Four Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail to Grow

Running a small business requires superior problem- solving and an ability to look at the bigger picture. Aside from ensuring that your business turns a profit on a regular basis, you also need to be concerned with your own financial health over the long-term. That includes having a strategy in place for building wealth, so you can enjoy a comfortable retirement once the time comes to hand over the reins of your business to someone else. As an entrepreneur, there are certain hurdles you should be prepared for that can hinder your ability to create wealth. (For a detailed rundown, see? Investigator’s tutorial Starting a Small Business.) Here are four important challenges small business owners face.

1. Too Much Business Debt

Getting a small business off the ground typically requires a certain amount of cash. Taking out a term loan from a bank or a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan may be the answer, if you don’t have sizable savings you can tap into. With a 7 SBA loan, for example, it’s possible to borrow up to $5 million to establish a new business.

Even if you don’t need a loan to get started, that doesn’t mean your business will – or should remain debt-free. For instance, you may decide to open a business credit card to earn rewards on day-to-day expenses or take a merchant cash advance to help cover your cash flow during slower periods. Or you may want to borrow to expand, especially if the business is doing well. While credit cards, advances and loans can be invaluable to keeping the business running, their convenience comes at a cost.

If a substantial part of your business’ revenue is going toward repaying its debts, that leaves less income to devote to growth. It also leaves you, as the business owner, less money to funnel into a solo 401(k), SEP IRA or similar qualified retirement plan to ensure your own future. While the interest on a small business loan, the payments themselves are not. Paying down your business debts allows you to redirect funds toward your retirement or a taxable brokerage account instead.

2. An Inefficient Tax Strategy

As a small business owner, filing and paying taxes may be one of the most unpleasant tasks on your to-do list, but it’s a necessity. If you’re not taking advantage of every available tax break, your wealth without even realizing it. There are a number of tax credits deductions that you can claim on your business or personal tax return? An expense must be deemed both ordinary and necessary. This means the expense must be something that’s commonly associated with the type of business you own and directly connected to its operation.

When you don’t take the time to maximize every possible tax advantage, the result is an overly large tax payment. Hiring an accountant to manage your filing may increase your business expenses slightly, but it can also help to minimize your tax liability. In terms of building wealth, the long-term benefit can easily outweigh the cost.

3. Lack of Diversification

Being a business owner requires a certain amount of juggling, and you simply may not have time to pay as much attention to your investments as you’d like. The size of your assets affects your overall financial standing, including how banks see you, especially if you’re a sole proprietor. Investing in mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, eliminates the hassle of trying to put together a well-rounded portfolio, but it can be problematic if the funds you’re purchasing hold the same underlying securities.

Business owners can also run into issues if they’re not rebalancing periodically. This is vital to ensure that you’re maintaining the right asset allocation, based on your investment goals and risk tolerance. If you don’t rebalance regularly, you could end up with a portfolio that’s either too aggressive or too conservative. At one end of the scale, you run the risk of losing money by gambling too heavily on stocks. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you risk limiting your earnings potential if you’re playing it safe with an abundance of bonds. Either way you’re putting your future returns in jeopardy by not paying attention to the level of diversification in your portfolio.

4. External Risks

Aside from managing market risk, you also need to be cautious about insulating yourself and your business from threats that may arise in other areas. For instance, what would happen to the business if you were to become ill and could no longer oversee its operation? How would your business and personal assets be protected if your business became the target of a lawsuit? What would you do if your business was damaged by a hurricane or other natural disaster?

These are the kinds of questions small business owners must consider, because although such scenarios may seem unlikely, they can have a substantial impact on how you grow wealth. Choosing the appropriate business structure is an important step in minimizing liability, but you should also be proactive in reviewing your business and personal insurance coverage to ensure that you’re protected against every possibility.

How to Get Your Business Funded in 2018

Contrary to popular belief, business plans do not generate business financing. True, there are many kinds of financing options that require a business plan, but nobody invests in a business plan.

Investors need a business plan as a document that communicates ideas and information, but they invest in a company, in a product, and in people.

Small business financing myths:
Venture capital is a growing opportunity for funding businesses. Actually, venture capital financing is very rare. I’ll explain more later, but assume that only a very few high-growth plans with high-power management teams are venture opportunities.

Bank loans are the most likely option for funding a new business. Actually, banks don’t finance business start-ups. I’ll have more on that later, too. Banks aren’t supposed to invest depositors’ money in new businesses.

Business plans sell investors. Actually, they don’t well-written and convincing business plan (and pitch) can sell investors on your business idea, but you’re also going to have convince those investors that you are worth investing in. When it comes to investment, it’s as much about whether you’re the right person to run your business as it is about the viability of your business idea.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a business plan. You should. Your business plan is an essential piece of the funding puzzle, explaining exactly how much money you need, and where it’s going to go, and how long it will take you to earn it back. Everyone you talk to is going to expect to see your business plan.

But, depending on what kind of business you have and what your market opportunities are, you should tailor your funding search and your approach. Don’t waste your time looking for the wrong kind of financing.

Where to look for money
The process of looking for money must match the needs of the company. Where you look for money, and how you look for money, depends on your company and the kind of money you need. There is an enormous difference, for example, between a high-growth internet-related company looking for second-round venture funding and a local retail store looking to finance a second location.

In the following sections of this article, I’ll talk more specifically about different types of investment and lending available, to help you get your business funded.

1. Venture capital

The business of venture capital is frequently misunderstood. Many start-up companies resent venture capital companies for failing to invest in new ventures or risky ventures. People talk about venture capitalists as sharks-because of their supposedly predatory business practices, or sheep-because they supposedly think like a flock, all wanting the same kinds of deals.

This is not the case. The venture capital business is just that-a business. The people we call venture capitalists are business people who are charged with investing other people’s money. They have a professional responsibility to reduce risk as much as possible. They should not take more risk than is absolutely necessary to produce the risk/return ratios that the sources of their capital ask of them.

Venture capital shouldn’t be thought of as a source of funding for any but a very few exceptional startup businesses. Venture capital can’t afford to invest in startups unless there is a rare combination of product opportunity, market opportunity, and proven management. A venture capital investment has to have a reasonable chance of producing a tenfold increase in business value within three years. It needs to focus on newer products and markets that can reasonably project increasing sales by huge multiples over a short period of time. It needs to work with proven managers who have dealt with successful start-ups in the past.

If you are a potential venture capital investment, you probably know it already. You have management team members who have been through that already. You can convince yourself and a room full of intelligent people, that your company can grow ten times over in three years.

If you have to ask whether your new company is a possible venture capital opportunity, it probably isn’t. People in new growth industries, multimedia communications, biotechnology, or the far reaches of high-technology products, generally know about venture capital and venture capital opportunities.

If you are looking for names and addresses of venture capitalists, start with the internet.

The names and addresses of venture capitalists are also available in a couple of annual directories:

The Western Association of Venture Capitalists publishes an annual directory. This organization includes most of the California venture capitalists based in Menlo Park, CA, which is the headquarters of an amazing percentage of the nation’s venture capital companies.
Pratt’s Guide to Venture Capital Sources is an annual directory available online or in print format.

2. Sort of venture capital: Angels and others

Venture capital is not the only source of investment for start-up businesses or small businesses. Many companies are financed by smaller investors in what is called “private placement.” For example, in some areas there are groups of potential investors who meet occasionally to hear proposals. There are also wealthy individuals who occasionally invest in new companies. In the lore of business start-ups, groups of investors are often referred to as “doctors and dentists,” and individual investors are often called “angels.” Many entrepreneurs turn to friends and family for investment.