Just to Keep You Coming Back

The pundits of blog-o-sphere insist one should keep updating one’s blog so people know it’s alive. Can be anything – a favorite poem, quote, some random trivia – that kinda crap. I have tried to resist that for a while but I am 2 hits away from 1000 hits – so what can a girl do but bow.

Posting an interview recorded by Thunderbird while we went on the famous Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona since I have nothing better. Here is to 1000 hits … yippeee …

Financial Literacy with the Co-Author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Gross Expenditure

Here is my understanding of these words before the Accounting class with Prof. Petersen and Sharon Lechter:
Assets = children, family – usually just children
Liabilities = poor relations (Charles Lamb, a tribute to you)
Revenue = something they talk about a lot on TV during budget time
Profit = when the bank gives me money at the end of the month on a saving certificate
Gross Expenditure = when you spend so much it’s disgusting

Errr … yep … that’s how bad I was. NO exaggerations here. As a VA or a businessowner you have to know your finances. No matter how scary they are – no matter how intimidating. But I have always been scared of numbers and fancy words that don’t do anything for my imagination. Then, Project Artemis and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program happened. Besides of course the wonderful classes we had with Prof. Peterson, one fine day, Sharon Lechter came to merely “talk” to us about something called Financial Literacy. And that’s what she did. She talked. To me, who was in morbid fear of anything to do with numbers (my 8-yrs old son has a tutor come in to teach him Math – I can’t – I am terrified of it), her words tried breaking the force-field I had made around my head and at times it even succeeded in penetrating through that barrier but I wasn’t ready to listen. Case in point, the pic below:

But she had me sit up and take notice. Tell me, has any of you run a straw, an ordinary plsatic drinking straw, right through a gigantic potato? When Sharon’s assistant told us that’s what she was gonna do I thought it was only an exercise in teaching us how some things are impossible and should be left alone. And then she whammed the straw clean thorugh the potato! It was the COOLEST thing I’ve seen since I conceived WDL! We all got a chance to try it and I was the first one toget it right. You should have seen me jump up and down. A 32 years old mom of two and a businessowner jumping like a yoyo holding a potato in her hand with a straw is not a pretty sight. This was Miracle No. 1.

That’s me with the potato on my head.

Then came Miracle No. 2. She dangled a small metal ball from a piece of plastic wire and she told it to go round and round, and the ball actually started moving in a circle. I was looking at her hand – it was perfectly still! Then, she asked it to go back and forth, and the ball obeyed. It was CRAZY. All us non-believers of course got to try it for ourselves and it worked!

And then came Miracle No. 3 – the biggest miracle of them all. Sharon introduced us to a  board game she had been working on along with her team at Pay Your Family First. It was called Thrive Time and was supposedly meant to help people, especially teens, understand their finances. I was sceptical but then I love board games; Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble – you name it. So, I joined in. Within minutes I was totally immersed in the game. Of course the vocabulary wasn’t coming easy to me and I had a hard time deciphering where I put my losses and gains but it slowly started to make sense. BIGGEST MIRACLE OF ALL!!

I didn’t realize it at that point. I am guilty of even whining about it a little. But, when I got home and I was going through the invoice template I use to send to clients, I realized I was thinking of the numbers in terms of  revenue and profit. That encouraged me. I started making a list of things I had – my assets. Looked OK. I then made a list of my savings or the profit I received at the end of an assignment (I always used to wonder how I spent the entire $1000, not reliazing I paid a team-member $150 and paid my Internet bill and spent on adding more RAM to the computer). Here was my revenue and expenditure.

I am not saying I am a whizz at it now but at least I know the basics. For me, as a virtual business that’s very small scale at the moment, this is enough. I know at some point I am gonna need an accountant – but at least she won’t think I am a complete illiterate when it comes to finances and accounting, and won’t be able to intimidate me with an alien lingo.So Yipppeeee …

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Why Business Plans are Important

OK so am back from a 3-week dream trip to the US. First things first, here is a dedication to all my detractors:

That felt good … to all of you who thought I was crazy for running after impossible dreams and who laughed and scoffed and looked down because you went to medical school while I attended a 3rd grade college and studied english literature … look at me now. Ahhhh … what bliss. Thank you for all your negativity and for your b****iness. Made my resolve to do something “different” and “meaningful” even more stronger. So, hope this is all giving YOU HELL.

With that out of my system, I can go back to being the nice, sweet person you all know. I notice traffic on the blog. Amazing! So, all you anonymous, silent readers, if you are here for anything useful, sorry to disappoint you. This is just a place for me to rant and ramble and brag about my fabulousness. No, seriously!

Anyhoo … so after spending 3 weeks in the US making wonderful friends and meeting amazing people and spending US$11k of the American tax-payers’ money, what was it that I learned? A LOT, I tell you. My head is abuzz with ideas. I haven’t even had time to feel jet-lagged. Been working since the day I landed in Paki-land. But, after thinking and feeling like my brain was going to explode, trying to decide what I wanted to work on first … I realized … Thunderbird was right … I need a business plan. I can’t go around making great plans for out-of-this-world websites, and hiring a gazillion women to work from home at fixed salaries without capital, and to raise capital, I either have to steal my mother-in-law’s jewelry, or I have to write a business plan, and hope I find an investor just as crazy as I am. *If you are an investor, please read ‘crazy’ as FABULOUS.*

So, been working on it since yesterday using a template given to us by Prof. Steven Stralser at Thunderbird. I have also realized, while writing your business plan you will probably need a lawyer. For example, Women’s Digital League is not registered. To register I have to decide if I want to make it a Private Ltd. Company or a Public Company. I have had the best of the best explain to me the difference between the 2, but it’s beyond my comprehension so will have to leave it to a lawyer. Also, you might have to answer questions like:

  • What kinds of permits or license will you need to open for business?
  • What government requirements will you need to meet?

Now obviously, I don’t know the answers to either of the above. But an investor would want me to know about these and to take care of them before I get us both put behind bars. :D

Also, having a business plan ensures you set your priorities right. What is it that you are going to do once you get the US$100 million (that’s how much Quora got … sighhh …. I DETEST rich people). Will you spend it on sales, marketing, HR, improving your services/product? Chances are you want to spend on all but then what is most important. It will help clear your head and put all your ideas into some kind of an order … I know things look a little less chaotic now that I have started working on a  BP. It’s kinda like spring cleaning. Your clear out the cobwebs, throw out the items you know you will NEVER use and that are so precious to you but are cluttering up the space (my Spice Girls shoes from 1996 – *sob), and clean out the bits and pieces that are the most useful and lay them in neat stacks.

So a Business Plan is essentially your vision put into words, and a strategic plan to help you achieve your goal. It helps put the mechanism into operation. An idea is just an idea and holds no value until you put it into motion. Plus, we live in a material world dahlins … like it or not, but $$$ is important. And no investor in his right mind (unless it’s your billionaire dad and you are the prodigal son *notice how I am diverting from my love of all things feminine and for the negatives am only using the masculines!) will give you any money. For that, you have to show her  (see the subtle change? Female equality? Sorry, we are superior. Men will just have to learn to live with it.) you have a sound financial understanding of your business, the capital you need, why you need it, how you will spend it, and how you will make that 1 million into 10 millions.

Because a good business plan is always a team effort (which sadly mine isn’t but will still work beautifully because my awesomeness = a team of 10 great ppl put together), therefore, you tend to not get carried away by your ideas and remain firmly rooted in reality. You get to debate each and every point and make sure you have a realistic strategy in place to help you through tough phases and not get bankrupt in your first year. Yes, it still happens despite the best of teams working together, but you narrow down your chances by leaps and bounds.

So, I know it sucks to sit down and write down everything because you would rather go out and do things then just talk about them. But if you need that seed capital that’s so important for startups, even virtual ones, dudettes you gotta nail your business plan.

Me goes works on mine …

Lemme know if you have any Qs …