FOR ESP: The Quest for Financial IndependenceBy Michael Vizard | Posted 2008-07-18 Email Print
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As most small business owners, solution providers often face financial challenges that require some attention.
One of the most common complaints from the owners of solution providers is how little they personally make from their businesses. Once they cover operating and capital costs, plus payroll, little is left for the owner. Worse yet, there isn’t much left to invest back into the company. As a result, solution providers are frequently unprepared for the next evolutionary change in technology.
This is typical of small businesses, according to Howard Milove, a financial planner with Access Wealth Planning, a wealth management firm in Roseland, N.J. Milove lists the following among the most common challenges faced by small business owners:
* They don’t save money outside the business: A lot of business owners live well during the life of the business because so much can be written off. But most fail to put away anything toward a retirement account. And if the business does not have much recurring revenue, it may not have as much value as the owner thinks when they try to sell it.
* They don’t use business credit or business loans: All too often the business is backed by a high-interest personal credit card. Milove points out this practice tends to inhibit how much money owners have to invest outside the business so the best course of action is to establish a line of business credit.
* They don’t have an exit strategy: Once they start the business, most owners have no idea how they might actually sell the business. As a result, the business dies when they leave it, which means it had no value beyond sustaining the owner’s lifestyle. To prevent this, Milove says owners need to start planning their exit strategy five to seven years before they plan to leave the business.
* They don’t plan for tomorrow: All too often running a small business starts out as a lifestyle choice. As result, Milove says owners fail to tuck money away when times are good in anticipation of tougher times.
* They don’t provide for their families should the unexpected occur: In the event of an untimely death or disability, most owners have no plan in place allowing the business to continue without them.
* They don’t have personal health or life insurance: This is one of the first things that owners do without as they launch the business. And even as the business grows, Milove says they often forget to revisit the decision.
These issues are only the tip of the iceberg. A small cottage industry has emerged in recent years that consists of consulting firms working with solution providers to turn them into better-run organizations that ultimately are more profitable. For example, CompTIA at its August conference in Orlando, Fla., is hosting some financial planning classes for solution providers that will be taught by Paul Dippel, CEO of Service Leadership Inc.
Whatever the path a solution provider chooses to take to attain financial independence doesn’t really matter all the much. What matters is the channel is going to be only as strong as the collective financial health of each individual company in it. And if vendors are concerned about the health of the channel, then you can bet they are going to start looking for alternative routes to market they perceive will be more stable over time. And that is in nobody’s best interests.
Michael Vizard is Strategic Content Expert for Ziff Davis Enterprise. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.