Growing Business Need Funding? Think “S.L.I.C.E.”

Published on September 27th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“In capitalism, if you don’t have the capital,
you can’t get the ism.”

– Unknown

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Actually, I’ve assisted in numerous case histories on this issue. So many of my clients have, sooner or later, earlier or later in life, decided to leave the world of employment and go out on their own into one sort of business or another. Some have continued in their existing industries or professions, some have ventured out into a new and exciting industry. Some of the new industries they have ventured out into have only existed for a few years.

Perhaps the one misconception that most people have about growing businesses concerns their continual need for new funding: Most people believe that a growing business gushes with extra cash, so that their owners can take out for themselves greater and greater income. The truth is just the opposite: a growing young company – no matter how successful – is almost always in constant need of extra funding. It’s like a 9-year-old child who needs new sneakers and clothing every six months due to rapid growth, but is not yet old enough to get a job to pay for them; instead, parental assistance is necessary.

If your new or growing company is in this mode, here’s a general outline of thinking that has been of help to my clients in your circumstances.

LESSON TO LEARN: If you want to be a business person, you’ve got to accept the cold, hard fact that access to capital is your oxygen; without it you simply cannot survive. Sooner or later you will have a “dry spell” that will strain your resources, or perhaps miss important opportunities due to funding restrictions that will go instead to your well-funded competitors.

There are many sources of business capital, ranging from winning the lottery to robbing a bank, neither of which would I suggest you depend on or resort to. Rather, my own clients have depended upon a variety of funding sources that are realistic. For them, we have identified five sources of potential growth capital, the first letters of which conveniently spell the acronym “S.L.I.C.E.”

Each new company has its own unique circumstances, needs, assets, resources, opportunities and quirks. But each new and growing company needs, too, its own “guide” up “the mountain” of business growth. That is why we offer this conceptual framework for you. With it you can begin to focus your thinking, focus your efforts, and more likely achieve your funding needs and your business growth goals.

A caveat: When you read over this list of five sources of growth funding, and think about it and discuss it with your friends, partners or advisors, you need to maintain a wide-open mind. One or another of the explained alternative sources of funding may, at first glance, seem entirely inapplicable, impractical and/or unfeasible. You will likely be tempted to quickly discard one of more of them as impractical, inapplicable or even beyond your company’s capabilities. I urge you not to close your mind prematurely, or for that matter, ever.

Don’t make up your mind so fast; instead brainstorm to determine how you might possibly consider each alternative funding source. No, you should not rob a bank; but you should seek out even unknown Aunt Sadie’s with lots of money and nothing to do with it. The real trick to identifying and acquiring capital for new or growing businesses is creativity, because no one source of growth capital fits all, and all you need is one. I am convinced that, but for the necessary creativity and perseverance in the search for growth capital, many businesses that failed would not have done so.

A second important point: These sources of growth capital are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are quite complementary. For example, lenders and investors like to see founders put some of their own money into the mix, or as it is often referred to, “skin in the game” before they “contribute” their own. Such “self-funding” combined with “loans,” is just one example of complementary sources of growth funding.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: With your own business needs, circumstances and opportunities in mind, consider these five broad categories of growth capital:
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Sklover’s Thought for the Work Week

Published on September 26th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

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“In the practice of tolerance,
one’s enemy is the best teacher.”

– The Dalai Lama

On behalf of my clients, I have many times stood up against people with resources, power and influence far greater than my own. Since I did not have their resources, in order to out-negotiate them, I had to find a way to first disarm them. Over time I learned to ignore their insults, never mind when they called me bad names, and to look the other way when they tried to distract me. When people marveled at how I could do that, I simply said, “I am watching and learning who they are.” But to do that, first I had to tolerate their conduct. This ability is among my greatest strengths. Thus, I owe my enemies a “thank you” for making me oh-so-much better at what I do best.

© 2016 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

[If you would like to contribute a favorite quote, saying or proverb, please submit it to us at vanessa@executivelaw.com].

Is it RIGHT to do THAT? Ethics Clarified by Six Questions

Published on September 20th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

“If you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing, just don’t do it.”

– Yiddish Proverb

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Amy, a friend of many years, called my office one day, asking if she might speak with me confidentially. And she didn’t want to speak on the telephone. So we agreed to meet in a coffee shop the next day.

What she shared with me was quite unusual, and disturbing: she was a Senior Project Manager with a large real estate and construction firm. For almost a year she had been working on the construction of one of New York City’s most famous “new landmarks” and had encountered a problem. She was asked to do something that made her nervous. She didn’t know what to do.

Recent tests on the building’s concrete foundation showed mixed results. Since the tragedy of 9/11, foundation strength standards had been raised, and only about 2/3 of the building’s tests showed sufficient strength. Although not really a part of her job, she was brought in to the central office and was asked to “cherry pick” the positive reports, and discard the reports showing deficiencies, before submission to the City’s Department of Buildings. To say the least, she was frightened.

At least those were the facts as Amy knew them. Since she was not an engineer, and was not specifically trained in reading the reports, she was relying on the discussions among the engineers on site. She understood that there was a problem from conversations with engineers she believed to be knowledgeable in these matters. And she was suspicious from the very moment she was asked to present these reports to City officials and insurance representatives, as her usual duties had nothing to do with foundation tests. Was she, she wondered, being set up as a scapegoat?

Was there a “right” or “ethical” thing to do? Whatever was the ethical thing to do, could it hurt her job and career? These were very weighty concerns.

LESSON TO LEARN: Issues like the ones Amy faced are not that unusual. These days, it seems nearly every company is under pressure from investors and others to (a) cut corners, (b) bend the rules, and (c) twist the truth, usually in the name of cost savings or deadline pressures. It seems more often than in previous times that commercial considerations are coming into direct conflict with ethical concerns.

The issue might be one of public safety, or it might be a matter of tax evasion. Or pressures to cheat customers. One day it might be one issue; the next day it might be a different one. Whatever the issue, the dilemmas abound. It’s often hard to know what to do, when competing pressures are upon you. And those pressures can take their toll.

For those in this circumstance, we offer a rather simplified analytical tool that we sometimes call “The Six Questions to Ethical Clarity.” It is a set of basic, simple questions to ask yourself to figure out what is right to do when you’re simply not sure.

One thing about what is “right” to do: it can depend on one’s experience, one’s perspective and one’s judgment. That is, we all sometimes have “blind spots” in different situations. For that reason the question “Is it right to do?” often suggests getting the views of others with experience, perspective and judgment you trust. Just think about it: even the greatest ethicists of all time can and do disagree at times about “Is it RIGHT to do THAT?

WHAT YOU CAN DO: We do not claim any exclusive right to these six questions, because the ideas underlying them are commonly found in published articles, like this one, about ethical dilemmas in different situations. However, we present them to you in the context of issues that arise during employment, along with certain insights gleaned from the our client experiences over three decades.
Continue Reading. . .

Sklover’s Thought for the Work Week

Published on September 19th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

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“He who truly knows has no occasion to shout.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

Get to know your stuff really well and – hey – you become just too hard to argue with. Understanding the in’s and the out’s, the why’s and the how’s, and pretty much every perspective in your field, and there’s little else you need to do or say. True expertise speaks so eloquently by itself that those who possess it often need to say little else.

© 2016 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved

[If you would like to contribute a favorite quote, saying or proverb, please submit it to us at vanessa@executivelaw.com].

Workplace Negotiating Insight: Always Bear in Mind Who Called Who?

Published on September 15th, 2016 by Alan L. Sklover

eye

Always Bear in Mind:
Who Called Who?

Imagine that someone called you, and offered to buy your house, and you said, “Well, then, make me an offer.” Imagine, then, that she offered you $100,000, and you said “Don’t be silly; this house is worth at least $400,000.”

If she started to argue with you, tell you that you are being unreasonable, and said you were not negotiating in good faith, you would be wise to remind the caller: “Who Called Who?

Said differently, “You are the one who initiated the conversation, the one who seems to care more, and the one who seems to need this transaction . . . If you don’t want to talk about what I want, you and I don’t need to talk any more.”

In workplace matters . . . if, as examples, you are recruited to interview, if you are offered a retention agreement, if you are given a promotion “with strings,” if you are asked to relocate or become an expatriate, or if you are offered a buy-out of your job, in any of these situations, and others, too, you would be wise to bear in mind that “They called you.”

Sure, there are many things to consider if an opportunity comes your way, but in the negotiating – the give-and-take about terms and conditions – always bear in mind the leverage of “Who Called Who?”

You probably don’t need to remind whoever called you of this leverage, but if he or she is a good negotiator, you may well need to continually remind yourself.

When you are the one receiving the call, request, invitation or proposal, you have and should use – and not give away – significant leverage.

Remember: “Who Called Who?

© 2016, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 30 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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