Know When You’ve Succeeded—Or Failed

Success in a small business involves meeting your objectives, especially the one that says you have a positive cash flow by a specific date. Normally it shouldn’t take long to know whether your business will meet your objectives. Many people wait a year or two to see whether the business will succeed. I think that’s a mistake. Instead, figure out how long it should take for your potential customers to hear about your opening and then add a month or two.

In a retail business, that’s usually no more than three to six months, depending on the type of business and how good a promoter you are. Put another way, your sales will probably level out three or four months after you open.

People in service, wholesale, and small manufacturing businesses may expect a longer start-up cycle. For example, a real estate agency normally allows six to 12 months for money to begin coming in. That’s how long it takes to find clients, negotiate deals, and generally get known in the community.

Close the Business and Negotiate With Your Creditors

If you’re losing money every month and don’t think your cash fl ow will improve soon, you can close your doors and make deals with your suppliers and other creditors. You can often negotiate to pay much less than what you owe. You can offer them a small lump sum payment or you can offer to make monthly payments. Either choice can be a good option if you have the money or income to make payments.

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