Money on a plate

Entrepreneurial Oxygen: The Cash Cycle and My Business DNA

When you have a small business, it can be difficult to understand your cash cycle and know what to prioritize. Customer satisfaction can be huge in the early days of a business, as can things like company culture, budget, marketing, and hiring.

But there is one thing that always transcends everything else.

And that my friends is cash.

It may sound cynical of me to say, but there is no denying it: cash is what allows you to do everything else. Cash is oxygen. If you don’t understand the importance of cash flow, you’re lost.

You could produce the greatest TV show, or have the most delicious cup of coffee, but if you don’t know how to sell it, you have no cash revenue and you’re out of business. Sales has to be a core part of your business DNA from day one. Without that, nothing else is even important yet.

But sure, to be fair: once you’ve figured out your business cash flow, the priorities become harder to, well, prioritize. What’s next as a small business? One of the things mentioned in the first paragraph?

Actually, there is no second.

While the cash cycle is first, the second priority becomes more difficult to pin down. But I have some ideas of how you can figure it out for yourself.

Know Your Strength and Your Business DNA

First, figure out what you are strongest at. Design? Growth hacking? Nail down your biggest strength. Then, go hard on that. Your best skills will be your business DNA, develop and cultivate that as part of your company.

For just a bit, don’t be crippled by what other things could be going on. Drill down on the one or two biggest things your company is successful at, and push that even further.

For example, I was really good at growing top line revenue for my businesses in the early days. I did it for Wine Library, and I did it for VaynerMedia. Both those businesses are predicated on the fact that I decided to focus on that. Later on, I worked on driving profit back up. But some people are excelling at financial engineering. Or amazing designers.

This moment in the business, the decision of what to focus on next, is crucial not only because it helps you grow, but also because it could be what allows you to bring in more key players. Think back to the start of the business. Maybe someone was so overwhelmingly talented at one thing, but they couldn’t sell or build a business. This next step could be the time to bring in that skill they had again.

Prioritize based on strengths. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: bet on your strengths. It’s an underrated business strategy in a world obsessed with improvement, but it could mean the difference between a business surviving and a business failing.

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