7 Personal Finance Lessons that I Learned as an Entrepreneur.
An exciting life Journey of an Entrepreneur, reveals some lessons on Personal Finance.
Taresh's past life giving instances.
The life of an entrepreneur is uncertain which bring life full of surprises! That is the excitement, and that leads to freedom.
My life as an entrepreneur started about 30 years back when I only wanted to have more money than what my dad and mom could give me as a student. Being the editor of a leading national newspaper had its charms and great respect but not great income! My Mother was a Government School teacher and also a homemaker. With my grandmother and my two year’s younger sister, our family was a happy, contented family.
Dad built our house long back in Delhi, but the home loan continued till he retired! When he had joined his first service, his boss asked him to give Rs. 100/- then (somewhere in 1965) and said that I have booked one plot for you in an upcoming journalist colony. Thus he became a plot owner.
Lesson 1: Home, your first home, should always be the top priority. Take loan immediately to buy your house.
I was pushed into it as there was no other option! All my school friends either went into medicine or engineering streams and the rest were called as “failed in life”. That time, in early 80’s, there weren’t options, and a few options make you compromised! Little did I know what exactly I wanted to become after I would finish graduation. When I could not satisfy my urge to have a great vacation in the summer holidays, I bargained with a travel and tour company to allow me to be a guide and hence earn my holidays on their packages. My first drawing started while in college! I was getting money as well as free vacations. Small things could now be bought out of my “earned money” and didn’t have to depend on my parents also.
I became an entrepreneur!
Lesson 2: be clear on your outcome and then do your task around it. Not take up a task, then change the outcome
My first phase of life as an entrepreneur had thus started.
The early challenges included unplanned expenses. Finance was always tight!
I completed my MBA as an evening course as I worked during the day for 3 years to earn my MBA fee and also for my necessities like a bike.
Lessons 3: Plan life ahead. Not just short term, but long term goals in writing.
There was no budgeting and only focus on “earning money.”
My MBA taught me to be systematic in life. Hence, everything in my life was built on a “process”. Like Henry Ford, I first wanted a system and assembly line; then the end product would come, is what I believed and practised. However, I was clear on my beliefs and value systems; Thus, I never compromised on such principles like honesty and truth.
Lesson 4: make your life and work aligned to your systems, which should be based on your beliefs and value systems.
I had a month to month target as no one ever told me to have long term plans.
I was now living on “hand to mouth” budget. The positive side was that whatever I earned, I simply spent. Dedicated to travel and expansion. This gave me freedom to travel various parts of India and hence, explore opportunities in India. I could get business from Chennai and sell it in Mumbai. People in Bangalore never trusted anyone from North India! I asked them:” what would be that critical factor that I could bring in so that they could trust me?” They said-“… bring business on a reliable platform and showcase it.” I did. Formed a Pvt Ltd. Company and showed them that I am going to be in business for years to come and with my communication, personality now groomed up, I brought a lot of faith and trust. My Mom and Dad supported me like a pillar, and that gave me immense strength. Their blessing brought me more confidence in whatever I was doing and could move forward despite setbacks.
Lesson 5: Freedom to explore India is an opportunity that you get once in a lifetime and never miss it.
Lesson 5 extended: Get your family to “buy-in” into what you do. Get them to support you morally and physically. Have one home as your base and make sure that you are going to live there. Avoid confusions about buying multiple homes based on your city of work. Plan ahead and think where exactly you would like to settle with your family with you.
My second phase started when I got married! My wife, an engineer, by profession, became my first love at first sight! I loved her from the first moment I saw her! The pre-marriage period lasting over six months was the best “romance” of my life. I never missed an evening to be with her. Small little dating was an investment to learn about each other and lay a solid, strong foundation for our future life to come. It was my first love and my first “experience”.
Lesson 6: sometimes, investment is not with money, but in love.
Laying a strong family foundation will bring you luck and faith in a life partner who can be your source of happiness, joy, love and much more… with unlimited patience, regards, respect, care. An endless stream of support when you do not have anyone to call your own. In times of extreme financial uncertainty, your life partner can guide and support you. With emotional and sometimes financial assistance. Never doubt your partner, then. Have faith and continue to build trust further on a continuing basis.
This phase of my life saw expansion. Continued Education in upgrading myself. After 15 years of last education, I again went into a sabbatical to get the highest qualification in the world of personal finance- CFPCM- CERTIFED FINANCIAL PLANNERCM. Long term goal setting was now happening. My new skill also made me organise my personal finance. Life insurance, health insurance, saving, and investment now became my top priority. The fear of the unknown areas of finance made me streamline my investments into mutual funds. Goal setting, risk profiling and then investing based on timeline started bringing results in my personal financial life. Family budgeting was now a process. With my decision to make a concentrated effort to stop taking any further loans for business and to have a plan to close all ongoing loans as a priority, brought results. Shortly, I was totally 100% debt free and promised my wife under an internal agreement when we were strolling on a Mumbai beach. The pact was called MBA or a short form of “Mia-Biwi-Agreement” or Mumbai Beach Agreement. That day onwards, we have not taken any loan. This “deal” brought complete clarity on the power of money and freedom from EMI. This phase was starting another phase to be able to live a debt free life. Inspired by Robert Kiyosaki's book- Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Lesson 7: Continue your learning and education. Be debt free. Hire a financial planner to make your own personalised financial plan and implement the same also.
The third phase of my life started with living my life on my principles.
My values and beliefs became my guiding force in my life. I stopped compromising on the kind of clients that I wanted. I ceased to negotiating my fee with my clients. I started working on what and how I wanted to generate referrals for myself. Getting customers in the way I wanted them to meet me. Some bad experiences with not having the right mentor gave me further directions. With a great mentor, I could manoeuvre my business in the leadership and at the speed that I wanted. It was now more satisfying and relief from any rat race.
I drew out a bio persona of my prospective clients. Thus, I developed a complete profile of how and what my ideal client would be like. This exercise helped me to gauge my future campaigns and be clear from where will my client come from. Thus be able to carve out a clear strategy for a long term. It brought results. It brought my self-reliance.
My backup for many things was my wife! She is a wonderful person! A super human being. Being a woman, she can do, not only multi-tasking but be present at many places without getting upset. Get many tasks done, without getting annoyed. I have always believed in women’s freedom and made a concentrated effort, since my marriage, to make my wife self-reliant also. Should anything happen to me? She can take care of my family, home, business…
I could now devote time to what I do in my life. The way I wanted to pursue my dreams and passions. Giving time for the family along with the ability to say no to a new prospective client was a discovery! My zeal to still learn more and make myself self-sufficient in each and every way was the way I wanted to expand my business. From learning photography to digital marketing to NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming), I started teaching myself new arts and crafts. With improved my communication to spread my messages on social media, I was now slowly on a path to self-discovery. My philosophies and my value systems were my guiding force. My Family is the source of love, became my inspiration. My goal in life changed. My family became my goal. The love from two children became my daily spring of joy. My only reason to Live! Perhaps!
To be able to live life on your terms is eternal bliss. I now started getting into this phase of life where I could pursue my dreams and passions. Excellence in everything I do has now become a routine.
Lesson: Always have a mentor in life. Someone who is knowledgeable and capable of guiding you in your life. Someone who also has a long-term vision and knows his work well.
Lesson: Keep your self-learning always on-going. Keep upgrading. Always be ready to learn new skills and new methods. Never stop educating yourself.
Living your life on your principles and then having an attitude, gives you that confidence that you can take up any challenge in Life.