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Main Street Launch: Sufficient Cash Flow can be the Difference between Staying in Business and Closing

#SFSBW2017 asked some of our sponsors to share insights, best practices, and examples of how they help small business owners flourish.

Main Street Launch San Francisco staff picture

Today we hear from Main Street Launch.

What is your Company’s Mission?

Our mission is to create economic opportunity by empowering entrepreneurs with capital, education, and relationships that allow them to flourish, create jobs, and stimulate economic development in low-to-moderate income communities.

How does your organization support and engage the small business community?

Since 1979, Main Street Launch has provided capital, education, and relationships to aspiring and existing small business owners. In the last five years, we have provided 316 companies with over $32 million in loan capital. These companies have created and sustained over 2600 jobs in our communities.

What tools and resources has your organization created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

Main Street Launch provides access to capital to entrepreneurs, helping launch new and existing businesses to the next level. In addition, each client works one-on-one with an experienced loan officer to help ensure the viability of their business plan and goals. After they receive the loan, our doors are always open for one-on-one advising or to connect with resources in our network.

We’re proud to partner with other organizations to ensure that our small business clients have access to the resources they need to be successful. Our partnership with BusinessAdvising.org allows our clients to be paired with a business mentor that helps them to address their current business challenges at no cost to the business. Our partnership with Townsqd allows our clients to privately connect with other neighborhood businesses, collaborate, and develop thriving neighborhoods through this social network platform. Our partnership with Localwise helps our clients connect with the local employee candidates that they need to run their businesses successfully.

What are the trends you see when you think about the small business marketplace, and how will these trends shape the future of small business?

Across the Bay Area, and particularly in San Francisco, rising rent prices are making it more challenging to run a small business and the rising cost of living has made it difficult to find workers to staff that business. These realities have forced small business owners to become more innovative with their products and services. We’ve seen retail businesses adding special events to grow an additional revenue stream, businesses selling online as well as in their storefronts, and offering both formal and informal benefits to attract and retain employees. This type of innovation will continue to be critical for small business owners to thrive in San Francisco.

Can you share one brief story about how your company is helping San Francisco businesses thrive?

Daniel Hernandez knew early on that he would end up starting his own business. As an IT professional, he wanted to continue to learn and grow but faced limitations in a full-time IT support role. Now as a small business owner, Dan works with hundreds of companies and is constantly learning and adapting his business to meet the fluid industry he operates in.

When Dan started Professional Computer Support in 1989, he was doing “break/fix” work and building computers. With the advent of the internet, he shifted to IT consulting, and recently shifted again to managed services. Dan’s adaptability, strategic business development, and hard work has allowed his business to survive and thrive in an ever-changing field.

Now, Professional Computer Support delivers custom service packages that are fully scalable and available for a flat-rate fee, allowing their clients to work without worrying about IT costs they can’t support. They work as a trusted partner with hundreds of clients to help them focus on running their businesses successfully.

When Dan came to Main Street Launch, he was looking for his first small business loan to invest in marketing and administration to build a stronger sales pipeline. Now, Dan is working full time on managing the business, building a sales pipeline, and expanding their marketing work. He is not doing any tech, and even his daughter has to submit a helpdesk ticket. With this growth came more jobs. Professional Computer Support has 11 employees and is looking to hire more as they continue to grow.

When preparing for the lending process, Dan worked with the San Francisco Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “The process was stressful, but having help on the loan package made a big difference,” remembers Dan. “The loan enabled me to shift from being a referral-based business to building a sales pipeline, and we generated over $600,000 in new business and projects this year. We’re on track to double the business over the next 36 months,” he says. Next, Dan is beginning to lend his expertise to others in his industry as a speaker.

More stories on Main Street Launch’s client spotlights.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?

Many small business owners try to “go it alone” or start or grow their business without help. Having a group of trusted advisors who care about your business’ success can be critically important to your business’ survival. Do not be afraid to ask for and accept help and support.

Having sufficient cash flow can be the difference between staying in business and closing. An affordable loan from a responsible lender can help your business survive the lean months and help bolster your operations and revenue by investing in essential inventory, equipment, or additional staff. It is worth the time to learn about different financing options and the cost of capital for each option, even if you don’t think you need financing right now.

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