Many years ago (more years ago than I care to remember), when I first started freelancing, I learned one of the most important rules of business finance; “Cash is King!” This is a well-known saying in business highlighting the importance of cash flow in the overall health of a business. For this reason, it's extremely important to be able to purchase business-critical goods and services on credit. You'll realise why this relevant to the story if you read on.
My work at the time was freelance computer support and I provided commercial and residential IT support to small businesses and residents in my local area.
From time-to-time I needed to purchase computer parts, accessories, peripherals, and sometimes actual computers, for my customers because they trusted me and preferred to buy their kit from someone with expert knowledge. This was great! It gave me a huge sense of pride and satisfaction to know that my customers valued my knowledge and experience, and I also made a modest commission on each sale.
Following the “Cash is King” rule, I set up a trade account with a reputable supplier so that I could purchase my supplies on credit and better manage my cash flow. And it all worked out extremely well. Until one day when I logged onto my account to buy something and found that my account had been closed. I was shocked! Why would they close my account!? I didn't owe them any money!
Needless to say, I called my account manager (a young man called Amir) straight away and asked for an explanation. He explained that the company had recently been bought out by a much larger technology supplier and the new company's new policy was to only do business with limited companies. NO SOLE TRADER ACCOUNTS!
I was extremely upset, angry, and disheartened. I was a good customer, my account was up-to-date, and I made regular purchases. Why was I being discriminated against? The whole thing felt gravely unjust. I felt that I was being labelled as:
As I said at the beginning, that was a long time ago. But unfortunately, the passage of time has only given me more experiences like this.
The truth is that the business world has historically imposed a huge number of barriers to entry upon freelancers, one man bands, consultants, small businesses, micro businesses, home businesses, charities, voluntary organisations, and anyone who isn't multilevel organisation with very deep pockets.
I once worked in a multilevel organisation with very deep pockets. One of my colleagues there had this motto;
"We prioritise by revenue!"
In other words, we give the best and most of our time and support to our biggest customers with the highest monthly spend.
As business-practical as this approach seems to be, the human being in me can't help feeling that this is extremely unfair. And this kind of unfairness is one of the biggest reasons why I do what I do, in the way that I do it. I want to give small businesses something that they will not get from a large company whose customers are mostly other large companies. I want to support them in a diligent, personal, fair, and dare I say, caring way.
The rise of low cost, subscription-based software has done a lot to improve this situation of us "little guys". Small businesses now have access to resources like:
This allows us to punch well above our weight in how we operate and market ourselves. But there's still a problem.
These services rely on small businesses to “do it themselves”. But if they lack the expertise “do it themselves”, then the cost of hiring help could present another potential barrier to entry. Again, this is where I aim to help by working with small businesses and sharing my expertise at a price that fits within modest budgets. Here is some of the feedback I've received from the companies I've helped.
If you'd like me to help you too, please feel free to get in touch. Also, this is the perfect opportunity to tell you about my new chat button! It's in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Like it? I got it yesterday. If it's grey then it means that I'm either helping someone else or hiding somewhere with a slice of cake, but you can still click it to leave me a message. If it's green, then I'm free for a chat right now! And I promise, it is actually me, not a robot, a PA, or a young intern, just 100% genuine Riley.
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