Happy Thanksgiving! Food, fellowship, football. There are so many reasons to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast. But what about that window of time after you’ve taken your seat, plated your food, and Mom makes you turn off the TV? Sure, you can make the rounds of “what are you thankful for”, but what then?

You may not be able to control who’s at dinner, but you can take charge of some conversation starters! While avoiding “certain topics” may be impossible, electing to use these 3 topics to trump the normal fodder may at least bide you some time. Recount your blessings.

1. “What’s your favorite local business, and what sets them apart?”

Understanding a business’s unique selling proposition (USP) is mission #1 when trying to figure out if they have what it takes to succeed. This is a nice low-conflict question that can get some practice reps in for your evaluation of local investment opportunities. It might also give you some ideas of where you want to shop on Small Business Saturday.

2. “If you had your choice, what types of businesses would you like to invest in and why?”

This one is fun and could go a lot of directions. Different industries, growth goals, risk tolerance, return structures. Answers could range from boom-or-bust startup to modest but cash-flowing widget shop. With no wrong answer (well…almost none), you can get interesting perspectives on what to look for and how to balance your personal goals

3. “Did you hear about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s latest harmonization rules? I believe these represent strong regulatory tailwinds!”

Well that escalated quickly. You may think this topic will relegate you to the kid’s table. You may also think I made a bet to see how many people I could get to use the phrase “regulatory tailwinds”. You may be right.

Feel free to put it in your own words, but this is actually a pretty big deal. Here’s the gist of the new rules soon to be in effect (really this is 4 topics in itself, so you are in bonus territory now. You might make it all the way through the meal!):

  • A private business can use Reg CF to raise up to $5 million (up from $1 million!), meaning way more businesses can put this funding avenue to use. I like to think of it as a micro-IPO. And it’s available to anyone that wants to microinvest. This looks like a trend that is not slowing down.
  • Unaccredited investors” will have even more access to these investments with loosened restrictions on investment caps. I’ll resist jumping into the math for now, but the current rule requires looking at your income AND net worth while the new rules will rely on whichever one is higher.
  • Limitations on investment amounts will be completely removed for accredited investors.
  • Businesses will be able to “test the waters” aka talk about their desire to raise funds before having to go through the whole process of putting together an offering. Just think…businesses all around you could be planning to raise their next round and you don’t even know! Ok maybe that is not that uncommon, but soon your favorite places may invite you in on the conversation.

Whether you keep it simple or jump into the roles of regulators, a “little shop” talk can be a refreshing look into who is doing big things in your community, and how shifting some dollars locally can drive innovation, jobs, and a whole new investment portfolio.