The resounding question of ‘how to leave your office cubicle behind forever but still make ends meet’ was put to most Disruptive Business Network speakers at recent events. And in the true disruptor spirit – these were mostly answered very candidly but more specific details were left to be desired by the curious and captive audiences.
This week’s event was brave in wanting to specifically address the roadblock of all things money in entrepreneurial success. The start up community has been bewildered as to why the topic of money is still so taboo because it’s something we all have to manage and if we share our thoughts and methods, we are all better for it.
The event speaker – Entrepreneur and all round good guy, Pete Williams fronted the discussion around these otherwise avoided financial themes and questions, in another effort to @disruptmelb!
Here are just some of the many things the 40 or so disruptors learnt on the night:
- Apprenticeships are important. Apprenticeships are rarely offered these days, particularly if it’s not a trade. But interestingly, nor are they often sought. So pick up the phone and call your desired mentor and offer to work for free or on the cheap for them. Learn and practice as much as possible. Learning from others, even from articles, cases and overseas examples has been pivotal in Pete’s success (like selling off portions of a stand from the MCG after reading about a guy from New Jersey, who in the 1980’s sold old pieces of the famous Brooklyn Bridges walkway timber). Once you you’ve finished your apprenticeship, give them a cuddle and a bottle of wine and go on your merry way with a myriad of idea$ and a reference for your resume.
- Try it out first – get your negotiate on. It seems like a captain obvious statement at first but from Pete’s experience most people don’t try to negotiate in the most obvious of places. So, like a true entrepreneur, negotiate where you can, while you can. Start with your own personal finance – sell things in your house you no longer need. Do some research and have some figures ready then call the cancellation department of your financial or utility service companies. Once you have specifically asked for the cancellation department, negotiate yourself a better deal by stating you will cancel your services and go with another provider if they don’t reduce your interest rate or fees. It takes balls. It takes practice. It takes persistence. Seeking and presenting the right information at the right time are skills aligned with being an entrepreneur so get going, make the bastards sweat and have some fun with it all whilst saving some dollars.
- Mind games – ‘constrain yourself positively’. Pete’s ‘positive constraints’ are things like parking in a tow away zone in the morning so you have to leave the pub and be back in time so you don’t wind up with a fine, or a towed car. Personal finance is no different to any area of life in that you need to take action, be disciplined and be smart about it. But if you also trick yourself by setting up positive constraints in a realistic way that works for you, you have an edge and a contingency that will serve you well in future. These are the types of things your grandparents did but were mostly lost to apathy and the invention of the smart phone. For example, transfer a portion of your cash to a savings account where you can’t touch it and leave an amount that you can splash on as many coffees and midnight maccas runs as you please. But, it’s not just about being frugal and driving a hard bargain, it’s about what works for you – what you can stick to. Constrain yourself so you don’t notice it on a day-to-day basis. Constrain yourself so it positively effects you in future. You’ll thank yourself later when it’s the difference between making rent and not.
- Budgets suck the big one. It’s natural to dislike all things personal finance but it’s one of the vital foundations for entrepreneurs that are often overlooked. It is super common to have a focus and a passion but be overwhelmed with dread at the sight of a spreadsheet. Bookkeeping can be your success or demise so get over it and find something that works for you. If you are anything like Pete, budgets don’t work because he can’t stick to them so instead set up a series of positive constraints so you can keep that smile on your dial and not have a heart attack if something unexpected, like a birthday, pops up. If you don’t like budgets, don’t do them. But do something else instead.
- Check yourself before you wreck yourself (and your superannuation). Before you start a business ask yourself a series of questions first, including your business AND personal purposes because they truly are one and the same. We become so engrossed and obsessed with an idea we don’t ask ourselves the prickly questions we really ought to before we throw ourselves in the proverbial deep end. Why do you want to start a business? Is it to get rich quick and sell it? If yes, can you personally afford for it to fail? What about retirement? Family?
A common mistake Pete recommends avoiding is failing to think about what you really want along with what the financial implications of those things are. For example, do you want to travel? When do you want to retire? Oh, you don’t care about retirement? You’re not alone but why don’t we care about that? Usually entrepreneurs are passionate and focused types so naturally your business idea and dream are THE sole focus of all your activities and efforts – there’s no room to think about retirement at all, whatsoever. However – if you flip that on its head – a cushy beachside retirement can be included as one of your main motivations for a start up business in the first place – think longevity versus shortsighted money making.
Also, seeing a financial adviser or accountant are also wise moves that Pete still does each year to make sure he can keep himself and his young family afloat in a sustainable way.
There are thousands of people doing it and doing it well so why not get your disrupt on and ask their advice as to how they are doing it? The worst they can say is no but for the most part, Pete has found there are ideas and methods everywhere; you just have to look for them. And act on them. In a way that suits your habits and strengths specifically without forgetting about the fact that you might like to travel and/or retire one day.
The disruptors left the venue with a few ponies to put in to action along with some newfound friends and the below recommended resources:
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
- Barefoot Investor
- One of the disruptors had this book in hand and it’s a killer – The New Rules of Management
- Pete’s website
A big disruptor thank you to the superstar venue, Shebeen – 100% of profits go to the developing world so a school night beer has never tasted so good!
Words and Iphone-ography by Emily Alexandra. A proper photoset of the event is to follow…