Cash Flow Blues

Y’all. Some lessons you’ll never learn in advance, no matter how many times others warned you that they’re coming for you.

Cash flow challenges, for example, you may remember thinking to yourself (or you may be thinking to yourself right now) sound luxurious when you don’t even have revenue coming in to manage.

Well, I’ve recently gone through some big initiations on my way to the next step and I just want to give you a realistic view of a few initiations you can expect to come your way if you haven’t gone through them already.

(And, by the way, every single one of these things will come your way if you’re committed to a bigger stage. So just enjoy the learning process and embrace the stuff that feels great as well as the stuff that doesn’t feel as great as part of the process on your way to the next level because it 100% is.)

#1: Cash flow.

If you haven’t faced a cash flow crunch yet you will. And don’t think it’s unique to the small business owner. I loved a recent podcast I listened to with Tony Robbins where spoke to cash flow issues at every stage of the game by basically saying, “You want to buy an island but you don’t have enough liquid resources.” We can all relate, right? 😉

The point here is that you cannot take your eye off of cash flow no matter how or where you’re playing. And…the bigger you get the more cash flow becomes an actual thing that on which you will be laser focused.

We’re in that right now with my company. We’re looking to the future and realizing that in order to take on some of the larger clients we have our eye on, we’ll need more company savings in order to keep cash flow comfortable (aaaaaaand, here’s a bonus initiation for you: you need to pay your team, yourself, your other expenses, AND your company).

Companies live and get crushed by cash flow more…even more than profit margin, especially once you get into the multiple six-figure and beyond arena. I’ll do an upcoming blog post with some simple formulas to help you understand your cash flow health a little better, so watch for that. But the biggest thing to know is that cash flow is like the blood flow of your company: it’s pumping through your business body and delivering life force to every branch of operations. Cut off that flow at any stage for any length of time and you may have a very serious problem on your hands. In fact, you probably will.

#2: Copycats.

Someone copies your work.

Ahhhhh, yes.

Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

It’s more like, incredibly annoying, and, in some cases, may require your legal team to step in and take action.

You’ll figure out what’s best for you and your company when it happens, but I’ll just leave you with this comforting thought: as you scale it will happen to you. 😉

Just knowing that can help you be a little calmer, mentally, when it does. Just mark it in your mind as an initiation.

#3: Bad Reviews + Legal Actions

You get a bad review or legal action against you.

I’ve coached a dozen clients, at this point, through this particular scenario. Please refer to #2 for my advice there.

You cannot take this as a personal attack or affront or judgement on how you run your company. I’ve had clients who get stuck on bad reviews and others who were so afraid of potential legal action if they made a client unhappy that they’d almost have preferred not to grow.

But here’s the thing, growth will automatically bring these things. Internalize this and you’ll simply prepare for it instead of worry about it.

One of my clients, a big startup, was advised by one of the best legal teams in the country that they could consider the first legal action against them as a milestone because it usually correlated to a certain amount of growth or attention.

Remember, litigation is just a natural (perhaps unfortunate) part of business these days, so you can’t take it personally, you just have realize that it will happen and move on.

And a bad review?
By someone who’s not even your client or used your product?

Well, my dear readers, again, that just goes with the territory. Do what you can to protect your company against false reviews (like asking for the review to be reviewed by the platforms review team), but, understand that this is just the world in which we live.

You will get bad reviews, especially as you grow, and the best thing you can do is handle it professionally and with a good amount of grace.

#4: Your Team Leaves

Like, your favorite team member leaves you.
For your competition…
…and other sad stories.

I love my team like family and it would be hard if they left, but many of them will, at some point, move on to other opportunities. It’s a reality you just have to get used to and be cool with. And here’s a hint, the cooler and more loving you are about it, the more likely they are to come back to work with you again at some point (cue the celebration party!). I know this from happy experience.

#5: Contractions

You experience a contraction (and fa-reak out).

Here’s the thing you already know but we can always use a reminder from time to time:

You do not get to grow without also contracting.

It’s not a regular occurrence, but we’ve “lost” clients in my agency.

The first time it happened I took it as a personal affront on our work and I was bummed for days.

The truth is, it’s just part of business.

And, quite honestly, the larger the clients we take on, the more attrition I’ll expect to experience because that’s just how the industry works. It’s never fun, but here’s one thing I’ve discovered: If you handle it well and STILL look at it as a long-term relationship, those clients will either 1) circle back to your services (as is often the case in the marketing world where large clients rotate between a few firms that they like) or 2) refer you to others.

Again, I know both of these things from experience. Do yourself a huge favor and just be big business about this. Track your attrition and use those numbers to establish baselines, and help project what your company’s bottom line might look like based on those rates. Then, figure out ways to lessen your attrition as you move forward (getting feedback from your clients is key here).

So many small business owners and entrepreneurs that I work with are so afraid of these moments that they shrink themselves to a level where these more challenging milestones are less likely happen. They only work with friends and close acquaintances so they never have to face potential legal actions or bad reviews. They keep their companies small so that they don’t have to face what can feel like the rejection of a contraction or so that they don’t ever have to worry about the complexity of cash flow that comes with the territory of growing.

But here’s what I have to say to all of that. You’ve figured out so much already, you’ll figure these challenges out as well. The best advice I can offer is to prepare for them as best you can, but don’t worry about them. If you’ll embrace it as all part of the journey, you’ll be that much better off and will be able to thoughtfully process them and keep your business train moving forward.

Which initiations would you add to the list here? Reply and let me know!

p.s. I’m writing a guidebook…on the journey to your first (or next!) 6-figures! Stay tuned for more details, coming soon!