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October 12, 2006, 11:40 AM
Hi, Gerard - you already know that there are two completely different issues here; helping your sister and setting up business.

I don't know what "declaring bankruptcy" translates into in terms of outstanding debts in your sister's household. A family way to help there MIGHT be to see if there was a way to secure a roof over their heads so that they could concentrate on reducing other indebtedness. But if you were to go that route, I'd make sure there was a legal agreement in place so that you all know the financial obligations 5/10 years from now. If you bought their house and became landlord, giving them an option to buy back at an agreed price in X years, that would be a possibility. But it's a risk for you.

As for going into business, I'm with Michael as far as the reasons for hiring a cleaning company are concerned. Also, my feeling is that a cleaning company should be built from the ground up; if the owners don't understand the logistics and problems encountered cleaning offices/shops/homes, then they're on a hiding to nothing when dealing with employees. Also, it doesn't sound to me as if they're in a position to deal with slow-paying customers and cash-flow issues if you don't invest. If they're looking for quick cash, then they should already be out cleaning houses/windows/gutters - and that way they could be building the foundations of their own business. (Maybe they are already doing this?)

I hope that things work out for them - it's tough fighting your way out of a financial hole.


ps - several years ago, one of my sisters helped me finance my shop; we paid interest monthly and repaid the capital. BUT - it was a business arrangement and we made sure it didn't interfere with our family relationship.


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