- Player: Fatima Vawda
- Company: 27four Investment Managers
- Turnover: R80 million
- Established: 2007
- Visit: 27four.com
- Build your brand and build your reputation. These really matter if you want to grow your business.
- Don’t chase every opportunity. Diversification is risky. Think carefully about how you want to grow.
- Service is key. Pay attention to the details. Be organised. Finish what you start.
- Hire the right people, and then give them room to grow. Reward them handsomely.
The financial services sector can hardly be described as under-populated. In fact, it is a space dominated by some very prominent players, so starting up a business in the industry isn’t easy.
“Getting clients isn’t hard when you work for a big organisation,” says Vawda, who started out in a large corporate. “Brand counts for an awful lot.”
For Vawda, however, the prospect of sticking to the corporate track and making her way up the ladder didn’t appeal. She wanted to start her own thing.
Of course, this was a tremendous gamble. After 11 years in the industry, Vawda could have landed a safe and lucrative position within a large company. Instead, she founded 27four, rented office space in Rosebank and pushed all her savings into the business. It was a huge gamble.
But the gamble paid off. In less than a decade, 27four has grown to a company of more than R80 million in annual turnover and assets under discretionary management of a whopping R23 billion. How did it happen? Vawda credits the following:
1. Having a great reputation
“If you want to build a great business, you first need to work for great businesses,” says Vawda. “I worked hard for eleven years, gaining knowledge and building a reputation before striking out on my own.”
Moreover, working in an industry allows you to network and identify business opportunities before you even start your own company.
“You need to leverage your connections when building your business,” says Vawda. “I left the companies I worked for on good terms, which meant that I could go back and do business with them.”
In fact, Legae Capital, where Vawda worked prior to starting 27four, was eventually acquired by her company.
“You also need to put yourself out there,” says Vawda. “You need to position yourself as a thought leader. 27four is involved in some industry or community event virtually every week of the year. We spend a lot of time and money marketing the company, all with the aim of creating a brand that people recognise, respect and trust.”
27four has even entered into a relationship with Soweto TV, through which it sponsors a weekly investment show called Money Moves with 27four Investment Managers, which aims to improve financial literacy.
“We’re not afraid to take a stance and be seen as activist investors,” says Vawda. “Even our name is derived from the date of South Africa’s first free election. We want to play an active part in improving South Africa, and that goes a long way in defining who we are. It helps position our brand.”
2. Finding (and owning) a niche
“Even though there were already a lot of players in the industry, I believed there was a gap in the market for a smaller player. Financial services were concentrated in the hands of a few corporates who couldn’t really offer a personalised boutique service,” says Vawda.
“Moreover, I realised that there was very little transformation taking place within the financial services industry, so I thought there was an opportunity for a company that could help facilitate transformation.”
So, one of the first offerings from 27four was a black asset-manager incubator programme that provided large asset owners with a risk-managed solution that could assist in transformation while keeping risks low. It is an area in which 27four is still a leader today.
The company has grown significantly since inception, but its product offering has remained fairly simple.
“Growth doesn’t necessarily equal diversification. You just confuse the client by making your offerings too complex. It is tempting to chase every opportunity that comes your way, but you need to fight it. Our aim is to stay focused on what we’re good at. However, we also want to grow market share and improve our penetration,” says Vawda.
“If you want to scale your business, you need to be able to provide new clients with the same level of service you offered when you were just starting out, so our focus is on developing the processes and systems needed to roll our offerings out to more people. Reporting to five clients is not the same as reporting to 5 000.”
3. Hiring (and rewarding) the right people
It goes without saying that, as a business grows, you need to take on employees who will be able to provide the same level of service to clients that you do personally. This isn’t always easy.
“We make it attractive to work here. We offer a market-related salary, as well as other rewards in the forms of equity and bonuses. Our employees also get to travel internationally quite a bit. It’s important that the team travel to global conferences. We aren’t making widgets. Our business is intellectual in nature, so being on top of the latest developments is important. We always need to expand our knowledge.”
27four aims to attract two kinds of people. “It’s crucial that you attract the right people. Not everyone wants to work in a smaller company. Some prefer the corporate path.
“We look for people who have had the same sort of path that I did — who started out in a corporate organisation where they gained knowledge and experience — but who are now looking for a smaller environment where it’s easier to take part in making strategic decisions. Then we also look for new people who are smart and educated, but who can join us at a young age and do some learning here.”
Importantly, Vawda actively aims to make the organisation as diverse as possible. “If you want to be relevant and truly understand your client, you need a team that reflects the diversity of the larger society. This is especially important in a melting pot such as South Africa. If you don’t transform and embrace the nature of the environment in which you operate, you will become irrelevant.”
4. Offering great service
It goes without saying that it’s important to offer good service, but it is worth pausing to consider what that actually means. Most companies claim to provide great service, but how many actually back up this claim with proper action?
“So much of so many businesses actually comes down to servicing clients,” says Vawda.
“It is the foundation of a lot of business. For me, this comes down to paying attention to the details. Many companies fail because they don’t get the basics right. You need to finish what you start and always be organised.
“Every day at 2pm, an email goes out to the whole company that simply asks: Have you connected all the dots? It reminds everyone to follow through and provide a great service at all times. Turnaround times need to be swift. Since the company started, we haven’t lost a single client, and we’re incredibly proud of that. It means that we offer a service we can be proud of.”
The Law Of Attracting Your Success
Once you discover your who, you automatically discover your why, which in turn allows you to lead with your heart rather than your head. Discover that energy source, and the world is your oyster.
From the teachings of Buddha to the concept of karma, the Law of Attraction has been expressed in many ways by both ancient and contemporary thinkers. In its most simplistic interpretation, the Law of Attraction states that ‘like attracts like’.
Your ability to Magnetiize exists whether you are aware of it or not, whether you are positive or negative. You make daily decisions to choose whether you want to attract success or failure (however you define them), whether you want to live a more conscious, elegant and curious life or whether you want to keep your head down and stick to the old rules.
We are constantly Magnetiizing in every aspect of our lives, whether we’re running a business, interacting with friends or simply walking into a room. Changing how you do it can be a scary prospect, but it will move you from a stagnant space to one in which you can develop with meaning.
When you are in a space of positive magnetism, the momentum builds and your access to energy is incredible — it feels like electricity running through your body, with your ideas in focus and creativity flowing.
Magnetiize in 3 Steps
To Magnetiize is to take control of your own future and, in so doing, transform from a state of panic to a state of calm; from chasing ambition to seeking meaning.
- The first step is a process I call Micro Inspection: How to confront the obstacles in your mind and start making decisions that are led by your heart.
- Then comes Mega Exploration: Examining the qualities of future-forward and conscious businesses.
- Finally, you need to bring it all together into your own reality, with the Macro Perspective: Understanding new technology and trends, and embracing the future.
This holistic approach allows you to Magnetiize into your life the right type of people, appropriate access to opportunities, and the money and power you need for sustainable success. To truly achieve, you must combine Micro Inspection, Mega Exploration and Macro Perspective.
When you learn how to Magnetiize, you attract a tribe of people who you can work (and socialise) with in harmony. Your tribe should consist of elders, advisers and friends who complement your skills and personality and bring out the best version of you — the best ‘I’ behind your ‘I’. You’ll find that the tribe changes, for the better, the type of decisions you make and the discussions you have.
And as a result, your ability to Magnetiize will rub off on those around you, encouraging them also to step out of their comfort zone and to participate in shaping the future.
Magnetize is circulated through all good book sellers and at www.johnsanei.com
Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage
Have a plan in place for your money, no matter how much you earn.
Seven-figure pay cheques are enough to buy a lifetime of financial security, right? Well, not exactly. Despite making millions, seemingly wealthy celebrities often have a tough time keeping their heads above the financial waters.
Johnny Depp spending $3 million to fire Hunter S. Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon, or Nicholas Cage shelling out $150,000 for a pet octopus, are both prime examples of how lavish lifestyles can quickly lead to debt. The two A-listers are part of a long list of actors, musicians, athletes, etc. – including Floyd Mayweather, 50 Cent and Curt Schilling – who have all experienced financial troubles.
While there’s nothing wrong with celebrities enjoying their earnings, a little budgeting can go a long way. Just take a look at Tori Spelling. After failing to pay a balance of more than $35,000, the actress was taken to court by American Express. Another example is 80s movie star Corey Haim. He became so desperate for cash after filing for bankruptcy he tried to sell his own tooth on eBay for $150, which didn’t get any buyers.
Avoid falling into any of these situations by keeping a close eye on your spending. Regardless of how much you make, the following few budgeting tips promise to help you practice safe and responsible money management.
Put a plan in place
Nearly everyone lose sleep over their finances. Get a good night’s rest by figuring out where your money should be going long before it’s in your bank account. Spending without a plan, even if it’s only splurging on a one-time event, can have unintended consequences.
One example of this is former NFL star Vince Young – after dropping $300,000 on his own birthday party he was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another example is Mike Tyson, who went into debt after overspending on Bengal tigers, 110 cars and a $2-million bathtub.
That doesn’t mean you can never treat yourself, but make sure you’re not spending money faster than you can earn it. Set up a series of “fun funds” each month to splurge on nonessentials. Depending on what else you have going on that month, each fund should be adjusted accordingly.
If, for example, you’re heading out to a friend’s wedding, there may be a little less left over for eating out. Stay up to date on your spending by downloading a budgeting app. The easier it is to see where you are for that month, the better chance you have of staying under budget.
Carry around some cash
Credit cards are becoming the most common payment method among consumers. The average American currently carries around three credit cards at any given time. While they may be more convenient, credit cards can easily lure consumers into a false sense of security.
After all, a simple swipe or tap is often all it takes to complete a purchase. However, it’s important to take time to research any costly items thoroughly and ensure you won’t regret them like Nicholas Cage. He learned this lesson the hard way when he blew $276,000 on a dinosaur skull that he was forced to return after it was discovered to be an illegal import.
Curb some of your impulse spending during a night out by bringing enough cash for the occasion. In addition to avoiding spending money you don’t have, you’ll also sidestep costly ATM fees at establishments that only accept cash.
Whether it means stopping by your bank on the first of every month or getting cash back at the grocery store, do whatever it takes to have a little bit of cash on hand. As you cut back on credit card purchases, your chances of falling into debt should begin to dwindle.
Lean on an expert
When it comes to your finances, take a lesson from the likes of Oprah, Tyga and Hugh Jackman, who invest in financial and life coaches. Many celebrities, including Oprah, attribute their success to their coaches helping put them on the right path. Even celebrities are human and can find it difficult to stick to budgeting goals.
Personalised features of a comprehensive coaching programme, such as daily check-in texts and bi-weekly budget reviews, promise to provide you with the encouragement needed to remain accountable even as the going gets tough.
Better yet, a financial coach can take your individual goals into account. Say you decide to start a family or need to make a cross-country move. Instead of wondering what that might mean for your budget, you can work with a financial coach to modify your spending habits and investments long before a change comes to fruition.
Budgeting goes beyond class. No matter how much you make, responsible money management has shown itself to be a necessity. Avoid following in the footsteps of celebrities who face serious financial trouble by keeping a close eye on where your money is going.
As we’ve seen all too often, failing to do so can mean losing millions. Simple steps – including creating a spending plan, occasionally relying on cash and reaching out to an expert – can help you achieve financial security sooner rather than later.
And if you plan carefully enough, you might just end up with the funds you need for that pet octopus.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The 5-Hour Rule Used By Bill Gates, Jack Ma And Elon Musk
The most successful people on the planet are also the people likeliest to devote an hour a day to reading and learning.
You just walked in the door from an exhausting day at work. You’re hungry and spent, just wanting to catch your breath for a minute. You grab something to eat and then veg out in front of the TV. Next thing you know, you’ve just binge-watched five episodes of “Jessica Jones.”
While that’s OK occasionally – we all need ways to decompress and shut down – this isn’t a healthy habit. That’s why the most successful people in the world spend their free time learning.
It’s not exactly breaking news. During his five-year study of more than 200 self-made millionaires, Thomas Corley found that they don’t watch TV. Instead, an impressive 86 percent claimed they read – but not just for fun. What’s more, 63 percent indicated they listened to audiobooks during their morning commute.
Productivity expert Choncé Maddox writes, “It’s no secret that successful people read. The average millionaire is said to read two or more books per month.”
As such, she suggests everyone “read blogs, news sites, fiction and non-fiction during downtime so you can soak in more knowledge.” If you’re frequently on the go, listen to audiobooks or podcasts.
Maybe you’re thinking: Who has the time to sit down and actually read? Between work and family, it’s almost impossible to find free time. As an entrepreneur and a father, I can relate – but only to an extent. After all, if Barack Obama could fit in time to read while in the White House, what excuse do you have? He even credits books to surviving his presidency.
President Obama is far from the only leader to credit his success to reading. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban and Jack Ma are all voracious readers. As Gates told The New York Times, reading “is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid.”
Breaking down the five-hour rule
The five-hour rule was coined by Michael Simmons, founder of Empact. The concept is wonderfully simple: No matter how busy successful people are, they always “set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that can be classified as deliberate practice or learning.”
Simmons traces this phenomenon back to Ben Franklin. “Throughout Ben Franklin’s adult life, he consistently invested roughly an hour a day in deliberate learning. I call this Franklin’s five-hour rule: One hour a day on every weekday,” Simmons wrote.
For Franklin, his learning time consisted of waking up early to read and write. He established personal goals and tracked his results. In the spirit of today’s book clubs, he created a club for “like-minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” He also experimented with his new information and asked reflective questions every morning and evening.
The three buckets of the five-hour rule
Today’s successful leaders have embraced Franklin’s five-hour rule by breaking the rule into three buckets.
Self-made millionaires including Mark Cuban and Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, read between one and three hours daily. Elon Musk learned how to build rockets, which lead to SpaceX, by reading.
Besides expanding your knowledge, Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, says that “reading can give you a good head start; this is often what your peers cannot obtain. Compared to others, readers are more likely to know other industries’ strategies and tactics.”
Even if you can’t commit to an hour or more of reading every day, start with 20 to 30 minutes. I always have a book with me so when I’m waiting for a meeting to start or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, I can read instead of waste time on my smartphone. You could also try audiobooks during your daily commute or when exercising.
So how do they find the time to read daily? They adhere to the five-hour rule.
Other times, the five-hour rule includes reflecting and thinking. This could be just staring at the wall or jotting down your thoughts. Jack Dorsey and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner are well-known thinkers, while entrepreneur Sara Blakely is a longtime journaler.
Focusing on the past gives you a chance to learn from mistakes you’ve made, as well as assess what you did correctly. As a result, you’ll be better suited to achieve your goals and improve your life. The University of Texas also found that mental rest and reflection improves learning.
Need help getting started? Schedule reflection time in your planner. I’ve found blocking out 15 to 20 minutes after lunch is ideal because I’m coming out of that post-lunch slump. But start small: Allocate five or 10 minutes per day, and then work your way up so you’re not overwhelmed.
Know the questions you want to ask. Stick with just two or three questions focused on that specific day. For example, if you attended a conference, ask, “What were the key takeaways?” and “How can I apply this to my business?”
The third and final bucket is rapid experimentation. Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison became leading inventors and thinkers because of their experiments. We have Gmail because Google allowed employees to experiment with new ideas.
The reason experiments are so useful is because you have facts, not assumptions. Experiments show you what’s working. You can learn from your mistakes and obtain feedback from others. Best of all, experimentation isn’t that time-consuming. Most of the time, you’re testing through the same activities you’d perform without testing.
Jack Ma even recommends applying the knowledge you’ve learned to a real-life scenario. For example, after reading a book about collaboration and teamwork, you could take on new volunteer work to put that knowledge to use.
When you make learning a habit, you’ll be more successful and productive in life. By investing in a reading habit, you can ensure you’re growing yourself – and your company – every day.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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