I really loved the media players because of my natural interest for gadgets and other IT related products. Soon I realized it was a cash flow game. Normal payment conditions in retail are from 60-90 days but most of them were paying after 120 days. But because of the popularity of this new category I was sold out within a couple of weeks. But because of the popularity of this new category I was sold out within a couple of weeks.I was not able to finance new purchases with the profit of earlier deliveries because still waiting for the money. So that was the moment for me to start lending money from others to keep the stock rotation going. As a starter I did not realize that although my customers ordered again and again, my outstanding invoices were increasing. The lack of a good system or good advise didn’t gave me the insights I needed to red flag certain orders and deliveries.
Just a regular accountant
I was mainly doing my order administration, invoicing and stock management with Excel sheets. Once a month I send all my invoices and bank statements to the accountant and he was just doing his thing. Provided me with reports I was not able to read or to interpret so I was purely guiding myself based on my chaotic collection of Excel sheets. No additional advise, no suggestions or recommendations to collaborate in another way were coming from my accountant. By the time I realized my accounts receivable were at such a high level I was forced to stop deliveries to my biggest customer. By the time I realized my accounts receivable were at such a high level I was forced to stop deliveries to my biggest customer.They first had to pay. That was the beginning of the end. They stopped all payments and forced me to go to the court to get my money. After two years I won the case in court and got the money but meanwhile because of the damage caused there was no way back and went bankrupt.
Turning back time
Quite a sad story but I always believe that things happen for a certain reason. Six years later I have one of the most beautiful jobs in the world also because of this intense experience. But sometimes I think, if I could turn back time with the experience and insights I have today, what would I do differently? The products were great, having these is mandatory to create a fundament for success. The way I was organised was dramatic. Excel sheets and Word invoices, lots of paperwork going vice versa to the accountant and myself. Imagine that I had a system in place where many things were automated, 24×7 accessible through laptops, smartphones and tablets, how would that have effected my business?
Business software in the cloud
I am 100% sure that if I had organized myself in the cloud, collaborating with my suppliers, customers and accountant online this would have made a big big difference. Real time insights about the status of your business. Flexibility and expand capacity and functionalities in a pay per use construction, all in the cloud. Cost effective, no worries about technical infrastructure and fully engaged with the business. The systems I needed at that moment probably would have cost me ten thousands of euro’s to control my business.The systems I needed at that moment probably would have cost me ten thousands of euro’s to control my business. You had to be a big company to implement those systems. Today the world has completely changed. You start with a subscription for your accounting and/or wholesale & distribution company, pay per use. If you don’t like it you just cancel. Only for a relatively very small monthly fee. Having apps which can easily expand functionality to get additional stuff, for free or for very small amounts. Automated bankfeeds for your bank statements and VAT filings and payments 100% digital. That would have been awesome.
Small beats big
So for me the cloud stands for making your ambitions coming true. Being able as a small company to be disruptive in an industry and beat the big guys. The cloud is organic, adopts easily to changing playing fields and situations. Has a level of transparency and accessibility so you control your business 24×7 no matter where you are. No black boxes but control, no worries but a state of calmness toyou manage your business. If I had to do it all over again I would fully embrace the cloud, hire a SME focussed accountant to set-up a business framework that I was able to understand and control. With a set of KPIs that matters to me. And that’s what happens today. Who are the boys and girls that are disruptive in many industries? Who are the entrepreneurs who accelerate business that would normally take years? Who created an app for taking pictures with nice filters and sold it in 2 years for USD 2 billion to Facebook? Yes, the small ones. This is the new world, this is the new #weconomy where you work together and share via the cloud. This is the new world where anyone can make his dream really come true.