Hoping for a little divine intervention to save you from your business debts? You're going to have to get in line. A group of Greek nuns recently abandoned their convent and went into hiding after racking up more than $775,000 in debt from a failed knitting venture.
Authorities suspect they have taken refuge at a monastery in central Greece. The police haven't yet been asked to intervene, but they're following the case closely, Reuters reported. The church may help bail them out of their predicament.
May a lightening bolt from the heavens strike me down as I type these words, but I couldn't help but giggle at the thought of 55 habit-clad ladies fleeing into the hills, their knitting needles and yarn trailing behind them.
Of course, to these nuns, this is no laughing matter. They had been supplying several shops, but they kept running deeper into debt and verged on bankruptcy. It's a scenario experienced by too many small business owners who struggle to get their ventures off the ground.
If you're thinking about starting your own business venture, you'll need to devote a lot of thought to strategies that minimize the likelihood that you end up chased out of town by bad debts, praying for help. To do that, think carefully about two aspects of your planning -- your startup costs and your personal finances.
You can anticipate your needs and the potential sources of financial trouble by getting a good handle on your initial business costs. Do this before even hanging up your shingle. The Small Business Administration recommends beginning by identifying all the expenses you'll need to incur during your startup phase. You'll incur some one-time expenses, like incorporation fees or licenses. Some will be ongoing, like utilities, insurance, and production costs. You may have to spend quite a pile of money before your business starts generating income.
While working on this project, make sure to separate your necessities from your optional expenditures. Concentrate at first only on your essential expenses. You can add the optional expenses once your business starts running. That may help minimize your losses should your business fail to thrive.
Once you have a good idea about what you need, you can start looking for financing. Banks may be one place to turn, as may be the Small Business Administration. Your state or local government may also have programs in place to help small businesses get off the ground.
For some people, starting a small business means using personal credit cards or mortgaging the house to get the necessary cash. That may seem reasonable if you only need a computer and a filing cabinet to get your company up and running. If, like the nuns, you need to purchase something like $300,000 in machinery using a bank loan, you're in a much different situation.
That's why, before launching your small business, you need to make sure your personal finances stand in good order. Keep in mind that your small business may not generate much income for months. In the meantime, you'll still have to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. Your spouse may have a regular, salaried job that can cover these expenses. Whether that's true or not, it can be helpful to put off your plans until you've saved enough money to have a cushion just in case it's a long time before your business starts making some money, or you find yourself in too much debt.
You may even want to consider running your business on the side while you keep your regular job, giving yourself some time to transition from the role of an employee to that of an entrepreneur.
So, before that spark of capitalistic genius causes you to quit your job and open your own knitting shop, understand your business and your personal financial needs. It may just prevent your great idea from being drowned by crippling debt.
- Starting a Small Business
- Protecting Your Small Business
- Retirement Planning for Small-Business Owners
Fool contributor Mary Dalrymple welcomes your feedback.