21 Quick Startup Fixes

Cash Conservation

"I need to conserve what little cash I have."

5. Consider bartering. You might find people who need your product or service and, in turn, have a product or service you need. But, Jilk cautions, don't let the process of bartering distract you from your core business purpose.

6. Check with your local university or college for low-cost or free services. Many schools require students to do "real world" projects before they graduate; by enlisting these students, you can get valuable assistance with such tasks as your business plan, marketing, financial strategies, legal issues and more.

7. Purchase used instead of new. Especially when it comes to durable equipment, buying used can save a tremendous amount of cash. Buy quality items from known manufacturers to assure the availability of parts and service.

8. Lease instead of buy. Leasing (or long-term financing) conserves cash while getting you the equipment you need now. Jilk says leasing is particularly common when it comes to high-end office equipment, computers and other technology-based assets.

9. Negotiate liberal payment terms with suppliers. According to Jilk, "Simply pushing out your average payables by five or 10 days--except when it costs you money to do so--can make a significant difference in your cash balance."

"I can't afford full-time employees for every task that needs to be done."

10. Outsourcing is the solution for tasks that are beyond your core business but require a degree of expertise and efficiency. You'll get a greater level of skill and more flexibility than if you try to hire for them. Typical duties to outsource include accounting and bookkeeping functions, payroll, marketing and advertising, and other administrative and professional services.

"I'm not sure I'm meeting all government requirements."

11. Dealing with various government entities can be one of the biggest headaches you'll have as a business owner. Avoid serious problems by finding out what's required before you actually start operating. Check with appropriate local, state and federal agencies for their guidelines--most are set up to provide new businesses with all the necessary information.

"I'm concerned about getting paid if I extend credit to customers."

12. Unless you're in a retail business, it's tough to operate without extending credit these days. Insist that each customer complete a credit application and verify the information he or she provides before you make a credit sale.

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: 21 Quick Startup Fixes.

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