. When a person has a job, the unemployment rate is zero; when that same person doesn't, the rate is 100%. Don't let reports of tough times completely shape your attitude. You are looking for singular opportunities to serve the interests and needs of people who have money to lend or invest. On any day of the week, checks are being written to small-business owners like you all over the country. What you want to do is place yourself squarely in the path of someone who controls these funds. Money, like water, tends to gather in places we call pools! Your task is to create that place where it feels comfortable.

Don't ignore the usual suspects. There are many loan-guarantee programs around the country, beginning with those offered by the Small Business Administration. In addition, economic-development groups exist for businesses of all sizes -- there's even a growing trend of churches to have loan programs.

In fact, during hard times, your money hunt can benefit from yet another fundamental, namely Biblical advice: "Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. Ask and you shall receive."

Prior to launching his production company, Davis was a partner in several small businesses, including a submarine-sandwich shop, Fat Albert's, which became a 14-shop chain.

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