Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Whether you’re the business owner or the investor, a lot of money can be made from start companies also known as “startups”. The truth however is that these ventures in all likelihood won’t started generating significant cashflow early on. The following contributed post is entitled, The Raw Truth: Making Big Bucks From Startups Takes Time.
* * *
A few companies start generating profit immediately. But almost always, the most financially rewarding enterprises make practically nothing for the first five years of operation. There’s a long ramp between setting up the firm and actually getting a return for all that hard work.
Take Square, for instance, a company heavily involved in payment systems. The firm, operated by Jack Dorsey of Twitter fame, was lambasted by investors in 2013 for failing to make any money. That year it lost nearly $100 million after taxes and depreciation, and many thought it would fail. Furthermore, the company had already been operational for four years, meaning that such losses were even more difficult to bear. Investors wanted to see a return, but they weren’t getting it.
Just a couple of years later, though, all the doom and gloom disappeared. The company turned things around. And now, it is part of practically every investor’s stock portfolio. You can’t afford to leave it out.
What happened? Essentially, Square spent the first five years of its existence looking for long-term profit opportunities. It didn’t try to satisfy investors by the quarter. Instead, it made decisions that were costly but would set it up for market dominance in the future. These bold decisions then attracted more investors who kept the enterprise afloat until it started making money.
It’s not the only example, either.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. The company increased its sales to around $150 million by 1997 and over a billion in 1999. Unfortunately, it wasn’t making any money over this period. In 2000, the company borrowed billions from investors but had less than $350 million in cash on hand at one point.
It took the firm until 2003 to turn a profit, but it was a weak result. Many people believed that Amazon would never make any serious money.
Bezos, however, had a plan. He decided to invest all additional revenue into the firm to develop its technologies and systems. Eventually, it became the market leader, able to do things other eCommerce brands couldn’t. Ultimately, it came to dominate the market, even managing to beat out rivals like eBay.
Something similar is happening with Tesla motors. The company began in 2003 and yet it didn’t manage to turn its first profit until 2013. After that, it continued to make losses, only making serious money towards the tail end of 2019. That’s a long time to wait!
According to fintech industry experts, something similar is happening in their sector. The InsurTech Accelerator, for instance, provides security for firms with a long ramp. The hope is that the sector will see success stories similar to those of Amazon and Tesla.
Making big bucks, therefore, takes a long time. When you reinvest profits in a firm, you’re essentially compounding your advantage (as you might with a stock portfolio). The longer you leave it to take money out of the company, the more it’ll eventually make (so long as you make smart business decisions).