Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cornwall: 'Keep credit cards in your wallet'

Jeff Cornwall, the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, isn't talking-down the importance of borrowing money, when that makes sense. If fact, he told VNC during an interview Friday, he works closely with some of the companies in the portfolio of Southeast Community Capital, on which VNC reports here. But, Cornwall (above right) told VNC that even though lenders' criteria have gotten tougher, entrepreneurs should "keep the credit card in the wallet." He said the tightening of credit and the "real shortage of true seed money" -- with many Angels and VCs moving downstream toward bigger deals -- provides further reinforcement for Cornwall's argument in favor of "bootstrapping." He said that "now that there's not money falling out of trees, most entrepreneurs have to rely on their wit and their craftiness" -- and that "plays right into" bootstrapping. Cornwall said he's passionate about bootstrapping because, "first of's a critical skillset for all entrepreneurs" and those who create businesses need to "understand that this is going to be a major part of their ability to manage the resources they have," going forward, no matter the state of the economy. Bootstrapping, he said, can help avert crushing debt, minimize the need for partners, help companies survive between financing rounds, reduce the drain of personal energy and other resources, and generally help entrepreneurs "find a way to be the most efficient you can with the money that's at your hands." Cornwall's next book -- a textbook bluntly titled, Bootstrapping -- is due out soon from Prentice-Hall. No catchy subhead for Cornwall's book? "One word says it all," said the professor.

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