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Lasagna as a retirement plan? Mamma mia!

Don't quit your day job ... yet. Or, at least wait until you talk to Carol Roth, a small-business advocate, "recovering" investment banker, and author of "The Entrepreneur Equation." In a new digital series, Roth takes on would-be entrepreneurs who want to abandon their careers for new small-business ideas. Here, she analyzes David Viggiano, a 51-year-old actor-turned-journalist-turned PR guy, who is dreaming of opening a family Italian restaurant chain, an Italian market and ultimately a take-and-bake lasagna business, where they bake it part way and customers bake it the rest of the way when they get home. He hasn't saved a ton for retirement and is planning to pour most of his savings into this business — in hopes it works out and provides for his retirement. So, should he quit his day job? Here's what Carol had to say.

Not everyone was meant to be an entrepreneur. For some people, it's that they are better at execution than vision. For others, it's because they really have a particular talent and by opening a business, they would spend less time doing what they are good at and more time running the business.

And still for others, it's because they are in love with the fun, festivity and creativity of creation, but not the every-day grind of blocking and tackling — the execution of the business.

It's natural to love planning. Frankly, more people plan the details of their wedding — picking out the band, the cake, the flowers, etc., than they do planning for the "happily ever after." But anyone will tell you that it's the "happily" part that makes the marriage.




The same goes for business. While it's super fun to plan — and a chore at times to run the business — the running the business part determines success.

So, when I met the bubbly and energetic David Viggiano, I was concerned. David has had many careers — and now he wants to be an entrepreneur.

And not just any entrepreneur — he wants to launch an Italian restaurant to then create an Italian market to get to his real idea of a take-and-bake lasagna franchise.

David is low on finances but big on ideas. He's reinvented himself more times than Madonna. But, his ability to fall easily in and out of love with careers is likely to cause problems as an entrepreneur.

And I can already see the signs in that he doesn't want to tackle one business idea, but three to get to his "real" idea and passion.

While entrepreneurship is difficult, its principles are simple. You need to keep your concept, operations and everything else as simple as possible and do your best job on execution each and every day. I worry that won't interest David in the long-run.

Coupled with the fact that restaurants are among the easiest business to start, but have among the highest rates of failure, this could be a recipe (pun intended) for disaster!


David's brother owns a restaurant, which has been good for shadowing and learning about the business. But David doesn't have a ton of restaurant experience. And, I would guess that he's the type of person who gets bored easily.

I suggest that David does not quit his job … whatever it is that day.

If he is going to pursue this dream, I think he needs to simplify the business plan — and do one thing really well, whether that's a restaurant, lasagna — whatever.

I highly suggest that he doesn't fly solo. He needs a strong partner who has the experience and temperament- and commitment- for the long haul.

And, he needs to focus on his future while he's doing it. A partnership could work out well for David financially — getting paid more in salary and maybe less in equity so, as a 50-something entrepreneur, he can start saving for retirement while he gains his experience (and also provide an easier exit if it doesn't work out).


If you're an entrepreneur looking to turn your hobby or "jobbie" into a full-time career, we want to hear from you. Email: AskCarolRoth@cnbc.com.