How My Life As An Entrepreneur Started At McDonald’s
This is a guest post written by Susan Bruno, a private wealth specialist and Managing Director of Beacon Wealth Consulting.
A “charity fair” was my early entrée into entrepreneurship. It was the early 70’s and I was nine years old. The Ronald McDonald House offered a free “fair kit” that included everything needed to run a grass roots charity fair. The proceeds would benefit their cause which was a “home-away-fromhome” for families to stay close by their hospitalized child. The cause struck a chord to me as a clingy child, not to mention that the colorful kit that came in the mail would make the neighborhood kids jealous. So I went off to work my pigtail magic to get Mom to agree to host the fair on our front lawn. I then pestered the dad next door relentlessly to make a customized wooden beanbag toss (which he finally agreed to and was cherished for years to come). Lastly, I was able to convince the neighborhood moms to make bake sale items. The fair was my first lesson in pure profit. But best of all, I loved the home made cigar cash box. Yes, even better than all the brownies, games and prizes. It was our treasure chest to hold the nickels, dimes, pennies and occasional dollar to be sent off all in the name of a good cause. It was heavy and jingled, and counting the contents of the cigar box became contagious. I was on to something. I was in charge and I relished bringing a dream to life with just vision, perseverance and passion.
Fast forward to the 80’s. Many more life lessons were learned. “Counting” became “accounting” and what better way than to learn from the pros: The Big 8. Specializing in tax and financial planning became my passion, but I needed more. Married with two young children, you’d think I would have enough on my plate but so many opportunities were screaming in my head. With the blessing of the partners at Price Waterhouse I ventured out to build my own financial planning firm, and about a year later, simultaneously opened not one but two French children clothing stores (jacadi on Madison Ave in NYC and Costa Mesa, CA) with my college roommate and one of my favorite clients, the formidable John C. Emery Jr. John had recently monetized on the sale of Emery Air Freight to Consolidated Freightways and was taken with my proposal to invest in a growing market.Unfortunately John has since passed away, but he did tell me that our business together was not only one of the most profitable, but also the most fun. What better compliment? Juggling my tax clients, smocked dresses at jacadi, and diapers at home suited me very well, but I realized it still wasn’t enough when I found the spark in my own daughter.
At about the same age of nine, my daughter, Stephanie, proposed the idea of a charity fair of her own. The mail order kit no longer existed, but it didn’t need to. It was all still crystal clear in my head so I was able to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in her— full of excitement, enthusiasm, hope, and sensible optimism. But instead of loving the cigar box Stephanie loved the color and excitement.
Fast forward to present day…and our two worlds collided in the birth of DivaCFO and DivaDOCS. Together, we are a mother-daughter team on a mission to help women everywhere take charge of their personal finances. We are using our combined strengths to share, for little or no cost, through imparting critical lessons on our Blog at DivaCFO.com, and, with a huge amount of excitement, we are releasing a truly unique app we have called DivaDOCS which will be available in the Apple store June 30th!
This has been a dream of mine for so many years since I was at a loss in my planning practice, dumbfounded by the lack of women coming to my office for help with their financial plan. So often their husbands show up to my office, but they choose to stay on the tennis court or the bridge table. Unfortunately, the only time some do finally show up is when one of the 5D’s occurs: Death, Divorce, Disability, Disaster and Debt. And could you think of a worse time to learn about your finances? Nope. But what was stopping them? Finance is black and white. Women don’t want black and white—they want Technicolor.
With my planning expertise gained over 25 years as a CPA financial planner (black and white) and Stephanie’s newly minted college degree in communication, social media and all things current (Technicolor), we have built a truly unique platform to engage women in the financial world. So now we hope women will come early and often, en masse, to take control of their own finances. Our motto is “Be Prepared, Not Scared”.
Our “fair” experience was more than a front-yard fair. It was the most important early life lesson either of us could have imagined. And it was so similar to building our business. Both required dedication, the power of persuasion and a heart, and of course still do. When you build something that you are passionate about, that you WANT to stay up until 4am to work on, and you know it will change the lives of so many, how can you not help to SMILE and love the opportunity available to all of us to be an entrepreneur?
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