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Small business owner starts off on the right foot with cash flow management
Shoeme.ca founder, Sean Clark, shares his tips to manage business cash flow
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Sean Clark credits his wife with giving him the idea for his successful online retail start-up, Shoeme.ca. “The idea was born after being sick and tired of driving down to Blaine, Wash., to pick up shoes for my wife that she had bought online.”

 

The Vancouver-based entrepreneur had seen the growth of online shoe retailers in other countries and realized that there was no equivalent in Canada. Soon after, he left his job and established Shoeme.ca to fill the market void.

 

While Canadians were ready for a home-grown Internet shoe seller that could offer the selection of foreign brands, without the cross-border hassles associated with international ordering, Clark still faced plenty of financial challenges in growing his company.

 

His “boot strap” experience of starting up a cash-starved enterprise has created something of a cash-flow obsession with him, he admits. The Shoeme.ca founder initially relied on cash infusions from friends and family to prove that his business concept was viable. Once he established a foothold for his business, the cash-flow demands evolved along with the company. “Now it is marketing bills, paying suppliers and overhead with 60 employees across Canada with a facility in Toronto and a head office in Vancouver.”

 

A key financial partner for Clark in the launch and expansion of his online venture was working with American Express and using a Charge Card. “It allowed me to put a whole month’s marketing bill on my Amex, and gave me up to 55 days before I actually had to do a cash outlay to pay for it,” he says. “In the early days as a business, that saved me a couple of times.”

 

The Shoeme.ca founder used his monthly spending limit as a way to access cash that he could not obtain from other sources in the early days of his business. It was a strategy that allowed the online retailer to grow faster in its first two years of existence than it could have otherwise. “It paid off because it allowed me as an entrepreneur to make the business grow.”

 

Financial products geared toward business owners can be a huge asset as they offer valuable cash management tools and services that allow business owners to better manage cash flow and payments to key suppliers.

 

“All business expenses, dinners with suppliers and travel, are very easy to track,” says Clark. “My accounting team goes in and gets all the reporting that they need monthly.”

 

Today, Clark puts between $60,000 to $150,000 each month on the Card as a routine part of running his business and he finds it more beneficial than paying with cash. “For us, the points are huge because we can apply travel redemptions for hotels and airline tickets, which are large expenses for a start-up company. But with points, it has allowed us to not spend any cash and get our people to the place that they need to be.”

 

Today, after two years of operation, Shoeme.ca is well-established and has been acquired by a larger company. The growth that they’ve seen is a result of several components, including calculated risks and equipping their business with the right financial partners.

 

A key financial partner for Clark in the launch and expansion of his online venture was working with American Express and using a Charge Card. “It allowed me to put a whole month’s marketing bill on my Amex, and gave me up to 55 days before I actually had to do a cash outlay to pay for it,” he says. “In the early days as a business, that saved me a couple of times.”

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of its individual writer, and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of American Express Canada or Amex Bank of Canada. Third party web sites may have privacy and security policies different from Amex Bank of Canada. Links to other web sites does not imply the endorsement or approval of such web sites.

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