Entrepreneurship. A word cloaked in so much hope, passion and idealism but, having been brought up by an entrepreneur and having been one for most of my professional life, I have also learned that it comes with hard work, erratic income and setbacks. The stories of entrepreneurs who failed multiple times before succeeding beyond their wildest imagination are many, and that is what drives most of us who enter the entrepreneurship space.
In South Africa, many have spoken of entrepreneurship as the solution to issues of unemployment, particularly amongst the youth. When submerged in your business, it is sometimes hard to look beyond the day-to-day travails and plan adequately for the future. You put everything into the business with the determination and commitment to succeed but the reality is that it doesn’t always work out and it is necessary to take a pragmatic approach to such things.
When I moved to Johannesburg and started my IT consulting company, BAKA Consulting, the plan was to make enough money to not have to worry about saving for retirement. Plus, because my partner and I put everything into the company, I didn’t believe I had enough to even save for a rainy day. Needless to say, when I left and the company subsequently shut down, I had to start from scratch, which I have since done several times – hence my belief that I am due an immensely successful one now.
When I got married, I was instructed, in no uncertain terms by the missus, that I needed to start saving, which I did very haphazardly – the process always seemed so complicated and, despite my Economics background, I will confess that it’s been a mission understanding how the different vehicles work.
In my last job, at Destiny Man, I had the opportunity to interact with investment houses and financial planners and have become better at putting money aside, especially when discovering that one doesn’t have to have thousands of Rands lying around to invest and save. I do have moments when I regret not informing myself better at a younger age. Starting to save in my late 30s and early 40s has put the goalposts a bit further but, as they say, better late than never. The one thing I have done is setup investments for my children who will, hopefully, benefit from having a cash base to work from as they go out into the world to establish themselves.
One thing that most investment/financial advisors have taught me is that you need to empower yourself and not cede total control of your investments to someone else. You need to be able to, in a way, police the experts. Sanlam Investment Management has created an online platform that takes the tediousness out of saving for your future, whether it is just investing, for a rainy day, for your kids, for a home, for retirement or for a dream purchase. Check it out HERE.
The process is simple to follow and it took me under 10 minutes to setup a small investment of R200 a month. You specify why you are saving, what kind of investor you are (ie. Conservative, Moderate or Aggressive) and it recommends “pre-selected performance-driven funds” for you. I approached it as a newbie but there is also a process for those who are a bit more comfortable to select their own funds. It also shows whether your target return is realistic taking into consideration what you want to put in as a lump sum, on a monthly basis and over the period you are looking it. Plus you can also upload your FICA documents on the platform as a scanned document or by taking a pic on your webcam. You can then adjust accordingly or accept that you may not necessarily reach your target, but it is a starting point. Or, at least that’s how I approached it.
While it puts more power in your hands, you still get the benefit and are guided by Sanlam Asset Managers who have a wealth of experience. Also, there is a way of investing tax-free in unit trust products and the platform ensures that you can do so within the boundaries of regulation. And, you can withdraw your money at any time. You are not locked into your investment/savings product for a long and fixed period and you won’t be penalised in any form if you decide to exit. It is structured to offer you the best product to fulfil your goal with no strings attached and, should your goals change, as they often do, you can also withdraw from one product and start up another.
Since discovering the power of compound interest, I truly believe that you can’t save or invest enough, regardless of how small you start off with. It’s important to pay your future self. You’ll thank yourself for it.