Starting Off

Dear Dave,

My husband and I want to open our own franchise health club business. Currently, we have no debt and live in an apartment. We've also got about $70,000 in savings. Is a small business loan the best way to get things started?


Dear Kelly,

No! Never go into debt to open a business. This is especially true in the health club industry. Health clubs and gyms come and go like the wind. Besides, you can easily open one of these businesses without borrowing money or tossing it into a franchise deal.

A gym or health club is really like any other business. Start small, even if it means only a few pieces of equipment and a handful of programs in the beginning. If you go all out and finance dozens of the latest and greatest exercise machines, the debt will be like an anchor around your neck, and it will pull you under. Do you get what I'm saying here? It is absolutely vital that you do not borrow money to make this business happen! Besides, you just told me you guys have $70,000 saved up. There's your seed money for the business! If you don't believe in your business idea enough to put your own money into it, then it's probably not what you should be doing.

I'm not against franchises, Kelly. I'm against people going tens of thousands of dollars into debt to open something that's supposed to be a magic pill. A franchise doesn't guarantee success any more than a rabbit's foot guarantees good luck. To make any business work you've still got to be smart, have a good idea and a head for business, and you still have to work your tail off every day!

- Dave

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