In this episode we interview Jain McGuigan, owner of 5 businesses and serial Entrepreneur.
Jain takes us through the highs and lows of her 15 year entrepreneurial journey
We learn about:
- Why she started her own business (hint: it was to solve a problem, not a lifelong burning desire).
- How she pivoted in those businesses to to remain relevant to a changing world.
- She discusses the three major challenges entrepreneurs face, and how she’s dealt with them.
- How she started the Small Business Forum to help others facing the same challenges she did
- Her latest two businesses and how they started out of helping less fortunate ladies develop their sewing business
- Which one piece of advice she read on this blog to help her achieve what she wanted
- Hint: How badly do you want it
- Hint 2: #TurnTheTVOff
- Small Business Forum website
- Business number 5: Fashion designer portal
- Business number 3: Refract Marketing Agency
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Speaker 1: 00:00:00 Welcome, to Working Women’s Wealth where we discuss what it takes to build real wealth in a way normal humans can understand. Here’s your host, Lisa Linfield.
Lisa Linfield: 00:00:10 Today I’m by Jain McGuigan. She’s one of those amazing [inaudible 00:00:26] entrepreneurs that I’ve always looked up to and thought, “When I grow big and have my own business I’m going to be like Jainie, and today with because we have Janie in the house with us.
Jain McGuigan: 00:00:36 Hi everybody.
Lisa Linfield: 00:00:37 Welcome Jain, and thank you for joining us in Working Women’s Wealth because, for many of us, we’re not entrepreneurs. We don’t see ourselves as entrepreneurs or have never really considered the option of having a second income in a business that might not be our first and primary presence. We might be corporate workers. I was wondering, what made step out and start your own business?
Jain McGuigan: 00:01:04 Well, to be perfectly honest a 22-year-old project manager. I was working in a nice corporate job, I probably should’ve known that being an entrepreneur was in my blood because I’ve always worked in startup companies. I’ve always worked with entrepreneurs and I’ve always helped them build their businesses. I wasn’t somebody who would dwell in the corporate structure and the red tape and that type of environment, but when I first started my business I never ever considered myself an entrepreneur.
People used to bandy around the entrepreneur word and I used go, “But that’s not really me.” Because in my head, an entrepreneur is somebody who has had a drive within them their whole lives to start their own business and like many small business owners, I didn’t start with that overwhelming drive to run my own business. I started my business because the working environment that I was in became an environment that I didn’t like.
For me, I’ve got experience over six or seven different careers all within the design and marketing space and I couldn’t find a job that let me do everything. When you’re in a corporate world they want, if you are the digital marketing manager, they want you just to do digital marketing. However, I like doing events and I like doing clothing and I like doing branding, and so, in that arena, I couldn’t find a job that said, “Yes, you may be more than just one thing.”
That’s when I started my own company because it gave me the freedom to do more than one thing and I actually, I started reading more as a freelancer. I didn’t ever get to the point where I thought I was going to have staff or I was going to have a team behind me. I started as a consultant, and then, realized that I might need some help.
Getting help is quite a big step for an entrepreneur because that challenge about it is the revenue you’re earning is what gets to put your own feet on the table, and now, you think you might need help but that means that your feet on your table might get less. Yes, and help was really in the form of I am not an administrator. I do not do well with operational and administrative tasks.
I am very much a, I’m incredibly … Well, I like to believe I’m good at sales. I’ve been told I’m good at sales. I thoroughly enjoy it, and in terms of sales and strategy and marketing and creativity that’s where I really enjoy. Getting invoicing done, not so much. It was a choice at that stage between looking at a bookkeeping firm or an accountant or getting a supplier on board that wasn’t necessarily a full-time employee or looking at a partnership agreement with somebody who did like doing that stuff.
I was very, very fortunate that at that stage my sister also wanted to move out of the corporate world into her own company space and she loves invoicing. It’s her favorite pastime. She very quickly joined me in the business to take care of making sure that I had some actual money in my bank account [inaudible 00:04:46] my plate because it’s all gone well, doing all the work if you’re not taking care of the actual business and management side of things. You may as well go back to being a nice corporate.
Lisa Linfield: 00:04:56 How did you build your clients?
Jain McGuigan: 00:04:59 Strangely, I built my clients through the small business form actually, which was my second business that I started. Well, it started as a club and has become a business and I realized that when I was looking around that they weren’t, it wasn’t access information for small business owners. Everybody speaks to entrepreneurs and they speak to those unicorns who did exactly that, those dreams about starting a business their whole lives. They build up this amazing piece of tech and Facebook and all the rest of it, and then, sell it for 45 billion US dollars.
I found that there wasn’t much information for me who exactly that. I started my business because I felt I had to. I didn’t really have a choice. When I started looking around and I started this little club and this little group of like-minded people, 10 years later we realized there’s 2 and a half thousand of us who are, still feel that the difference between a small business owner and an entrepreneur and by when I say that I don’t mean any disrespect to small business owners. They’re incredibly, incredibly powerful group and 99% of them eventually … Well, in some cases very quickly grow into being entrepreneurs.
It’s like the small business owner once that door is open they very quickly evolve into becoming entrepreneurs because they get that entrepreneurial bug.
Lisa Linfield: 00:06:36 What’s the difference for you?
Jain McGuigan: 00:06:38 For me, it’s how you see the world thing and it’s hard to verbalize because once you start something and you realize that it’s working, it’s very difficult to stop, start 10 things and it is. It’s being in that space where you’ve opened that door and funny enough, I was talking to one of my members recently who’s started their own business about there to four months ago.
She was leaving the corporate world and she was absolutely terrified that she wasn’t going to find work and how was she going to get things done and she’d been working in a freelance space for about six months and she didn’t believe that by testing the market that way that she was going to get enough work. I said to her sometimes you actually have to commit. People are not going to give you work until such time as you really open that door and you walk through it and that you have to have faith that when you open that door and put yourself out there that people will, they will give you the work but you have to be 100% in it before that happens.
By putting yourself 100% in that space, you do realize, and sometimes those different ideas are brought to you by a client who says, “I love the fact that you do websites but will you also do my corporate event or will you also do my clothing range or will …” Those opportunities are often opened as you figure your way out into the world.
I mean, I started an events company. I don’t have an events company anymore, I have a marketing agency so sometimes the business that you start is not always the business you end up with, and that I think is just part of entrepreneurial growth.
Lisa Linfield: 00:08:31 These days they you that fancy would pivot, how did you pivot from an events company into marketing? Was it through your clients or was it-
Jain McGuigan: 00:08:40 Initially it was where the market went. As I said I’m very fortunate that because of the diverseness, my mother calls it lack of attention span but the diverseness of my experience before I started my own business. I can build a website. I come from a graphic design and a fashion design background so that experience is there. To me, doing an event for 1500 people is not that much different to planning a dinner party in your house for 20. It’s just there’s more stuff to get done.
I think in … Where that happened is because I had the knowledge within me to do those things. When somebody points you in that direction that is where I went from a revenue-generating perspective because, in the beginning, it was I need clients and I need to make money. Yes, I don’t necessarily want to do magazine work but I can and it will earn me an income.
That first pivot allowed me the opportunity to then grow into what I actually wanted to do. Yes, the first challenge was to get some clients and to get some work behind me and after that, it then gave me the opportunity to go, right, okay, this is what I want to do. I’m now in the position where I can go and source those clients or I can grow these clients into the direction that I want to do.
In a lot of cases where I started with a client building their website, we’ve grown them into a marketing retainer because these days in the marketing arena, you can’t just build a website and hope for the best so that, by the nature of the industry, it allowed me to push the direction of the business where I wanted it to be but some, yes, also a little bit of age a little bit of time.
Lisa Linfield: 00:10:46 From your marketing business now what are you doing?
Jain McGuigan: 00:10:50 From the marketing business as I said the first mix business I opened and was the small business form. It started as club and what happened there was that actually brought me my first marketing clients because with either small businesses need, one of the biggest challenges for small business owners is marketing services. Marketing services, financial support, and networking opportunities, they actually want to engage and meet with other small business owners so that, because in a lot of cases we happy to work with other small businesses.
By being able to offer those services the club grew organically and through building a website platform which is an online publication with things I’ve learned and information that I found that was helpful to me and my business and putting it in one space, we slowly but surely grew the membership and in turn, those businesses became some of my first clients. Then, we started also developing packages that are specific to small businesses.
For example, you could have your website, your business card, and your letterhead design for X and it was a small business starter kit [inaudible 00:12:14] for a better way of putting it. Those two businesses were very well aligned, and then, we started hosting face-to-face events because the industry asked for it. We have monthly networking events where we get together and have a chat in this a bit like group therapy for small business practice. We all get together [inaudible 00:12:35] as a group.
I suppose that nurturing support side has always been part of, marketing in some ways is helping businesses understand their challenges and gain access to their market. Ultimately, that’s what my job is. Doing that in a small business arena, they are kind of aligned although they don’t look much aligned.
Lisa Linfield: 00:13:08 I think they’re very aligned and I think it’s a great symbiotic, problem-solving does lead you to be able to create solutions. I was listening to a podcast the other day which said, “Don’t think that entrepreneurship is I want to grow up and be something. You need to think of entrepreneurship as what problem am I struggling with and if I’m struggling with it, someone else is struggling with it, so how do I use it as an opportunity to then create a new business?”
Which I thought was a very unique view of the world because we all think that you, as you said, you grow up wanting to be this thing and you must do what you’re passionate about all of this, but actually solving problems, if you’re having it, there’s more than likely that someone else is having it. Then, you saw the opportunity in that to create an events-
Jain McGuigan: 00:13:56 Yes.
Lisa Linfield: 00:13:57 … location business.
Jain McGuigan: 00:14:00 As I say, when I first started the idea was to have an events company and as you said that came out of exactly that. A problem that I didn’t believe there was at the time a solution to, and that was … I think it was, when was it? 2010, when was all that dreadful load shitting, that first round? I can’t remember the exact time but … Actually, it must be pre-2010 because we bought the house in 2008 so it must have been 2007, 2006 around there when we had, we’re having all those first really big round of load shedding.
I was running events with a company that I currently work for at the time, and some I remember we were standing in … I think it was the Hilton Hotel, if I remember correctly, and they came through [inaudible 00:14:53] and they said, “Track everybody. This load shitting is, we’re due at 10:00. Please, don’t panic. The generator will kick in in 30 seconds, but we’re just warning you this is going to happen.
We’re standing in the networking area and it’s in the middle of tea and suddenly the lights go out and it is so black, I cannot see my hand in front of my face, and some poor woman is in the middle of pouring coffee from an [inaudible 00:15:19] as soon as it goes dark like that you totally forget every basic human thing about you, and the lights kicked on straightaway and I looked around and I suddenly realize that I was in a room with not a single drop of natural air, no natural light, no naturally air.
I’m asking these people to spend a day in this environment and think about strategy and be involved and be creative and you’re just in the most soulless fake environments and how did you do that? I started looking for venues where you got a little bit of light and you got an environment that’s actually quite pleasant that people want to be in. Of course, at that stage, they were all out [inaudible 00:16:03]. Beautiful venues, miles away.
I started looking for that type of environment in Johannesburg. We were very fortunate that my mother spent a long time with the property industry, and one of her old colleagues [inaudible 00:16:20] and said, “I’ve got this house that I need you to come and have a look at.” It just so happened that it is the most perfect house that was ever built. It’s [inaudible 00:16:32] property and it is based in Waverley, which is 15 minutes from the airport, 5 minutes from [inaudible 00:16:39] and 10 minutes … Well, sorry. 5 minutes from [inaudible 00:16:42] and 10 minutes from [inaudible 00:16:44].
We were very, very lucky that’s it was just, its location, the universe smiled on us and we were in the position to buy it and we had to sit on it for about a year while we got the business rights, and then, turned it into a conference venue, which is called Campbell House, which has been a very, very lovely successful little business for 10 years now.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:07 Wow.
Jain McGuigan: 00:17:07 Well, almost 10 years now.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:08 We’re on three businesses, and then-
Jain McGuigan: 00:17:12 We’re on three businesses.
Lisa Linfield: 00:17:13 … your next one?
Jain McGuigan: 00:17:16 As it turned out my sister who has been my business partner up until now, she was offered an incredible opportunity to go and run an organization, which she’s incredibly passionate about called Ntataise, which is raising, to lead the child by the hand. It’s basically it’s an early childhood development project and she really, really, it’s where her heart is.
What I was finding is that I needed a little bit more input from a business partner at that stage, and she, her heart was just with the children and a free state. What we did is we separated out the businesses. My sister continues to run Campbell House, which is the events venue and she’s now taken over from the founder of Ntataise as director full-time.
I then merged with a, who’d been a supplier, business partner, colleague for a while, a gentleman named Liam, and we started, we merged to become Refract and we named it Refract because I couldn’t ask three boys in a development team to be called Chocolate Shoebox. They’re just, they’re like, “We’re all in this but the names got to go.”
We became Refract Marketing and that team is now 10 people, and from that, out of that synergy, weirdly the fashion industry then two years on came knocking on our door again, which surprised me a lot and the marketing world as we know it has changed and shifted so much, particularly with social media and digital media and all of those things coming in. The industry has moved a lot and as small business owners, well, in this case, I think I’ve graduated to entrepreneur, we move and shift with it.
Liam has always had this, I don’t know why, this yearning somewhere in him to have a product-based business, a thing that he can hold and sell as opposed to a service related business. Anyways, long story short, in the strangest form, the fashion industry came knocking on our door. An old colleague of ours that I’ve worked with in the marketing space for some time, I went to, we were at a business function and we meet up with one of his colleagues who was involved in [inaudible 00:20:03] and we were introduced and he ran, he had taken over as the corporate social investments head of the mind community-based projects.
He had a couple of sewing projects there that we’re not doing particularly well. As Mark knew that I came from the fashion industry millenniums ago and I’ve worked in factories and had experience from working in Miladys and starting [inaudible 00:20:33] and all of those type things. [inaudible 00:20:36], anyway, conversation strikes up and at that stage, my best friend from [inaudible 00:20:44] had just moved up to Johannesburg and where we meet was in fashion school, and we were both at this function and we started chatting about this project.
He phoned us up the next day and said, “Would you please come and run this?” We were like, “No. Absolutely not.” I think when the fashion industry closed down 20 years ago, we both lifted with quite a series of [inaudible 00:21:12]. It wasn’t, I think everybody who left the fashion industry at that time was a bit crushed by it. It was one of those industries of great love that I said a very sad goodbye to and vowed to never let it hurt me again as they say.
Anyways, so six months later after continually asking and asking and asking, we said, “Okay. We’ll come and look at the project.” We went out to Western Area out to [inaudible 00:21:43], which sadly at the moment is just closing down and had a look at the project and realized that there was a great need in this particular situation for these ladies to actually get some proper help.
We decided to take on the project, at the time, [inaudible 00:22:02] was also freelancing, consulting in her, the company, the perfume company, which she had a fair amount of free time so she dedicated a number of hours to go down and teach these ladies some sewing skills. One of the things that they tasked us with was to try and find sustainability for this particular sewing project. One of the ways that we do that is we picked up the phone to, all of our old contacts who was still in the clothing industry and said, “We’ve got this factory with these 20 ladies who were sewing, is there anything that you need made?”
We realize that the demand in the industry was enormous for local manufacturing. The climate have changed slightly. People were looking to bring manufacturing back from China, the Chinese subsidies had gone up by 35%, so there was a whole lot of things that made people once stop bringing manufacturing back to a local environment, and they were struggling to find quality manufacturing.
As it turns out [inaudible 00:23:12] had bigger troubles than we thought at the time, which we have now realize because they’ve just closed. The [inaudible 00:23:19] shop as well. They are pulling out of the Western Area as a whole and sadly the project was, they were moved to their … Actually, I think they were sold [inaudible 00:23:33] and they’ve taken ownership of this sewing project so the ladies very fortunately still have jobs but our work there was done as they say.
However, we were now sitting with the situation where we’ve got 20 people in the industry going, “Please make my clothes.” We decided to start a clothing company, which we started a clothing factory. We bought some machines and that has also pivoted quite substantially, by the way, the market has moved. PearZoo Clothing is now I think … Oh, it’s baby. I think it’s about 18 months old and from starting as a CMT, it has moved very much into a design incubator because one of the things that we’ve realized is like in exactly the same environment as the small business forum, designers are all just small business owners but with completely different environment because it’s a creative environment.
They’ve all sort of aligned themselves, these businesses that, yes, it’s working out to be sort of more a design incubator where we actually helped put young designers into the market as opposed to do huge runs of manufacturing for retail brands, so that’s where we are at the moment.
Lisa Linfield: 00:25:01 Isn’t amazing that sometimes doors open when you’re going out to serve others? You got to serve the ladies in the [inaudible 00:25:11] and you end up with a CMT business that is transforming to solve more problems of entrepreneurs, and I think that’s one of the things that is definitely a huge passion of mine is that for all of us, we have talents and we almost have an obligation to give back, but the thing about giving back is that 9 out of 10 times actually it benefits you more than it benefits those people.
I held a course last week for 10 women that earn less than 10,000, and so, they are helpers in home environments and I did it because it’s a philanthropy initiative of my business, which is to help women that earn less than 10,000 rand so I did it to serve others and I walked away feeling such a high that I felt it was almost wrong that I should feel so good if I was helping someone else. I had a bounce in my step. I had energy. I had rejuvenation and it was fantastic.
I’ll continue to do this and I have no idea where it will lead me or what it will do but the point being if you take your skills to go and help other people, it’s amazing not only that you feel better but that it, that in your case, an entire business was born out of it.
Jain McGuigan: 00:26:31 Yeah. I think for me, what I have realized is that in some, that helping others is actually a huge part of … Obviously, some part of my make up, and simply from what I find and really is working with entrepreneurs and small business owners is incredibly, incredibly rewarding. Particularly, in the design space.
It’s unbelievably scary to start your own business. You are alone. There is no one around you. I am brainstorming with the cat and I did. I used to go alone to all these amazing events where, no offense a lot of them are helped by the banking industry and listen to these talks and events and tell me how to run my business and how to manage my cash flow and how to save and how to invest and all the things that you have actually helped me with, and you’d stand there and I’d eventually put up my hand and go, “Thank you, Mr. Speaker, that was a wonderful presentation. How small businesses have you started?”
Only to find that they work in a corporate environment and they are there as a corporate speaker from the banking and the finance world and they just have no idea. They really don’t. Until such time as you have walked a day in my shoes where I don’t know how I’m going to pay my stuff at the end of the month and I am now sitting in front of you and you are telling me that my bank rating is a four or however those numbers and weird things are worked out and it just … The disconnect in my opinion between entrepreneurs and the avenues of access to funding and to money and to bridging finance and all of those things, it is one of those things that I spend a lot of time in the small business world consulting on finding ways around … I love that my cash flow system is called my credit card, which is really not ideal in terms of a small business world and that’s why I’m so glad that these people like you doing what you doing because it is actually practical things that people can do.
Unfortunately, like I say some of those doors are opening with crowdfunding and all of the [inaudible 00:29:15] exactly that. Somebody like you and I stood there and went, “I have a problem. I have access to funding. What am I going to do?” “Oh, look, I can build a website and I can get five grand from everybody and ask them to invest in my business.” That’s how they look to the banking world and went, “Oh, well, instead of crowdfunding to, from every very person who owns a bank account we’ll do it in a different way.”
Yeah. I think it’s, that helping and nurturing that is always … I think it’s part of every entrepreneur. I think in some ways it’s, like you say most entrepreneurs sort of went, “If I’m having this problem somebody else must be.”
Lisa Linfield: 00:29:57 Absolutely. Besides access to funding, what are the major financial issues?
Jain McGuigan: 00:30:09 I think it’s the traditional funding channels are so misaligned in my opinion with entrepreneurship and business growth, which I think is one of the really big challenges that I find is that a lot of your investors and your funding avenues and don’t get me wrong, this is not a bashing situation with them because we need them, we really do, but I wish they would just take better care of the person who built the business and put structures in place to help them grow because the problem comes in is that, what I find is that those traditional channels are so focused on revenue, they are so focused on returns, which I understand. They are there to make money. But you can’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
I mean, yes, a lot of people want to sell their business. They want to make 30 million of it and they want to walk away, and go, “Bye.” But to invest in a business where, which is a beautiful growing wonderful thing and make everything that, my every waking moment now is, “Oh, I’ve got to get these people returns. I’ve got to get these people returns. I’ve got to get them their money back.” Completely handicaps any entrepreneur from actually doing what they set out to do, which build a beautiful business in whatever field, whether it be events, whether it be in finance, whether it be in marketing.
Yes, there are some investors who, they do put instructors and they do focus on business management but it’s never really 100% and I’m not suggesting that philanthropy and throw money at problems and those type of things but there’s got to be a better way of doing this and I don’t know what the answer to that way is yet and I say yet but I know there is a better way of doing this. There has got to be.
Lisa Linfield: 00:32:20 There’s a book that I love by Thomas Stanley called The Millionaire Next Door and he was commissioned by all these money private banks in America, and he was asked to look into and research wealthy people, and the terms that he found is that you actually only know a person’s wealth when they die because wealth, as they say, is not revenue, its assets, and people hold various different assets, so you could be asset rich but your cash flow is shut because you’ve got [crosstalk 00:32:53]
One of the challenges that he, or where he started was he looked at estates when people die so that he could see the whole picture, and he worked out that you are most likely to be a dollar millionaire if you had your own business, lived in a, not upmarket neighborhood, you were and actual fact six times wealthier than your next-door neighbor but nobody would ever have guessed it because you drive a normal little car and the challenge is all of your money is in your assets and much of your money is in your business and only a small amount is in a retirement funding or vehicles that the bank actually sees.
His whole thing was if you wanted to be, if you wanted to stand a greater chance of being wealthy, you needed to have your own business, and then, invest in your own business and as entrepreneurs, they draw down a very salary. It’s usually 6% of their wealth, and so, they draw the small salary, the bank looks at them and goes, “You don’t own that much, you live in not such a great neighborhood.” But the reality is this asset that you’re building or investing in grows all the time and keeps growing and in my view, it takes eight years to get a business to be up to speed.
I found it extremely difficult because I’ve stayed from working in banks and wealth management businesses, so I’ve stayed from being on the one side of the fence to being on the other side of the fence, and whereas the private banks were knocking on my door to have me as their client, now they trying to help me so long as my husband will underwrite me with his salary and, which that is completely bizarre in my mind and they won’t lend to me and I know how their lending models work so intellectually I understand why they weren’t lending to me, but practically I don’t because I was looking to buy a business. I had all of the funds available.
In fact, I could transfer the exact same amount of money that I was going to borrow, I could transfer into a holding account, the only reason why I wanted to borrow was because I know that as the way the banking system works, you need a credit record and they knock you as a person, you as a business. Your business name now needs a credit record, which it doesn’t have. I was wanting to borrow money for the sole reason of starting to build a credit record so that when I needed more money, I would have a credit record proven, and they wouldn’t even lend me the money when I had the exact same amount of money and assets globally, locally, assets everywhere that could back this tiny little loan and they still wouldn’t lend to me because I had no credit record, I had no track record, and I was thinking one year ago you knock on my door and this year you won’t lend to me and it’s quite an interesting challenge that people face.
Jain McGuigan: 00:35:41 I mean, firstly, nobody tells you about all of that information. Nobody tells you that your business needs a credit that’s different to you and there is, the banking world and I think I speak particularly from personal experience in that, and that’s why you and I have had the conversations that we’ve had in the past around money and wealth and things. I find the challenge is that as an entrepreneur and as a business owner who does not have any financial understanding at all, I mean, sadly, and I wish they weren’t. It’s one of the things that I’m really working on changing but nobody seems to be listening, is in the creative industries is to actually force students to have more business acumen to do … I’m sorry, but one semester in business economics in third year is really not good enough in terms of being able to run and manage your business.
Particularly, in the design world. You are sending designers out to be entrepreneurs. It is the only option if they want to stay in design. Yes, graphic design and those type of formal formula [inaudible 00:37:11] are very different but particularly what I found in fashion design is you are literally being groomed to be the next, you’re being told you’re going to be the next [inaudible 00:37:21].
You’re going to run your own business, you’re going to be around brand, you’re going to pioneer the world and you get, if you’re lucky three months on marketing course in your final semester of third year and maybe some business economics and no basic accounting, no nothing that actually prepares you to run a business, and then, they’re wondering why none of these kids are making it.
From that, and I digress a lot but to put where is that information that tells people how to do this, and that’s why I’m so glad that you’re doing what you’re doing because where is that stuff? Nobody tells … Where am I supposed to learn that?
Lisa Linfield: 00:38:05 Absolutely, and it’s not just you kids leaving varsity, for all of us that have come from a corporate world, cash flow was never a worry because the big company has all the money in the world, so if you want to spend, you spend.
Jain McGuigan: 00:38:19 Somebody else pays your tax.
Lisa Linfield: 00:38:20 Absolutely.
Jain McGuigan: 00:38:21 What’s a tax return again?
Lisa Linfield: 00:38:22 Absolutely. It’s all these practical things that you sit there and you go cash flow, my goodness. I mean, it rules the world let alone it’s a minor element in the corporate and you never do cash flows because the Finance Department is doing that. You just do your business case and a proposal and off you go and there you have it.
Jain McGuigan: 00:38:39 Somebody tells you if you’ve got a budget or you don’t.
Lisa Linfield: 00:38:42 Absolutely. Whereas when you’re doing it there’s this when do I make the decision to invest in my business? How do I do this stuff? Who do I use to be my bookkeeper? Do I need a bookkeeper? Can I just go and be, fill out my own books? Why not? All of these questions that [crosstalk 00:39:01]
Jain McGuigan: 00:39:01 … they will audit you.
Lisa Linfield: 00:39:05 That’s exactly.
Jain McGuigan: 00:39:05 Never do your own tax returns [inaudible 00:39:08] will audit you.
Lisa Linfield: 00:39:10 That’s exactly the challenge but then where do I go to find these things? One of the questions I sometimes wonder is even if they were to give you the training, would it actually land on fertile soil? Because right now when I’m a third-year student, all I want to do is [inaudible 00:39:27], all I want to do is draw pictures.
Jain McGuigan: 00:39:29 Then, make these courses on a Friday afternoon. Do you know how hard it is to persuade a third-year student to stay in class on a Friday afternoon for business economics?
Lisa Linfield: 00:39:37 Exactly. Exactly. One of the things in terms of cash flow that kind of has become a big thing as I started to do my own business is the fact of this whole thing of focus on revenue-generating business, because I always saw myself as a good financial corporate person. These entrepreneurs are all over the place. They cannot have a conversation with you without six ideas pouring out and you want [crosstalk 00:40:01] them, “Could you please focus on one of them and make it work?” Because that’s what your job as a leader in a business.
I ran lots of people and lots of money and my job was to prioritize. The definition of strategy is to prioritize your time, your resources, and your money, so that was what my job was. My job was to make the decisions that keep my team focused going in a direction and actually delivering. Then, you talk to these entrepreneurs and we couldn’t even finish a sentence with six ideas coming and you want to say, “If you’re going to be successful, you need to prioritize your time, your resources, and your money.”
Now, a couple of months down the line in my own business, I find myself having to say to myself every single morning focus on your revenue-generating business, focus [inaudible 00:40:50] my shiny idea just around the corner and it’s quite an interesting thing in terms of the fact that the biggest thing to focus now on my revenue-generating business is looking at my bank statement every week, and I have forced myself into the discipline of every single week I spent an hour categorizing all of my expenses in my Excel spreadsheet, not because I actually want to but because I need the discipline because after I do that exercise it’s really easy to focus on my revenue-generating business because my minuses are bigger than my pluses by a long way at this stage of a startup business.
The cash that I had saved away from my little business is depleting rapidly as one might say. But one of the lessons that I try and say to everyone, entrepreneur or corporate is there are always ways in this modern digital world to make money. I think the old days, pre-internet, the schooling system the world seem to favor the maths people, whereas I think the new day is going forward. The world favors the creative person because everyone needs a blog, picture done. Everyone needs a logo, everyone needs a something.
The world seems to favor the creative person but even still, there is the ability on the internet to freelance in any element whatsoever, and one of the advice that I gave to people is if you are struggling to make ends meet or if you’re not yet able to save and save towards your retirement, you need to wake up an hour earlier or switch off your television and make some money. It doesn’t matter how much your income is. If you’re not managing to do that thing of providing for your future or even as entrepreneurs, making your minuses equal your pluses, then you need to actually get up early and make some more money.
Jain McGuigan: 00:42:36 Yes. You gave me that advice and you will be pleased to know my television is off, which firstly is thanks to [inaudible 00:42:45] 980 rand saved into the bank account-
Lisa Linfield: 00:42:49 Every single month.
Jain McGuigan: 00:42:49 Every single month but also we’re … I mean, as you say that ATM mark really is for businesses. That’s where we realized the turn off, yes, we are onto something here and it’s been with every business and what I have done. I’ve started another business, which is always means I’m always in cash flow challenges and it is. We started this looking through this on your recommendation and there is an amazing opportunity out there, and particularly, fortunately, with my skills to do freelance work.
The unusual thing is, is exactly this environment is one of the reasons that our marketing company has shifted so much is because you’ve got a situation where now every single person can work from home and be their own boss, and I don’t actually have to employ a marketing company to do my presentation, I’m going to drop a request onto a freelance platform and make everybody bid for it.
I’m going to get the best rate as well. I’m going to get my presentation done beautifully, hopefully, on time and stuff, and there is this barrier of a company that’s governing, the deposit gets paid and actually vetting these people and making sure there is a portfolio update so that was the one shift, which is weird because it’s affected my, one of my businesses or is, it hasn’t really but it is going to in the future greatly affect how we hire a workforce as an organization, which is, in some cases, is quite nice because I don’t have to employ a full-time workforce.
In other cases, it makes your potential market a lot more fluid, and but, yes. It does has also … I mean, at the moment, usability testing for websites, $10 website to answer 5 questions. Amazing.
Lisa Linfield: 00:44:57 Absolutely.
Jain McGuigan: 00:44:59 The unusual thing is, is exactly that, when you say to me, how badly do you want it? I went home and thought about it and went [inaudible 00:45:06] and for me, it’s also not just, one it’s cash flow for my business but two, I have to go to Greece. I know, incredibly hard, in June next year. I’ve been given an amazing opportunity. One that’s in conjunction with a buying trip for work, and two, also a friend of ours for her birthday has invited us over to their house to say the only thing you need to do is pay for your flights.
Now, that is an opportunity you cannot pass up. It was. It was how badly do you want it and, hence, for somebody very, very, very smart turn your TV off so I did and, yeah. That’s [crosstalk 00:45:46]
Lisa Linfield: 00:45:45 How much do you think you’re going to make a month?
Jain McGuigan: 00:45:47 At the moment, we’ve done the math and I am going to, in my capacity, if I work an hour day doing the things that I’ve got outlined, 8400 rand per month.
Lisa Linfield: 00:46:01 That’s a nice trip to Greece.
Jain McGuigan: 00:46:03 That’s a very nice trip to Greece.
Lisa Linfield: 00:46:03 Absolutely.
Jain McGuigan: 00:46:05 In seven months time, give or take the exchange rate and the taxes and things that, the PayPals and all of that, charge and stuff, but that’s a good 50 to 60,000 rand holiday.
Lisa Linfield: 00:46:20 That’s very nice.
Jain McGuigan: 00:46:21 That will buy us some wine. [crosstalk 00:46:23]
Lisa Linfield: 00:46:23 One bottle of wine will do.
Jain McGuigan: 00:46:23 One bottle of wine.
Lisa Linfield: 00:46:24 Only one. Absolutely, and I guess that’s kind of the thing is that in my view it doesn’t matter how many businesses you have or how successful your, if you want to do that extra holiday, you got to kind of suck it up and put in that extra hour a day and you make that a little bit of money. But it was so interesting listening to you talking about the impact of these new platforms on your workforce and on your world, and one of the reflections that I’ve had is that the ability to get a global workforce is going to take out the entry-level work in any company because you can.
I remember, I was given a piece of advice or read somewhere when I was still doing strategy in one of the businesses I was working in that you can’t do strategy on this changing environment without having experienced it. I was heavily in corporate but I was, I had this thing in my mind that I wanted to start my wealth business, Southern Pride Wealth, and so, I went onto 99designs.com and I organized a bid for a logo for my business. The model of 99 Designs had subsequently changed but at that time I put this bid out and basically you only pay on the end level of success.
I had 17 designers for 3 days doing designs and it was a very open platform. I would say I don’t like font with feet and they would say, and then, all the other designers would know from then onwards, don’t give me a logo with font with feet on it. Then, someone would come up with some weird color and I said, “I don’t like that color.” This almost collaborative design process between these 18 people who range from being in Turkey, Bucharest, Philippines, everywhere on the world ended up and that I got a great logo and color pallet and everything for my company.
I remember reflecting deeply on it because at the time I ran a marketing team and my marketing team were quite worried about it because they said, “Well, it puts us out of business going forward.” I reflected deeply on it and my, the conclusion I came to was, “No. What it does is moves you up in the sophistication scale. That the lower sophistication stuff that is purely transactional can absolutely be done and outsourced anywhere in the world but it moves you up.”
In my industry, they said that Robo Advice, these online things that tell you where you should invest and what you should do is going to overtake the world. Well, a couple of years later the Robo-advisers are all being bought by advice, human advisers because what they did bring is beautiful visualization of someone’s finances. What they didn’t bring is the realization that money is 98% human behavior and only 2% what a robot can do.
Yes, entry-level stuff there is a successful platform called Nutmeg in the United Kingdom but its average value is 5000 pounds. It can do the entry-level, simple investing. What it can’t do is tell you whether that is a good use for you as a human being or for your business that’s going through cash flow issues or anything else because they’re more complex work is what will remain, whereas the entry-level work is what will be commissioned.
Jain McGuigan: 00:49:45 On the flip side of that is what it does do is [inaudible 00:49:48] hundreds of companies like mine on these platforms, they’re very happy to have you there as a business. They’ve got no problem saying, “You’re a marketing agency, fantastic.” It gives you global clients, global market, money coming in from other countries. The number of people who are growing these small businesses through this challenge, I mean, platforms is huge.
Yes, it gives you personally the ability to earn extra money is if we, we’ve all known every developer in the world, every web developer has always done a gig on the side since the birth of the internet in this country. Every developer’s doing his friend’s website or his cousin’s website on the weekends and as websites and the need for marketing input in websites has gotten more sophisticated and, yes. People start seeking out marketing agencies in that but every developer has got some gig on the side that he is working on a mobile app or something.
I just think in a lot of ways, it opens up so many doors. In some ways, it does. It just means that you need to be ready to pivot because exactly that. Your environment is going to change. There is technology that is going to disrupt it at every turn, and as an entrepreneur, a small business owner the ability to swing with the market is what saves your company and allows growth.
In my industry you see huge companies crumbling and I mean literally overnight because one client has [inaudible 00:51:36] and you’ve got 150 people who are employed for that 1 client, and the following day those 150 people are retrenched. Those big agencies they don’t have the ability to move with the market. I mean, they still don’t understand digital properly. Bless them.
Lisa Linfield: 00:51:56 Absolutely. I think that’s, it counts back to us [inaudible 00:51:59] all of us should have some [crosstalk 00:52:00] on the side.
Jain McGuigan: 00:52:01 When I was a good corporate girl, it wouldn’t even cross my mind because I work 12, 14, 16 hours a day for a corporate and it was completely consuming. As I started stepping into this entrepreneurial world, it amazed me when I was saying to people, “No. I’m transitioning out. I’m only working half day. I’m starting my business for the other half day.” They’d say, “Oh, well, I have a furniture shop that does imports Chinese kitchens, kitchen cabinets.”
I think, “How did I never know this?” Literally colleagues everywhere would say, tell me about their other businesses going on the side and I kept thinking where was I for 19 years that everyone else has got the memo that you need a second business or a second, doing usability testing in the morning or afternoon or whatever it is, a second source of income and everyone seems to have that.
Then, I worked out that they’re only working the eight hours they are paid to work by a corporate, and then, in those other hours that I’m still working for the corporate, they’re actually investing in their future because the reality is no job is safe in this day and age.
Lisa Linfield: 00:53:02 Also, the reality is, is that exactly that of as a small business owner, you’re often not in the position to give your stuff pension plans and those types of things. If you do, you’re the last person to take out of your business in any shape manner or form. I’m the last person to get medical aid, I’m the last person to get retired. My retirement annuity is a bricks and mortar house down the road that thank heavens it’s apparently been valued [inaudible 00:53:30] money, which hopefully will be paid off pretty soon and that’s my retirement plan at the moment.
But these opportunities, they do. They give you the ability to, and, yes. I mean, people … I consider myself finally at the ripe old age of 40, successful. I think I have earned my stripes and I am secure in my entrepreneurial nature and my business owner space. That by mother nature of who I am, I’m pretty sure this is not the last business I will start and there’s always going to be that time when you go from 100,000 rand a month salary down to a 15,000 rand month salary and that’s a big chunk of change so the first bit of those savings and things bootstrap the next business and you learn to, which is not actually a bad thing.
You learn to consolidate your life down into a small environment, you learn what is important too, you learn you can drive the same car for five years and, actually, you know what? When I’m, now that I’m earning money again, I will actually continue to drive that same car because it’s a perfectly good little car and I do is, being an entrepreneur it certainly gives you a unique perspective of money.
I do. I look at some of my friends where they’ve fallen out of the corporate world and are so ill-equipped on how to earn themselves a living. I know that if the world drops out tomorrow, I can earn money. I can make money. I can take care of myself and I can take care of my family just from having been in that hassle survival place for that level of time.
I don’t think there’s many of my corporate friends that can say that because they just, when we were younger and we were students, you were waitressing or you were dog walking or you were handing out fliers. There were a million things that you would do to make yourself some money because you have time and you still went to varsity all day but your parents funding if you got it or were lucky enough to have it were somewhat limited to your books and your requirements it does not include your pocket money.
You waitressed and you walked dogs and you delivered flowers and you did all those incredibly entrepreneurial ingenious things to find a way so that on Friday night, you could go out for drinks with your friends and we lose that when we get into corporate. That ability to earn ourselves.
Jain McGuigan: 00:56:19 It was fascinating for me when Don and I went from two large salaries and [inaudible 00:56:26] income and it was amazing how much we could cut costs because the challenge with income is that you always grow your expenses to fit it.
Lisa Linfield: 00:56:34 Completely. I can spend 100,000 rand a month like that.
Jain McGuigan: 00:56:37 Absolutely. That’s exactly and we always grow ourselves to fit what we have and the problem comes in trying to shrink it back down.
Lisa Linfield: 00:56:44 Down.
Jain McGuigan: 00:56:46 For me, I had a very clear vision. Actually, John and I both had this very clear vision of the business that we are creating and we always say that he is funding our current lifestyle and my business will fund our retirement or future lifestyle but we had to half our expenses and in the beginning, that was hard. We did cut the easy things first, and then, went, “Hmm. This isn’t going to work. Okay. We need to cut the rest.” We did the second set of cutting and we adjusted to that, but still, it wasn’t going to work.
Then, we did the third range of cutting and we rented out our weekends place and we always swore that we would never, over our dead bodies do that, and was like, “Well, at the moment the market [inaudible 00:57:37] we can’t sell it.”
Lisa Linfield: 00:57:36 How bad you want it?
Jain McGuigan: 00:57:36 Absolutely, and it comes back to that question of how badly do you want this vision of yours? What plan are you going to make? We couldn’t sell the thing where I don’t even think we would be able to give it away so we rented it out so that it covers its costs. It’s quite phenomenal how your mindset or the vision you have in your head determines your ability to do things that you thought you would never do.
We got rid of our car. We downsized to a little Honda jazz. We-
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:07 You realize you can dye your own hair.
Jain McGuigan: 00:58:10 You can.
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:11 You can paint your own nails.
Jain McGuigan: 00:58:13 You can paint your own nails.
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:14 That’s it’s possible.
Jain McGuigan: 00:58:15 It is.
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:15 It’s a thing.
Jain McGuigan: 00:58:18 As you say, and all the things that you thought, goodness gracious [inaudible 00:58:22]. Usability testing. Absolutely. I mean, you did usability testing a long time ago when you were there [inaudible 00:58:28]
Lisa Linfield: 00:58:29 Yes. Exactly. Exactly and it’s so simple and it’s so easy and it’s an hour day out of my life, and suddenly, everything is possible again. Suddenly, yes, the holiday is possible. Once that’s gone, “Oh, why stop now? Why not keep going?” Yes. I don’t care if the business by that stage, I mean, we’re in such a beautiful close tipping point is really starting to grow out of its first 18 months of teething problems and school fees.
Next year I’m incredibly positive about where the new business is going as much as I’m still excited about the old business because this is now also opened a whole lot of new clients because there’s a bunch people who came back to me and said, “Actually, we’d like you to do a public presentation.” I went, “Oh, dear. I’m going to need some help with this.” “Do you?”
It’s just thinking around that differently and I think where I’m so grateful that you inspired me to look at things in a different way, because you just, you do. I suppose you get in that hit space and you just, you can’t look up and you are stressed and unbelievably overwhelmed and you just, you do. You kind of go, “Oh, well, all hope is lost but I am unicorn. I will do this and I will stand up today and I will fight the good fight and I will fake it till I make it.”
That’s why it’s so important to have these conversations and connect with people in different platforms as well where somebody [inaudible 01:00:07] and you go, “There is. There is that.”
Jain McGuigan: 01:00:13 I can do it.
Lisa Linfield: 01:00:15 I can do it and it does. It just takes a little bit of going, “What? You know what? I’m actually going to do this.” I’m sorry, what pension plan or what savings plan doesn’t need 8-1/2 thousand rand a month?”
Jain McGuigan: 01:00:28 Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 01:00:29 Paid off. The possibilities are, and as I say sometimes we get so stuck in our rotten things we forget that as human beings we aren’t, ingenious ways of coming up with to make money are out there in the platforms are there so-
Jain McGuigan: 01:00:44 I think it brings us back to a small business forum and you said that the three functions that your small business forum or the three things that people who are starting up businesses struggle with is marketing, finance, and networking, and that networking piece of support for other people, I always … One of the opening, the very opening introduction to the [inaudible 01:01:09] asks the question of what happens if we’re not so unique?
We sit there talking to our cat thinking that this problem is unique to us, when in actual fact, we’re not so unique.
Lisa Linfield: 01:00:44 No we’re not.
Jain McGuigan: 01:01:22 There are many of us that are going through the same thing saying, “I had this amazing vision for teaching or taking accessible money, education to everybody but goodness I need to spend an hour a day doing usability because I don’t have the cash flow currently.” If you talk to other people you said [inaudible 01:01:40] whilst your building this great vision, how are you putting bread on the table and you end up finding great and other ideas and this networking opportunity that is provided by this small business up, with your small business matrix is phenomenal in that it helps to create a place of space where you can actually just go and speak to people. Yes, you can do these things online. It does provide a certain element of support.
Lisa Linfield: 01:02:07 It’s very different to face-to-face.
Jain McGuigan: 01:02:10 It is very different.
Lisa Linfield: 01:02:12 One of the things in this incredible digital world and it’s amazing, you can get paid $10 to text a website. It’s amazing stuff, but as human beings, we need other human beings and we need to stand in front of a human being and hold hands and sing kumbaya and go, “Me too.” The need to connect and the need to actually have a conversation and to understand somebody and we had one of events recently and we haven’t had one in a long time and because we haven’t had one in a while, because unfortunately, I’ve been a little bit busy doing other things.
You forget that incredible overwhelming sharing because as business owners, we do. We think, “Well, it’s my pie. I’m scared to share it because, ‘Oh, maybe he’ll try and steal my pie.'” That network it just doesn’t happen in small business world. It really doesn’t. It’s always a surprise to me every time it doesn’t happen. I mean, I’ve been doing this now for over 10 years. You would think that it would be this, but we do. We sit around and there’s always somebody, an idea of going, “Yeah …” We actually run business clinics where we literally, you come with a problem and my challenge today is cash flow and we sit around the table, there’s a bunch of small business owners who got nothing to do with my business and talk about ways to alleviate cash flows.
Jain McGuigan: 01:03:46 Absolutely, and the one other things that also happens face-to-face is that you might have a problem that you get solved in an online forum but when you’re face-to-face you listen to others problem and you realize that there’s solutions for things you don’t even know you’re struggling with, and it’s right out there.
Lisa Linfield: 01:04:04 A lot of times what I find happens more often than not is the problem that you think you have is not the actual problem.
Jain McGuigan: 01:04:12 Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 01:04:13 It’s so often, we find that they’ll come to us and go marketings or I need business finance. You don’t need business finance, you need a different strategy.
Jain McGuigan: 01:04:24 Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 01:04:25 It’s just so often that we will sit down as a group of small business owners and go, “Exactly what you …” When you and I had that breakfast, when you said to me, “How badly do you want to [inaudible 01:04:37]. Go and find ways to make money. You can do this.” It’s just somebody sparking that thought.
Jain McGuigan: 01:04:44 Yeah, because as great as the cat is he can’t talk back.
Lisa Linfield: 01:04:46 No. Exactly, and also that cat ideas [inaudible 01:04:50] five minutes to dinner time.
Jain McGuigan: 01:04:52 Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 01:04:54 My business partners Luna and Thomas are really more interested is there chicken for dinner.
Jain McGuigan: 01:04:58 Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lisa Linfield: 01:05:00 Jain, if you’re a small business owner and you want to join the small business, your small business forum, how do you do that?
Jain McGuigan: 01:05:07 Okay. We have a website on, is our sort of calling card. Its small business forum [inaudible 01:05:16] and there is a form there and you sign up. You literally join the group, and then, you’re in. Next year we are implementing a membership fee and the reason that we’re doing this is for a number of reasons. It’s opening up a lot of channels to small businesses that sadly some things need to be paid for, but what it’s going to do in terms of member benefits is hopefully, finance some of those challenges of exactly what people talk about.
Giving people access to marketing, giving people access to business tools, business services, those type of things, and all of these are going to be, I’m quite excited about next year to unveil. All of these are going to be sourced from the members themselves. You have an amazing financial strategy. The forum will, that membership will pay you to come and bring and deliver that service to other small business owners.
Not necessarily like an [inaudible 01:06:23] system but as a member who pays my membership, I have access to Lisa and her brilliant mind to give me advice on how badly do you want it. You’re still going to have to do a series of how badly do you want it.
Lisa Linfield: 01:06:35 How badly do you want it? Love it. Love it. Well, thanks so much, Jain, for coming and thank you for all of the stuff [crosstalk 01:06:42]
Jain McGuigan: 01:06:42 Thank you for having me.
Lisa Linfield: 01:06:43 It was wonderful. It was lovely to have you.
Jain McGuigan: 01:06:45 It was absolutely amazing and, yes. I really do … Your advice and things have been invaluable to me and I’m going to be following your podcast for a very, very long time.
Lisa Linfield: 01:06:54 Thank you and for those of you that want to listen to more inspiring people like Jain, we have the podcast available. Please subscribe and if you can, leave us a review because that helps it to rank higher up to allow other people to get to know the great conversations we’re having in this forum. Cheers.