In the fall of 2019, the Pacific Marine Expo, in partnership with National Fisherman, released the successful e-book, “The 10 Steps from Deckhand to Boat Owner,” which outlined the necessary steps anyone starting from scratch would have to take in order to purchase a first vessel and start up a new commercial fishing business. In straightforward fashion, the text walks you through the people you’ll need to talk to and the investments you’ll need to make before your dream becomes reality.
But, at some point, everything boils down to cold, hard cash.
For that reason we have created a brand-new budgeting tool as a companion to the e-book. In similarly straightforward fashion, the tool walks you through the items on which you’ll need to spend to buy your vessel and start your business, as well as the costs you’ll incur in year one of your operation.
Finally, at the bottom of the tool, you’ll have a few simple numbers you can use as a north star toward your goal:
- How much you’ll need in cash on hand before purchasing your boat.
- How much you’ll need to put away each month until you’ve realized your cash-on-hand goal.
- A rough estimate of your annual operating costs.
- A rough estimate of the amount you’ll need to land in order to “break even” — i.e., not go further into debt.
Everything above that break even number will go into your pocket as personal earnings (minus whatever the taxman takes).
Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Each fishery has different costs associated with it and no tool can account for all of those variations. Similarly, no two vessels will be outfitted in the same way. You’ll need to do a fair amount of investigation in order fill in all of the totals correctly. As you do more research, you’ll refine your estimates and get closer and closer to “real” numbers.
Further, the tool makes a number of assumptions:
- You’ll want to have six months, or a full season, of operating expenses on hand after you’ve made your down payment. This is the general recommendation from the money people.
- You will roll the costs of initial permit purchase and a year’s worth of gear into the initial loan.
- You will have at least one crew member.
- You get your loan at a 5% interest rate with a payback of 10 years.
Obviously, as you make decisions about your business, some of these assumptions will need to be tweaked to fit your own personal model. But, hey, it’s a free tool and it’s wide open for your to play with the formulas and make new assumptions as you do your business planning.