You don’t need to pay off personal debt before starting a business any more than you need to get married before having a kid. Despite what societal norms and your mom say, reality says otherwise.
I mean, is it better to welcome a kid into a home with parents who’ve vowed in front of their loved ones to be committed to one another until death do they part? I don’t know. My most committed relationship is with a hoodie I’ve had since third grade.
But is it better to start a business when you’ve already achieved a debt-free personal life? Probably. Most Americans have some type of debt, though, so it’s more important to manage your personal debt properly before leaping into a new business venture than it is to completely eliminate it.
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How to manage personal debt before starting a business?
According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans have some type of debt. And the average American has more than $90,000 in debt, in the forms of credit cards, student loans, personal loans, mortgages, and the like.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by personal debt and that’s holding you back from starting a business, know that you’re not alone.
Getting your personal debt under control before starting a business can help the success of your company in the long run. Start by deciding on a debt repayment method (debt snowball, debt avalanche, hybrid) and decide if you should look into a debt consolidation option to help speed up the process and save money on interest.
You also want to avoid taking on any new debt, so create a realistic budget to help stay within your limits.
How can personal debt affect starting a business?
While having personal debt isn’t going to prevent you from getting a business off the ground, it can make the process more challenging.
Carrying too much personal debt can limit what types of business loans you’re eligible for, especially if your existing personal debt has done a number on your credit score. On top of that, your personal debt could be a turn-off for potential partners or individual investors. Your personal debt can also complicate your business finances, and when you’re just getting out of the gate, you probably want to simplify your bookkeeping as much as possible.
Starting a new job is considered among the most stressful life events, up there with moving and getting a divorce (so like, should you get married?). Now make that new job your own business and it stands to reason that the stress levels will be off the charts. Add in the stresses of personal debt on top of that, and you’re bound to develop an anxiety disorder that’ll put you in therapy, which will create even more personal debt. It’s really an inescapable cycle.
The silver lining is that starting a business while paying down your debt can potentially help you build wealth—which you’ll need to help pay for that therapy—if your company is successful.