Women and Money

Women and the Media, Revisited.

Miss Represention LogoLast week, I attended a screening of Jennifer Seibel Newsom’s new film, Miss Representation. It was a fun night out with the girls on a beautiful summer evening, but the movie’s content wasn’t uplifting, nor was it meant to be. The film documents the role of media in today’s society and how it marginalizes women through its pervasive emphasis on sex and violence  and its tendency to air content that is disrespectful to our women leaders.

Unfortunately, this “stuff” sells. The media is trying to capture as many eye-balls (and ears) as possible to maximize profits and the more provocative the content, the better. Some of the worst offenders are the most visible – talk show hosts or political analysts who get away with name- calling and worse, especially during political campaigns. The film has some clips of the likes of  Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh spouting some nasty commentary in regards to women candidates. Who can forget the Hilary bashing during the 2008 campaign with much airtime about the tone of her voice, her hair and attire?

Imagine the impact on the younger generation in the U.S. who are continually exposed to these viewpoints? My friends and I, who are past the bloom of youth, reacted to the film similarly at first – so, what else is new? But we realized after some discussion that this documentary is an excellent wake-up call that all-is-not-as-it-should-be and that perhaps we should get over our complacency and be part of the solution.

After all, women have power. They make over 80% of consumer purchases in the U.S. – from soap to cars to houses. Women also control a lot of private wealth – $14 trillion at last count (out of approximately $55 trillion). Women make up 51% of the U.S. population. In contrast, within our most powerful institutions – media, government and business – female representation is shockingly low. Only 3% of women hold clout positions in the mainstream media, only 17% of seats in the House of Representatives and merely 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs.

How can women use their buying power and majority to help more women get promoted, elected and recognized? Wouldn’t it be great if instead of the explosive growth in cosmetic surgical procedures performed each year on American girls (more than tripled between 1997 and 2007) there was this kind of growth in the number of women in our legislative bodies? Wouldn’t our dollars be better spend on education instead of liposuction?

Becoming a conscientious consumer is one way to stimulate change. Some ideas:

  • Buy products that support, instead of offend, your values.
  • Select media (movies, television, games,magazines,books) that portray positive messages about gender.
  • Support men and women political leaders with your vote and/or dollars who fight for the ideals you believe in.
  • Go see Miss Representation! Bring the children and men in your life.
  • Take the Miss Representation pledge.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”   Alice Walker

Related Links:
Blog post from Sally Around the Bay: “Money Honey
Blog post from Small Change: when deju vu draws the same blank
Blog post from Tam Holland: The Week of Representing

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Book Review: Small Business Taxes Made Easy, 2nd edition, by Eva Rosenberg.

Small Business Taxes Made Easy book cover As a financial advisor, I’ve read my share of tax books. So, I poured myself a strong cup of coffee, made sure I wasn’t too comfortable and opened Small Business Taxes Made Easy by Eva Rosenberg. After reading the first few pages, I realized that this tax book was different. First of all, I enjoyed Eva Rosenberg’s voice. She is friendly, knowledgeable, and savvy. She has obviously worked with many small business owners and understands us. You feel like she really cares about your business – No wonder she is referred to as the “TaxMama.”

But it’s not only her unique voice. The book is organized in a very logical and helpful way. Each chapter, beginning with Chapter 1: The Small Business Checklist, has a To-Do List and Questionnaire to review before you read the chapter. At the end of each chapter is a complete list of resources to make it easy to get even more information and do research on the topic at hand. If you are short on time, you could get a lot of information by just reading these two sections. However, it would benefit you to read through the chapters. Rosenberg is a tax expert and there are many gems of tax wisdom contained in the chapters where you will find yourself thinking, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” or, “Great idea, I think I will incorporate that tax strategy into my business.” It’s a workbook, so get out a pen and take notes where needed!

The book is really a small business bible, not just a tax book. The chapter titles tell the story: Business Plans You Know and Trust; Entities; Record Keeping; Income; Common Deductions; Office in Home; Vehicles: Everyone’s Favorite Deduction; Employees and Independent Contractors; Owner’s Fringe Benefits, Retirement, and Tax Deferment; (the dreaded) Estimated Payments; Online Businesses; and Audits. Ms. Rosenberg really wants you to set up your business right, from the start, for growth and profit! And we all know that taxes play a big part in the outcome.

You can download worksheets from www.YourBusinessBible.com that will help you stay on track as you complete the tasks in the book. She provides a different password to the site each month that you can only retrieve by owning the book. Clever!

I plan to keep this book nearby as a reference for those questions I often get from my business-owner clients. And if you are a business-owner yourself – whether you’re just starting out or not –  This book is a must-read.

Please note: This book was provided to me free of cost by McGraw-Hill. Even so, this is an honest, objective review of the book!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Women and Money: Women Have Unique Financial Planning Needs

Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane
Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane
Carol Moretti (seated) and Lisa Deane

In my living room sat an architect, a CPA, a healthcare executive, a innovation consultant, a marketing and branding expert, a retired attorney, a writer for the Huffington Post, a clutter coach, an interior designer, a home staging specialist, a jewelry designer, a technical writer, and a newspaper columnist. We were joined by an IT manager, a freelance interactive producer, an owner of a cooking-party company, an owner of a company specializing in culinary health education for kids, a development director, a yoga instructor, a marketing consultant, a personal fashion stylist, a trade marketing manager and a business student. All women. All interesting and accomplished.

Women are as diverse as any other group of people in their career choices and in their lifestyles. But women also share distinct attributes: They are great communicators, relationship builders and nurturers. They also share unique financial planning needs. For example, many women are concerned that they will be old and poor and alone. Look at these facts:

  • Eighty percent of American women will find themselves the sole keepers of their personal finances at some point during their lives, However, most of those women feel financially insecure, despite controlling more wealth, having more education and being more involved in financial decisions.
  • Women still make less than men make in similar occupations.
  • Women’s careers are often interrupted by family needs, such as childcare and eldercare, which limits their opportunity for income and retirement savings growth.
  • Many women fear losing everything and becoming bag ladies (and it doesn’t seem to matter how much money they have or make).
  • Two-thirds of women over age 65 rely on Social Security as their primary source of income. Consequently, women are twice as likely as men to live out their golden years at or below poverty levels.

In my living room, we nibbled bites of grilled salmon covered in sesame seeds, ginger chicken, and artichoke frittata while sipping champagne cocktails. Everyone listened attentively to presentations on serious topics such as the 2010 tax relief act and the new healthcare law, but also to fun topics such as the top ten wardrobe essentials and how to save money on your wardrobe. In between speakers, we women did what we are great at: connected, made new friends and perhaps got a business lead or two.

About Cathy Curtis
Cathy Curtis, the writer of this blog and owner of Curtis Financial Planning, specializes in the finances of women, their families and their businesses. You can find out more about her on her website
www.curtisfinancialplanning.com and follow her on Twitter @cathycurtis, on Facebook Women and Money and on LinkedIn Women and Money.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Girls Gotta Do Business

photo: Alison Covarrubias,Julie Abrams,Cathy Curtis,Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa
Alison Covarrubias,Julie Abrams,Cathy Curtis,Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa

It was my pleasure to moderate a panel of women who have made it part of their life’s work to help and support women entrepreneurs. Julie Abrams as CEO of Women’s Initiative; Alison Covarrubias as Co-Founder of The Hatch Network; Baat Enosh of  NCWIT and Women 2.0 and Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa as a Director of Savor the Success.

We started our discussion by exploring the popular notion that women will “rule the world” and that the economic recovery will be largely led by females. We went on to discuss the challenges women face securing funding for their companies, the conflicts inherent to being a parent and running a company, and the unique circumstances that women of color face on their road to successful entrepreneurship.

The panelists agreed that a gender war wouldn’t do anyone any good, but that bias still exists. Until influential men become more balanced and realistic in their opinions about women’s abilities, change will be slow – particularly in the area of venture capital funding. The fact that so few women are partners at venture capital firms is a roadblock,  as people tend to invest in people they are most comfortable with and more women V.C.’s invest in women owned businesses.

On the positive side, studies indicate that women-owned businesses are run more efficiently, achieve a higher return and are focused on more than just the bottom line  – usually with an additional mission benefiting the greater good in some way. The current recession may be the catalyst that women need to be recognized as leaders with unique qualities that are necessary to gain an edge in our increasingly competitive and global world.

You can view the entire discussion on a series of youtube videos, here are the links.

Opening Comments and Introductions of Julie Abrams and Alison Covarrubias

Introductions of Baat Enosh and Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa

Women Will Rule the World?

Funding Your Business

Can Women Do It All?

Final Words of Wisdom

Please comment and share your views!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Events: The Ascent of Women Series at the Commonwealth Club of California

The Ascent of WomanThe Commonwealth Club is the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum, established in 1903. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Club hosts speeches, debates, and discussions on topics of regional, national and international interest. Some of the world’s most interesting people have appeared before the Commonwealth Club in its 107 year history.

Currently, the Club (in addition to its regular programming) is hosting a series entitled The Ascent of Women which will explore the lives of women today.  There are 30 programs planned beginning on July 30 and extending through the end of August 2010. Many of these programs will be of interest to Of Independent Means readers so be sure and explore the list.

I will be moderating two of the programs which I will highlight here:

On Friday, July 30, Outliers and Outperformers: Women in Fund Management – this event will be a  panel discussion and will focus on the role of women in the fund industry today and how more women can reach the level of fund manager.

The panelists are:

Mellody Hobson, President, Ariel Investments
Ivka Kalus-Bysticky, Portfolio Manager,The Pax World International Fund
Luz Padilla, Head of Emerging Markets Fixed Income, Doubleline
Mary Ellen Stanek, Managing Director, Chief Investment Officer, Robert W. Baird & Co.
Cathy Curtis, Investment Advisor, Curtis Financial Planning – Moderator

If you would like to attend, you can click here to reserve

On, Tuesday, August 3:  Girls Gotta Do Business-The Rising Force of Women Entrepreneurs. This panel discussion will focus on the exponential growth of women-owned businesses, some of the struggles women face as they grow their businesses and how more women can succeed as business owners.

The panelists are:

Alison Covarrubias, Co-founder, The Hatch Network, SF
Baat EnoshEntrepreneur Alliance Program Director, NCWIT; VP of Operations, Women 2.0
Ayesha Mathews-Wadhwa, Director, Savor the Success, SF Bay Area
Julie Abrams, CEO, Women’s Initiative for Self Employment
Cathy Curtis, Financial Advisor, Curtis Financial Planning – Moderator

To reserve for this program click here.

Check back as I will be blogging about both discussions!

Hope to see you there.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Women And Money: Primp Your LinkedIn Profile

Manage the Brand That is You.

Kim Kochaver
Kim Kochaver
Last night, I hosted a LinkedIn workshop at my home for members of the Hatch Network a modern business school for entrepreneurial women. Our guest speaker was Kim Kochaver, a Trade Marketing Manager for LinkedIn.

Kim gave a fast-paced, gem-filled presentation on how to nurture your LinkedIn profile, build your network and then leverage it. Because many of the women in the room were LinkedIn neophytes, we spent most of the time on primping profiles, which is what I will share with you in this post.

Why should LinkedIn be important to you?
Because 60 million other professionals are using it. It is THE social media site for business networking. And most importantly, (as Kim stated so effectively last night) it is a growing phenomenon that our career or business success depends on managing our own personal brand. LinkedIn gives you an excellent platform to do just this.

Start managing your personal brand with an optimized profile.
Above all, Linked in is a site meant for doing business and making professional connections. The profile layout is straightforward and simple with fields to let people know who you are, what you do, your professional  memberships and interests. The following are a  few tips to help you set up an effective, professional profile (click on “settings” in the upper right corner of the your LinkedIn homepage to start editing). Definitely post a picture of yourself.

Choose a head-shot style picture. This is not the place for a picture of you on a beach in Mexico. If you can afford it, hire a professional to take a head shot. You can use it many other places.

Write a summary that is brief and interesting. Write it in paragraph form, not bulleted like a resume. Cutting and pasting your resume is probably not a good idea – do you find resumes interesting reading material? Highlight your specialties… Choose the experience or personal qualities that most represent your brand. If you don’t like to write about yourself, enlist the help of a professional writer/editor to help you.

Choose a custom Public Profile URL.  Kim recommends using your name since your employer or business could change. You will always be you. For example, my URL is http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathycurtis

Choose custom names for your websites by ignoring the default “my website”, “my blog” and choose “other.” By choosing other you can name your links whatever you like. Another great tip: rotate your links and websites depending on what you want your contacts to know about you. For example, Kim has a website link called Get LinkedIn’s Audience Stats and Follow Kim on Twitter.

Edit your Public Profile. The default public profile is too basic. At least include your picture, headline, summary, specialties, websites and interests. If you peak a viewer’s interest the more likely it is they will go on to read your full profile increasing your chances for a connection.

Use the Network Updates box to promote yourself and your business. Some ideas for effectively using this feature: post new blogs you have written; post event info, let your contacts know about special projects you are working on related to your business or job, if you are openly job hunting, let people know here. Network updates is a great tool to remind your network of what you are up to on a regular basis.

Take Advantage of LinkedIn Applications
LinkedIn has added several applications and there are more to come. Here are a few that are easy and fun to use and further the goal of building your personal brand:

Reading List by Amazon:   You are what you read?  Let your contacts know more about you by what you read. You can post your reading list and write recommendations for books you like.

My Travel by TripIt, Inc:  Fill in details of your upcoming trips. The application then let’s you know who lives or works in that area or if one of your connections is travelling there too. Think about the opportunities to meet business contacts while on the road?  Or solicit helpful comments about places you are going?

WordPress: This automatically syncs your wordpress blog posts with your LinkedIn profile. Expand your readership and contact list.

Tweets: Integrates your twitter account with LinkedIn and allows you to choose tweets for posting on LinkedIn.

SlideShare Presentations:  If you are particularly proud of a presentation you have created, you can now share with your connections. This is an effective way to highlight your particular knowledge or expertise and show off your slide-making skills. Think about the opportunities for connections with potential clients or employers!

Once you get your profile primped up to perfection, you can step up your network building activities and then start to leverage your network. In closing last night, Kim challenged us all to log-on to LinkedIn and spend a couple of hours carefully going through every section under “settings’:  Profile settings, email notifications, home page settings, RSS settings, groups, personal info, privacy settings and my network. There are many important choices within these sections that you won’t want to miss.

I’ve primped my profile, have you?

Primp your LinkedIn Profile:  Your Brand is Depending on You.

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

The Happiness SpreadsheetIf you want to think differently about the relationship between your spending, your values and your happiness, then sign up to get your FREE copy of The Happiness Spreadsheet.

Like this post?

If you found this blog post useful or inspirational, please share it on your favorite social media network!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

A Savvy Young Woman Charts a Brave Course

As a financial planner, a lot of my work for clients is centered around careful and strategic planning. I help people gain a clear perspective on where they are right now. I work to understand where they want to go in the short term (“We want to go to Paris next year.”) and in the long term (“We want to retire comfortably in Napa Valley.”). Of course, there are many variables to any financial planning effort – there’s budgeting, saving for a college fund, buying a house, putting money away for a vacation home, etc.

As part of our work, financial planners must take into account our clients tolerance for risk. Personal financial goals, risk tolerance and, a clients age, will be among some the factors that shape any plan. Along the way, a financial plan has to be reviewed and tweaked to accommodate changing conditions — as in the economic meltdown in 2008. Good, sound financial advice – whether to stay the course or to make adjustments are key to long term success.

In financial planning, as in life, some of the best laid plans have to have some built-in flexibility to meet conditions on the ground. Or, as our story will show, on the sea.

Meet Jessica Watson – Sailor, Savvy Planner, Risk Taker

Jessica Watson - Youngest Around the World Solo Sailor
Jessica Watson - Youngest Around the World Solo Sailor

When we talk about planning, tolerance for risk, adjusting to changing conditions, sheer courage, and staying the course, we could hardly find a more inspirational example than Jessica Watson, a savvy young woman from Buderim, Australia.

Jessica, at this very moment, is sailing around the world. She is alone, on a solo voyage. Her pink sailboat is named Ella’s Pink Lady.  She is well over 5,000 miles into her epic journey and is about to sail straight into the fearsome Southern Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope.

Jessica is sixteen years old.

If she is successful, she will be the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo, unassisted. On her website, she lists her philosophy – “Always make the best of everything. Stay positive, ask questions, lots of questions.”

Not a bad approach for someone trying to sail around the world, or for life in general, or for someone trying to plan their financial life.

As a financial planner who focuses on women, their families and businesses, I think Jessica Watson is one savvy young woman. It’s clear from her blog and website that she is a serious planner who knows what her goals are, knows how to create a plan to achieve her goals, has the smarts and the skills to adjust as conditions change and has something that will stand her in good stead the rest of her life – courage.

Go Jessica!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Financial Planner’s Reading List: You Are What You Read

This past Sunday morning I (and, I suspect, millions of others) read an article in the New York Times Magazine by Elizabeth Weil.

So many books, so little time.

Married (happily) With Issues takes the reader along on a fascinating and personal journey in search of a more perfect union. Elizabeth Weil manages to convince her good sport of a husband, that even though their marriage is “good” they might benefit by attempting to make their good marriage better through various counseling and therapy strategies.

In the story, Weil discussed some of her peccadilloes (she doesn’t like French kissing) and his (he’s overly obsessed with cooking gourmet meals every day) that chipped away at their otherwise good marriage.  After I read the article, I remembered that my husband had “suggested” an idea that he thought might lead to a more perfect union between us. I might want to “review my magazine collection” he said, in the hope that some of them could be recycled, “before they took over the house.”

I know my magazine habit is a pet peeve of his…and the article triggered my unconscious and motivated me into action. It’s hard for me to discard my beloved magazines: The New Yorker, More, Gourmet, Sunset, Good, California Home & Design, and Cook’s Illustrated all hold for me hours of pleasurable entertainment.  But, because I knew it would be good for my marriage, I threw out everything but the 2009 issues.

Would I have agreed to purge my magazine collection if I hadn’t read about one couple trying to build a better marriage? Probably not. Could Elizabeth Weil have become a writer or a well-informed, always-trying-to-improve-spouse without reading? Probably not.

Reading is so important. One of the most powerful advantages to being an avid reader – you not only learn so many new and interesting things, (“Hey, let’s try and make our already good marriage better!”) reading has the power to change your behavior in positive ways. Reading can even help you think about, manage and handle money better!

My Personal Finance Reading list
This brings me to my list of favorite personal finance books –  guaranteed to change one or two of your money behaviors the first time you read them and more if you read again and again.  Just give some of these books a try and see if you start gaining money smarts!

1.   I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi.  Meant for a 20-30’s audience this book is full of tips about how to live within your means but enjoy the things you love, and how to automate your finances so that saving and investing are on auto-pilot.

2.  Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, and Monique Tilford.  Do you ever feel like you are spending money on things you don’t even really care about but buy anyway?  This book really makes you think about the value of your time and money and helps you to align your values with your spending.

3.  Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar.  An inspiring, practical guide that will help you to talk about money with your partner and create a successful financial life together.

4. Your Complete Retirement Planning Road Map: The Leave-Nothing-to-Chance, Worry-Free, All-Systems-Go Guide, Ed Slott.   Ed Slott is the guru of retirement planning and his books will teach you everything you need to know about 401k’s, IRA’s pensions, etc.

5. Making the Most of Your Money Now – The Classic Bestseller Completely Revised for the New Economy,  Jane Bryant Quinn.  A very comprehensive book covering all stages of your financial life. Discusses the pros and cons of major financial decisions.  (Buy the 2010 version, will be available soon).

Happy Reading!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

To Hatch Or Not To Hatch

Hatch Network CrewLast week I had the pleasure and satisfaction of watching six women entrepreneurs present their business stories to their peers and loved ones at the Slate Gallery in Oakland’s Temescal District. Each woman had just completed a 12 week course in entrepreneurship developed by the Hatch Network, a new, San Francisco-based company whose mission is “to be the absolute best provider of entrepreneurial education and services for women in the world.”

What the Hatch Network does, besides provide the curriculum, is to establish a network that connects experienced business veterans – the mentors – with ambitious business owners – the students.  Once those connections are established, the teaching/mentoring begins.

When Hatch Network co-owners, Allie Covarrubias and Claire Fontana asked that I become a mentor in their network, I didn’t hesitate. I was already familiar with their skills as leaders and visionaries and I wanted to become a part of their new venture.  Mentoring women entrepreneurs seemed like such a great complement to my financial planning practice, where I focus on women, their families and businesses.My initial concerns about time committments (I’m a solo practitioner, self employed) proved to be premature. This was a rich and rewarding experience.

So, back to the graduation celebration at the Slate Gallery in Oakland. The 12 weeks of classes are structured so that at the end, students are prepared for and required to present their business story as if they were presenting to investors or clients. They outline the who, what, when, why and how much of their business. The challenge is meant to help them achieve clarity over important business questions. Who are we? What do we provide. Who are our clients? Why are we unique? What benefits accrue to our customers? How much does our service cost? How much will we sell? And most important, how much will we make?

As you might expect, each of the six women were as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. Public speaking was a daunting prospect, added to the writing and technical skills needed to pull together a dynamic  8-10 minute presentation. But when they each took their turn, it was as if they had been practicing for days….each more polished and professional than the next. It was truly gratifying to watch them and to have been a part of their story.

Who are these ambitious women and what are their businesses?

Pascale Teysseire
Owner, Funding for College
Provides a personalized college funding search to assist students/parents in attaining financial aid: scholarships, fellowships, and grants –  necessary to attend the college of their choice.

Jane Inch
Owner, Jane Inch Life Coaching:  Reveal Your Inner Sparkle (website coming soon!)
Provides lifestyle and business design programs for the midlife/empty nester who is seeking clarity and is ready to launch “what’s next” in her life.

Linzi Oliver
Owner, Doggy & Me Fitness
Provides an outdoor fitness class for you and your dog.

Feleciai Favroth
Owner,  The Art of Bathing
Provides handcrafted creams and soaps with the finest natural ingredients including shea butter
olive, jojoba, coconut and essential oils.

Elizabeth Husserl
Owner, Inner Economics
Facilitates  processes of awareness and change around people’s relationship to money.

Anne Cavazos
Owner, Cavazos Environmental Consulting
Provides high quality and cost effective environmental consulting services.

Congratulations, ladies!

If you’re interested in becoming a Hatch Network student, my next class starts in January and will be held in Oakland, California. Here’s an abbreviated course syllabus:

Week 1:  Evaluating your Entrepreneurial Opportunity
Week 2:  Identifying Your Ideal Customer
Week 3:  Scoping Out The Competition
Week 4:  What Are You Selling
Week 5:  Building your Brand
Week 6:  Your Company Message
Week 7:  What To Charge
Week 8:  Marketing Focus
Week 9:  Sales 101
Week 10: Finding  the Money
Week 11: Book Keeping, Briefly Legal, Insurance 101
Week 12: Be the Boss Lady:  Team Building, Leadership
Week 13:  Your Business Story

If you would like more information, go to The Hatch Network’s website or email Cathy Curtis
at cathy at curtisfinancialplanning.com

Hatch away!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

The Best Laid Plans

Back in July, I talked about a fantastic group of Bay Area women business owners. Kathy Wiley, Christine Doerr, Malena Lopez-Maggi and Mindi Fong are all involved in the food business and each had a different take on the value and importance of having a business plan. The original post is here, Women and Money – Women in the Food Biz Talk Business Plans. In that post I shared some thoughts of my own on why business plans are so important. As the article below describes, assumptions and circumstances change and having a plan can help you stay flexible to deal with an ever changing environment.

The Small Business Blog
The New York Times has blog for small business owners called You’re the Boss. As of this writing the lead post is, “Six Ways to Deal with Small-Business Stress”. The Small Business Blog is a valuable resource for every small business owner with all kinds of wonderful stories and it has a rich mix of comments.

My So-Called Business Plan
I love stories about food, restaurants, money and yes, business plans, so I was fascinated by a recent post on You’re the Boss. The post is titled, My So-Called Business Plan (Enter Laughing) by Bruce Buschel. Mr. Buschel is a writer who bought a restaurant – an old, beat up place in Bridgehampton, NY called The Wild Rose.

The Original Wild Rose
The Original Wild Rose

It’s a lively story with a lot of ingredients: one part lifelong dream, two parts bank loan (for 1.5 million), one part contractor nightmares, three parts local bureaucratic snafus and yes, at least two parts business plan. And it has the requisite blog that details all of his ups and downs on the way.


Curious Bits and Bites
Mr. Buschel has a list of 100 things his waiters must never do that include never announcing your name, (??) no perfume, no touching the patrons and so on. Mr. Buschel waited an entire year to get his permits and he has no restaurant or liquor experience.  His restaurant will serve only fish. Mr. Buschel’s local planning board required that he bring to their office samples of the actual roof shingles he was planning to install. Opening is tentatively scheduled for April Fool’s Day 2010.

The Plan, What About the Business Plan?
Oh, yes the plan. Here is an excerpt from his blog post.


“Do I have a business plan? You think a man with 100 rules for a waiter wouldn’t have one business plan for himself? In fact, I have had, like a fecund humpback whale, two in two years and another one on the way.”


Mr. Buschel crunched numbers with an expert who had owned, run and built half a dozen restaurants. They used the best available data. A major conclusion: Based on the evidence, a clever, well-run restaurant could be successful in the Hamptons. Not exactly earth shattering information, but useful.

Then, right after he purchased The Wild Rose, the recession kicked in. Shortly thereafter, Lehman brothers failed. And to cap things off, the food writer Mark Bittman wrote in the New York Times that if fish are so endangered, maybe we shouldn’t be eating them at all. Oh dear…

So the business plan changed and changed again.  Here, is Mr. Bruschel’s current plan for a restaurant in the Hamptons.

– Avoid a hefty key fee and a long, ever-increasing lease by buying a place with important permits in place. Eateries are finite around here and therefore always in demand. Every penny spent will come back one way or another. If the restaurant fails, change the concept or rent the space or sell the property.

– Create a folksy place with funk.

– Assemble a crackerjack team.

– Open the best fish restaurant in the Hamptons (where none exists west of Montauk).

– In October, after your first full summer season, sit down and read the numbers, not the tea leaves. You will know where you went astray and where true you stayed. Adjust.

The new Wild Rose under construction
The new Wild Rose under construction

Should be great fun to watch this project unfold. Good luck Bruce, we’ll be watching with great anticipation!

You’re the Boss Blog
My So-Called Business Plan (Enter Laughing)

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!
Curtis Financial Planning