Twenty years of offering business to business telecom solutions has given me the opportunity to meet and partner with hundreds of Charlotte area start up companies. It is awesome to work with a new business and watch them grow. Many times that growth means hiring new employees, expanding office space, and opening new markets. Growth that is good for the [charlotte new business] owners, the employees, vendors like my business and good for the economy of North Carolina. Occasionally, I will see would be business owners make a fatal mistake. I will call it the "build it and they will come mentality". They spend to much capital and time building infrastructure for the customers they project they will have vs. working to build up the customer base first. I have seen upscale offices, fully staffed with top level employees and equipped with the latest office technology and only one thing is missing, customers!
Ideas I have seen work well for start ups as well as mature businesses:
- Use subcontractors or part time employees when the hiring of full time employees is not justified.
- Form strategic partnerships with other small businesses that sell products or services that compliment yours. Can you cross sell between customer bases? Could you share office space or staff?
- Use independent sales people that are already selling a complimentary product. Nothing will drain capital faster than paying salaries to full time sale people that do not produce as expected.
- Consider hosted telephone system options that can allow your organzation to look and function bigger than you are by allow you to seamlessly spread calls between office, home offices, and cell phones.
- Create a web presense that becomes an information portal for those doing research on your product set. Make sure your website is not just a brochure, but a system for attracting suspects and converting them into prospects.
- Consider collecting receivables via credit card, bank draft, or echeck. Cash flow is king for the small business!
Richard Hill has worked in the telecommunications field for over 20 years, 15 of those as the President and owner of SafeCall, a Charlotte, NC based company offering business telephone systems, VoIP telephone service, carrier consulting, and voice/data cabling