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Outside the box Featured

7:22am EDT June 29, 2005

Creativity and outside-the-box thinking are key assets for any entrepreneur. Combined with a little business savvy, they can save a business on the verge of collapse. Take, for example, Stella Moga and Le Chaperon Rouge.

Moga, a Romanian immigrant, began her first Le Chaperon Rouge daycare center in a church basement with just three children. Nine months later, she had 89 enrolled in her program, and a long waiting list. But when she tried to expand her business, she ran into problems.

Rent on any building large enough to house her budding business was expensive. Knowing that if she raised her fees, her center might become unaffordable to some clients, Moga decided to buy a place instead. She found the perfect building, met with the owner and proudly presented a $5,000 down payment. However, the owner wanted $50,000.

The obvious solution was to take out a loan, but no bank would give Moga one. She had few assets, little savings and only a year of business experience.

Never one to be deterred, Moga struck a deal with the building's owner. She would give him her $5,000 and pay a monthly rent for a year. If, at the end of the year, she didn't have the $50,000 down payment, she would give the owner everything she had saved and shut down the business. And if she had the money, the building was hers.

On the morning of Dec. 31, the day before her down payment was due, Moga found herself $7,000 short of her goal. So she struck another deal, this time with her clients - anyone who paid for two or more weeks in advance would receive a 20 percent discount. By the end of the day, Moga had the full down payment, and the building was hers.

Without her creative dealings, Moga would never have become the successful entrepreneur she is today.

How to reach: www.lechaperonrouge.com