This is a message for future Nico. You and I both know that our memory cortex is a little dysfunctional so whatever challenges you’re facing now, I’m sure you forgot everything about what it was like back on Thursday, May 30th 2013. Well, brother, those are pretty stressful times.
May is coming to an end and you only got another month to get the 160K you need to buy the shop and make it look pretty. Past June 30th the agreement of sale is expired, the shop is back on the market and you, my friend, are back to square one.
So “just get the bloody loan!” you say? “it surely can’t be that hard, people get loans every day!” you say? Well, that’s what I thought too, but when it comes to business loans, things get complicated, really complicated. You talk to a lot of people who don’t really understand what it is you want to do. Even if you spent weeks putting together a 100 pages documents with a lot of photos, graphics, big bold numbers, super solid market research and so on, for them you’re not fitting in any boxes, and that’s a problem. A café serving great coffee and restaurant grade food in a relaxed environment, savory breakfasts, filter coffee… you can literally see the panic in their eyes.
So HSBC is out. The branch manager didn’t like that Sarah didn’t have a cooking school diploma. What do you want to say to that? Maybe we should have invited him over for dinner. The poor girl who presented our project was so embarrassed on the phone when she told me they couldn’t finance us. He also said we were too young… again, I had no words. Finally they said the financial performances of the current business were poor so they didn’t feel comfortable investing in it even though we HEAVILY insisted on the fact that the current owner is a 60 year old worn out dude, opened 15 hours a WEEK, serving an uninspired 11 euros all-you-can-eat buffet in a depressing, poorly lit restaurant. We’re buying 4 walls and a smoke extractor. That’s what we’re buying. Not his concept, not his recipes, not his clientele, nothing. We’re gonna get in there and tear it apart, re-build it fresh and make a clientele of our own. The financial performances of the current business are irrelevant. You understand it, I understand it, but they, for some reason, don’t. That’s why the place is so stupidly cheap! If he was making any kind of money, based on the location and the square footage, it’d be worth 3 times as more! Anyway.
LCL and BNP seem genuinely interested. After providing kilos of pay slips, recommendation letters, blood samples and so forth, our project moved up to the upper floor where they crunch all the numbers and ask the computer if it’s okay to open the safe. One thing I didn’t know about the whole loan process is that you need someone to stand security for your loan. Meaning that not only do you have to show up with a heavy personal contribution but you also have to be able to show that you’ve got 160K worth of personal assets lined up in case you can’t pay them back! We’re 27 goddamnit! How are we supposed to have that much money? I think being able to invest 70K at our age is a pretty solid statement of its own, but obviously, it isn’t.
So not only do you have to convince the bank to loan you 160K but you also have to get a green light from some other dudes to stand security for your loan otherwise the bank, even if they’re willing to finance you, won’t sign you a cheque. And then people wonder why everything is so stuck in France. Here’s why.
So we’re meeting with some lady at the BNP tomorrow who will, or won’t, depending on how well it goes, stand security for our loan. We should also hear back from the LCL by then. Fingers super tightly crossed.
Good thing Sarah is cooking me some delicious food otherwise I’d be on a plane already.