Guest Op-Ed: Financial Suicide Is Not Necessary

Dr. Glenn Mollette 

There is some risk to all of life.

A friend and his wife had a house paid for and a substantial savings account. At the age of 65 he was retired and bored and bemoaned he had never been a business owner. He was aware of a family who had recently closed a business so he offered to buy it from them and even employed a family member to run it. He knew nothing about the business but was confident all would be well. The cost of the investment, his lack of understanding the business and the monthly outgo spelled disaster. Within two years he had lost his house and his entire retirement savings trying to make his dream business endeavor sustainable. 

Another acquaintance had worked hard at an auto plant for twelve years but retired and took his $150,000 retirement savings and sunk it into a restaurant endeavor. He had never run a restaurant before and within one year the restaurant had failed. His money was gone and he had a sizable debt. 

Another acquaintance retired and wanted something to do. He got into a cookie business that lasted three months. He spent $30,000 a month for three months in a cookie franchise before he was able to get out of the venture. 

Neither of the prior persons had any prior business ownership experience. 

Life is filled with lessons. Education is often very expensive. You must decide if you are still young enough or too old to take on such a business venture. This is especially true if you could end up losing all your investment and further financially obligating yourself.

If you want or need something to do, then get into something that you can afford and know something about. Being informed and applying as much research to any endeavor is crucial. If you can afford a large franchise fee, other investment costs and you can make the business successful, then by all means enjoy your endeavor. If you are risking being homeless then you should probably reconsider. 

Years ago, an old friend was almost financially broke at 50. He had worked in various restaurants with others but had little to show for his efforts.  He rented an old hamburger restaurant that had been closed and his rent and overhead were cheap.  He went to work making the best hamburger in town. For 16 years his burger business netted him an annual salary of over $300,000. He retired well. 

Sometimes we simply need to be content with what we have. If you need to work, consider what you know, what you have and how you can make it work for you. It could require a minimal amount of advertising. Or, it might simply require letting acquaintances know what kind of work you are doing and building your business by word of mouth. You may be able to use space or land that is sitting dormant and can be rented or bought reasonably.  

Life’s pursuits can be, and should be, approached with reasonable caution. Financial suicide is not necessary.

Glenn Mollette is the publisher of Newburgh Press, Liberty Torch and various other publishing imprints; a national columnist –  American Issues and Common Sense opinions, analysis, stories and features appear each week In over 500 newspapers, websites and blogs across the United States.

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