What’s in my wallet? Not what you think.
Earlier in the spring, I sat down with a few folks from Capital One. They are part of a team focused on developing new products for small businesses. They wanted to hear my story.
We spent far too much time trudging through the emotional minefield that is my small business narrative – or, how I learned to stop worrying and love cash flow.
I was surprised when they reached back out this summer to see if they could pick my brain some more. Our conversation this go around was largely focused on the types of help I would have valued way back when I started Floricane – if I knew then what I know now.
The list was pretty simple, though it took us a while to unpack it. A couple of items that surfaced for me included:
- Business tools that grew with my business, and business coaching/advice that helped me maximize those tools. An example I gave was a simple budget in Excel that could evolve into a cash flow forecast that could transform over time into a project capacity worksheet. As my business became more complex, it was hard for me to know what tools I needed – much less learn to use them well. Providing business tools that matched the maturity level of my business would be useful.
- A bank that was a partner on the journey. A bank that would provide reasonable access to financing, but not too much. A bank that would hold me accountable, but keep the reins loose. In other words, extend enough credit to be helpful, and give me more latitude on repayment. Help me be smarter than I would be on my own.
I talked about the difference between personal credit and business credit – American Express wouldn’t touch my personal credit with a Taser, but was eager to sign Floricane up for a Platinum Card. But Amex also provides me with some business tools and resources I’ve been able to leverage, and has helped me manage my debt more wisely than I might on my own.
A lot of our discussion was around the tipping point – that moment when a small business stabilizes, moves out of the start-up phase, and starts to consider (and have the capacity for) growth. It’s interesting to think about Floricane as stable, but seven years into this entrepreneur thing and it seems to be making sense.
It’s also interesting to have conversations around ways in which a data-rich organization like Capital One might develop a set of business tools and analysis that most large financial organizations would envy. And that would make smaller businesses like Floricane sit up and take notice.
It’s been interesting to be part of a conversation about ways a very large bank can be useful to a very small business.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider what’s in my wallet.