Letters from the FrontlineFebruary 12, 2013 | By: Sean Murray
I’ve worked in the alternative business lending industry for quite a while and I’ve noticed something off about many of the marketing campaigns. Some lenders have gotten so caught up in the funding that they’re losing sight of what it’s like to run a small business. Admit it, we’re all a little rusty even if we were once small business owners ourselves.
I started working as a deli clerk when I was 15 years old and continued to do it part time until my senior year of college when I began waiting tables at a restaurant instead. I could definitely tell you a few things about the daily grind and the epic drama that happens in the back of the house on a Friday night, but it’s been a while since I lived it.
But don’t you own a small business now? Yes, I do. I’ve been a part of two successful Merchant Cash Advance start-ups and I went off on my own full-time near the end of 2011. These days I have vendors, invoices, customers, contractors, accountants, and lawyers to deal with. I have monthly financials to reconcile, servers to monitor, and office rent to pay. But let’s be honest, my experience doesn’t really translate if I’m on the phone with a merchant that just had a waitress quit, a 12-top walk out on the bill, and an oven break, all while a health inspector is doing an unannounced review. Yeah, something about THAT is a little different than my day-to-day routine.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and stop trying to find the algorithm that best calculates FICO scores and monthly cash flow figures and start analyzing small businesses for what they really are. That led us to an interesting idea; Why not have actual merchants spell it out for us? What better way for us to connect with the retailers and service people of the U.S. than to have a two way dialogue right here on MPR?
Starting today, we’re announcing our experimental Small Business Corner, aka The Frontline. A small group of actual retail store owners or managers are going to contribute regularly with stories, tips, and advice about what it’s like for them. I think it will be insightful for us, as well as for the other small business owners that visit our site.
As the alternative business lending industry gets more saturated, shouting from the rooftops that you have “cash available with fast approvals!” isn’t a way to connect with the actual businesses that may benefit from a cash infusion. I’m guessing we’ll learn what does. These contributors are free to write what they want, so there’s no telling what’s in store. We hope you enjoy it.