I recently bumped into a venture capitalist (yes, in the flesh) who asked me briefly about my business life and ended with a wave of his hand and a sincere look: ”It wasn’t about the money, was it Owen?”
I was gobsmacked.
What is he talking about? It was and is so much about the money. Money ruled my entire business life. It is the language that describes and defines business. There must be more coming in than going out (ok, Amazon et al didn’t for years -- thanks to deep pocketed VCs -- but not so the rest of us).
You live in terror of not being able to pay the creditors each month. You beat a humble path to your banker’s door. You battle with profit margins, which, of course, dictate whether your product is right for the market or not.
The customers beat you up around money all the time.
What price will they will pay? What credit terms you will give them? And then -- in the real world -- you watch for when they will actually pay you. Bouncing cheques were a regular feature of my business in the early days, something the latest batch of entrepreneurs know nothing about.
Then, we have the suppliers.
Your suppliers are playing a different game, and often screw you for cash in the early days. This is before they have built up confidence in you and we let the credit line out bit by bit for you. For you?? You have a huge interest rate to pay them -- but they are "helping" you out.
I started with my main supplier and had to pay them cash in advance. Gratefully, after five years I had a 120 day credit line. This credit line, in effect, bankrolled my business development (they knew what they were doing, I was developing a market for them).
Cash-flow can keep you awake at night, and that’s all about money too. It takes years to understand that cash-flow is a different animal altogether to profit and loss Yes the profit and loss is also about money -- but feels a lot different. Ok, you are selling plenty of product, but, where’s the money? Rapid growth can break your business -- unless the cash is coming in up front. Your own product or business cash isn’t always on the same schedule with each other.
Your staff is living on a wage.
You can be very sure that their happiness, attitude and intensity of commitment to your cause depends heavily on the money they are being paid. Some employees have their eyes on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -- watching for the "if or when" the company may go public or be sold.
So your pension and your old age are very dependent on money. What lifestyle you will have and more importantly, what healthcare you can afford is ALL tied to your amount of money.
You know your customers care about money -- especially theirs.
And finally, your customer is very interested in money, and in particular what the price is and in the value they will be receiving for the price they have paid.
Nothing can be accomplished in business -- without a definite value placed on that product or service that is recognized by those who will purchase the said item.
There is nothing in business that doesn’t revolve around money. So, Mr VC in answer to your comment: