Rule #1 Finance Blog

With Investor Phil Town


A few weeks ago I was asked to do a guest spot on a new show at
MSNBC called Your Business
.  It airs at 7:30 EST Sunday mornings, so
TiVo is a nice thing if you party like a rock star. 

This kind of thing
is definitely a perk of having a New York Times best selling book.
Doing TV interviews is fun, but they tend to be 4 or 5 minutes, in and
out.  This show is a blast because we can actually discuss some

The idea of the show is to give small business owners a lot of
information in an entertaining way.  The key to that is the host, JJ
She is just a cool woman and really easy to work with.  JJ goes on
location at interesting small businesses, interviews the founders,
and finds issues that are of concern to the owners for us to discuss.

I've been teamed up on two shows with Wendy Bounds from the Wall Street
.  She is incredibly knowledgable about small business issues, while I look
at it from the point of view of a Rule #1 investor.  Sometimes we see
things quite differently. 

For example, we were discussing whether a
small business has to offer health insurance to its employees.  Wendy
thinks yes in order to attract good people.  I think I've funded a lot
of startups and never had one that provided health insurance.  If
someone isn't coming on this ride because of health insurance, I'm
thinking they haven't really bought into the BAG, knowwhatImean?  And
let's keep that Margin of Safety baby!  I hate it when a business is
spending money its does not have to spend since I'm the owner and

A lot of what I write about in Rule #1 I learned while doing
Venture Capital.  Businesses that don't have Meaning, Moat &
Management just don't make for very good investments at any stage, even
at the startup… maybe even most importantly at the startup.  So if
you are an investor and you are thinking of starting your own small
business, remember that those 4M's are going to be really important all
along the way… Even for a laundromat. 

Does it have a Moat?  Do you
understand the Meaning of the business?  Are you a great Manager?  Are
you getting in with a good Margin of Safety?

I hope you enjoy the MSNBC Your Business show.  I'll be on it a few more times, I'm sure.  It's play time for me.
Now you go play.