It wasn’t that long ago – 2010, to be precise – Small Business Saturday entered, stage right, onto the American economic scene. It was on the day after “Black Friday,” the post-Thanksgiving launch to the Christmas shopping season.
As a promotional idea, Small Business Saturday was brilliant. Did you know that its origin was the 3/50 Project, a brainchild of Cinda Baxter of Minneapolis? Until recently, I didn’t either.
Back in March of 2009, Cinda suggested that if half the employed people in the country would pick out three independently owned businesses, and buy $50 worth of goods at each of them every month, that it would generate $42.6 billion in revenue.
I don’t know if those numbers panned out, but the overall idea took off like the proverbial rocket. By 2010, Small Business Saturday had become a post-Thanksgiving fixture. According to Forbes, there are 28 million small businesses in America. They account for 54% of all U.S. sales.
So why shouldn’t Small Business Saturday be a big deal? Even if we didn’t have those numbers from Forbes, we all know, intuitively, that it’s you, the individual entrepreneur, the small business owner, who are the heart and soul of American enterprise. Your sweat and energy produce the goods and services. You – not the government in Washington – create millions of jobs and enable people to make a living.
It’s been that way since America was founded. And with Small Business Saturday, we’ve finally recognized it. Amazing that it took us this long. It was about time.
Since we’re on the topic of “Amazing,” here’s something else that fits: that so many of our small business owners have been weaving their economic magic with a set of outdated tools and technologies in their desks and on their computers. By this I mean, of course, those clunky, last-generation Excel spreadsheets and eye-straining paper ledger books. They might help you keep track of your business’s vital funds, but at what cost in time and in lost opportunities for higher-value work?
Can you imagine how much more you’d accomplish with the very latest financial technology at your fingertips? How about, for starters, 30 extra hours every month?
There’s a rule of thumb in our field that says small business owners spend about 40 hours a month on routine, repetitious financial tasks. Automating those tasks with a modern treasury management system will bring that time down to something like four or five hours. We’re being conservative by estimating that you’ll have 30 more hours per month at your disposal.
There’s no longer a compelling reason to stay wedded to the old ways of keeping track of receipts, disbursements, and available cash. With a modular, cloud-based TMS, you have no big, upfront capital expenditures. You only buy what you need, when you need it, for an affordable and predictable sum each month.
It’s not just the time-savings of automation that you deserve as you run your business. These benefits are real and worth mentioning. They include: streamlining your dealings with your bank; daily, error-free posting of all transactions, which eliminates that frazzling, month-end “crunch time;” centralizing all your disbursements through a single payment hub; and consolidating all of your cash activity into a central reporting tool.
That last item is both an enormous time saver and an indication of something much bigger. It has to do with the information – timely, actionable information on every aspect of your company – that’s available to you, the company’s ultimate decision maker.
A Treasury Management System (TMS) delivers that information to you. It enables you to take quick, decisive action in this hyper-competitive world. You can combine this solid, reliable information with the wisdom you’ve accumulated through years of experience at the helm of your firm. You already do it all – a TMS will help you to do it better and faster.
I’ve been in this business for a long time. I’ve seen the evolution of the treasurer’s job and the treasury management department’s function. I’ve explained, mainly to our large corporations, how treasury management has evolved from the tactical to the strategic.
Nowadays, the terms “Treasury Management,” “Cash Management,” and “Financial Management” are used almost interchangeably. As functions of the business, they overlap and intersect. You could spend a lot of time parsing their distinctive aspects in the company of friends, and maybe you’d even reach an agreement on them.
But when we’re talking of the small business owner, those fine points would be distinctions without differences. You’re already doing all the things they entail: optimizing your company’s liquidity, receiving and disbursing cash, and shepherding the short- and long-term funding for the ultimate benefit of the organization.
In other words, you’re Superman.
And that brings me back to a pithy quote from Cinda Baxter. After Small Business Saturday had caught on, someone asked, “Hey, Cinda, what do you do?”
Her reply: “I hand Superman capes to small business owners, then teach them how to fly.”
As far as TMS vendors are concerned, you small business owners are already airborne, and we thank you and salute you for it. But we’d also like to suggest that we can offer you a better, snazzier cape – a new, state-of-the-art Treasury Management System. There’s no telling how fast, how high, or how far you’d fly.