What I wish I knew about money and business in my 20s

I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN...

     ...how important investing was

I wish I had invested early. One of the things I think about often is how liquid I was when I was in my twenties, in my first jobs. I wish I had put it into something like stocks, bonds or such instead of keeping it in a bank account. It would probably have grown way more and probably diversified my portfolio earlier in life. If I had invested it better in land, property or shares that would have, over the years, given me better returns. In addition, the power of insurance policies or insurance investments is lost on many people. It helps you save even if you don’t think so. Just invest the money. Don’t leave it in a bank account. Do not let the money that you have determine your lifestyle, that just because you are liquid you want to live a certain way. The fact that you are able to pay a  lot of money in rent does not mean that that is what you should do. Maybe you should find a mortgage where you will be paying that amount of money instead of rent. Where you can avoid it, do not mortgage your life on your lifestyle. The power of a big car is overrated. Technically, what you need is to get from point A to point B. Do not grow to become the perceived middle income in Kenya. I say ‘perceived’ because they are so geared in terms of having car loans, mortgage loans – all in an attempt to live a certain life. If somebody told them to pay up everything they currently owe, only a very small percentage would be able to pay up and keep up with the lifestyle  they currently have. Only a very small portion of them would be able to sustain those repayments if they lost their jobs tomorrow. That is a scary thought.

    Wambui Mbarire, CEO of Retail Trade Association of Kenya

  ...that it should be about impact

Money is not everything in life. When you are younger you always want to have the best car, go on holiday to the best places, you want to wear the  trendiest outfits – then you go through that phase and realise that you can only eat three meals a day,  only live in one house at a time, drive one car at a time – so once you get past money being all about financial gain, you start to realise that there is more to life. It really becomes about what you can do for others. What can you do to transform other peoples’ lives? It should be more about leaving something positive for future generations. Leaving a better country, better people and creating better opportunities for other people.

   Darshan Chandaria, Group CEO & Director of Chandaria Industries Ltd

  ...that micromanaging was a bad idea

I wish I knew about mentorship on money and business. Sometimes you try many things without asking the “stupid questions”, yet most people have gone through the same journey. If I knew that I would have asked questions before I made the mistakes that I made. One of them was being a sole proprietor. I used to do everything, but when I invested in training other people what I know, that is when I was able to build a brand. Now my company survives even without me. So now I always tell my students that if they want to be successful, they need to ask, because sometimes the questions they consider to be stupid are actually the ones that matter.

David Macharia, CEO of David Macharia Photography

...that I needed a mentor

The one thing I wish I knew in my 20s is business and financial modelling. Business modelling is about designing and developing a smart business model addressing supplies, distribution channels, customer needs, customer access points internal processes and value proposition.  Financial modelling is more of developing financial plans to support the various operations in the business model. Learning that is what has helped me so far in developing a successful business. The other thing I wish I knew then is the importance of mentorship and coaching in business and how instrumental it is in the success of a business.

 James Nyamai, Founder and Managing Director at Bioafriq Energy

  ...the beauty of compound interest

Start saving as early as possible. Compound interest is like magic. It just accumulates. It is interest on interest so it keeps growing and as long as you are consistently saving and investing, the money keeps growing. You do not need significant amounts of money to save and invest. There is an erroneous way of thinking that to invest, you need to accumulate a large pool of funds. Start with what you have and build on that.

   Einstein Kihanda, CEO of ICEA Lion Asset Management

...that there is more to life than money

I wish I knew that money isn‘t everything and that it comes and goes. You might end up missing the bigger picture if you only focus on money. And just like money, people also come and go - both in life and in business. So focus on what inspires you and the right money and the right people will follow you.

      Asim Shah, CEO of Tarpo Industries Ltd

   ...  that it was the time to take loans

If you must be in debt, let it be by taking loans for investment. Take loans when you are young, in your twenties. This is when you have less obligations, not to mention a lifetime to pay it back. When you are older, banks will lend you money for a shorter period, and it will be late in life.

 Carole Kariuki, CEO of KEPSA

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