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By Stefania Aulicino

I knew when I started my business it was to build a significant player in the market. Many entrepreneurs are small business people and their goals are modest. Not me: I started with a big end in mind: to be a valued partner to my clients, attract a team to help me grow to our full potential, be recognized for innovation and performance in our niche rewarded with premium prices for our unique solution, and to channel my passion to deliver solutions in an area where I am uniquely suited to contribute. In short: make a big difference in the world.That was and is my goal, but reality falls a bit short. When we began, everything was on track. We built upon our unique perspective and insights. We attracted our ideal clients and our proprietary solutions began to sell. Word of mouth and trade press followed and sales grow.
Early on we used our limited resources very carefully, balancing innovation and talent investments matched with internal resources. As we attracted more and bigger customers we had to bite the bullet. We started to seek financing to put infrastructure in place to support these larger customers. As an expert in my industry I am very comfortable with analyzing decisions related to product and service, but I was a new-be about finance.
The bank seemed like the conservative thing to do so we selected a relationship. But the bank has not been as I had hoped. The bank was willing to finance a building, or extend credit as a percentage against selected accounts receivable or inventory that met their criteria, but the bank offered no help with what I really needed—growth capital, to fuel tomorrow; the bank offered only working capital based on what I have today.
Now I am getting scared
. If I want to grow and I can’t use debt from the bank that means I have to seek out investors who want equity ownership and control. I feel confronted with a terrible reality: stay small or take on equity partners who expect to have a say in the future I want to build and let others control my destiny. I’d have everything riding; my family’s security would be at risk of decisions I don’t control. What a terrible choice.”
If this is you, do you resonate with these growth stages of your company?
Stage 1.
You do what you love; do most of the work yourself wearing lots of hats. Earn premium prices for innovative, unique solutions, with a small list of current customers and see big demand just around the corner!! Revenue and profits are growing. Despite all kinds of obstacles: limited money; no history as a company to sell prospective customers, at this stage you let business strategy dictate all decisions, with total focus on capturing your best profit-making opportunities.
Stage 1 is passion-driven growth. What is distinctive about your company at this stage is that business strategy dictates finance strategy. Your PRO-active growth is long on passion- but short on money to execute potential.
Stage 2. Your Stage 1 company starts to hire staff, invest in techology and equipment to put infrastructure in place to deliver to a growing list of customers. But now you find yourself taking on any business you can get to pay for this overhead. Outside your area of uniqueness, customers aggressively negotiate, only willing to pay commodity-type prices. Revenue is growing, but profit margins are not! Your innovative leadership and your culture is at risk.
Stage 2 is cash-flow driven growth. At this stage, the you experience limited financing options controlling your choices about which opportunities to pursue. Cash-flow driven growth is about finance strategy dictating business strategy. If stage 2 continues, the rat race intensifies because this Stage 2 business is RE-active. Your revelation is the bigger your potential future, the bigger is this problem. Your growth is cash-flowing but your passion is dying.
Stage 3. This is a critical juncture for the true Business Builder. If Stage 1 is long on passion, but short on cash to execute it; and Stage 2 is about “expensive” cash, expensive because by accepting it you are diluting your passion, then Stage 3 is about having it all: passion and cash that wants you in control. Stage 3 is about determining the right growth strategy first. Only then can you take the second step, creating the right funding strategy for that future.
What is at stake if you don’t do it in this order is your vision: the opportunity to convert your full growth potential into profitable reality. This is your Optimum Growth Strategy (OGS): the only strategy that delivers the highest return with the lowest risk. Only the OGS lets you drive value which you get to monetize in a uniquely entrepreneurial way to get cash on your terms. When you use your OGS, the passion-driven business strategy unique to you, you attract money that wants YOU in control, money attracted to the future only YOU can create!
If you are willing to take back your control at Stage 3, I’ve got the solution. If you are really a Business Builder, you need to tap the currency in your passion, but it’s only accessible if you are pursuing your Optimum Growth Strategy. Business Builders I’ve worked with use their entrepreneurial freedom to pursue their passion to build a more profitable company, faster and safer than they ever thought possible. You can too.

Have you been there at Stages 1 or 2? What do you say about it? I would love to hear from you.

Stefania Aulicino, president of CapitalLinkUSA ensures business owns get cash to keep control of a bigger, more profitable company, faster, safer than they ever thought possible- in any economy. Become a magnet for non equity and equity sources to fuel your growth. Explore our tools, solutions and consulting options tailored for different growth stages and different budgets: