Startup Life: Who Gets Paid First?

By Z. Kelly Queijo

What does a first-time entrepreneur know about running a startup business?

For many of us the answer is “not much.” But I was a fortunate startup founder because I had access to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs with whom I met regularly through my association with VT KnowledgeWorks.

The CEOs, founders, and presidents I met with never hesitated to share tips on how to run a business. Their advice was rich and backed by years of that life-in-the-trenches-know-how.

Pay your subcontractors first.One of my favorite tips came from Henry Bass, founder of Automation Creations, a software development firm founded in Blacksburg, Va. in 1996.  Henry’s startup tip was this: Pay your subcontractors first.

As I processed his words, I quickly understood the value of this sage advice. My subcontractors were not much different from me – cash flow was always a challenge and my subs were independent operators also working on shoe-string budgets, much like my own startup. They needed to be paid first and by doing so, I was also ensuring work could continue on my current projects as well as future projects.

Henry was definitely right about this. It was one of those “Aha!” moments that I value and continue to reflect on…usually around the first of each month.

Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., won the Open Business Concept Competition at the 2010 VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Summit.

Smart College Visit and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 

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