Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wealthy Criminals, The Busted CEO ETF and Starting a Business Behind Bars

These three showed up in the readers last week.
From Business Memo:

The rise and fall of America's wealthiest crooks
Andy Fastow, the former CFO of Enron, said “I was extremely greedy and lost my moral compass.”...There's more here but they only mention five, one of whom I think got a bum rap. has an interactive map of 15, mainly executive, felons, showing their current addresses. (HT: Infectious Greed for the ETF bit).

Finally, the helpful hints portion of our show. From Fortune Small Business via CNN:

Starting a business from behind bars
Darren Montville, Collins Correctional Facility, Collins, N.Y.
I, along with my father, would like to open a restaurant and catering company. I was wondering if you could give me as much advice as possible about small businesses...

...By Annalyn Censky, Fortune Small Business contributor
Dear Darren: Jobs opportunities can be limited if you’ve served time, so entrepreneurship presents an attractive option for an ex-con...

That said, it’s never too early to start planning, and a penitentiary can be a surprisingly good place for a budding entrepreneur to develop a business strategy, says Rohr. When you’re incarcerated, you have a unique amount of free time to brainstorm ideas.

Choose your industry

Unless you’re resolute about opening a catering business, you might want to consider a different industry for your first endeavor. Food service companies can be expensive to launch, says Hans Becker, a PEP participant who managed a commercial kitchen for three years between stints in prison. You have to invest in a kitchen, a method of transportation, and a large cooler or refrigerator. “It’s a difficult venture; there are a lot of liabilities and rules,” he says. These include strict health and safety regulations, as well food service permits....

Formulate a business strategy

Shortly after he started his company, Becker took the next step and wrote a business plan. You can get ahead of the curve by working on your plan now, says Rohr. But know that it could be difficult. It’s not easy to conduct market research - a necessary component of any business plan - when you’re in prison....

Fund your startup costs

Whether you’re asking for $500 or $50,000, securing startup capital is difficult when you have a criminal record. But don’t give up, says Jenny Boister, senior vice president and SBA manager at the Valley Community Bank in San Jose.

“It’s possible for an ex-con to get a loan,” she says, “but you’ll have to jump through hoops.” In order to obtain an SBA 7(a) loan, you’ll need to fill out a criminal history form and provide details about your conviction, parole and probation. You’ll also have to submit fingerprints. The lender will then forward the application to the SBA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters for approval....MORE