Louise Gooden is the published author of “Rocket your way to Financial Independence”.
She is a private client advisor at Halogen Private Wealth Services, specialising in developing financial strategies to help people achieve their financial goals. Louise regularly conducts on-line webinars and training in the areas of personal budgeting, superannuation, shares and stock market and managed funds and property.
Louise has developed a highly successful on-line personal budgeting 6 week Boot Camp to help people get their basic personal finances on track.
Louise tells us her StartUp story. Listen here
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Or you can read the entire transcript of the interview with Louise here:
Ingrid: Hi Louise, thanks for your time today. I’ve got some great start-up questions to ask you.
Louise: Great, I look forward to it.
Ingrid: So why did you originally start your business?
Louise: It was really forced upon me to a degree, I was a manager in the Melbourne office of a previous financial planning firm and they were taken over by a large company, and to me that triggered a change in direction. So whether to go in a new corporate role, or to begin my own business, and here I am.
Ingrid: And did you start your business straight away?
Louise: I packed up in Melbourne and started the next week in Sydney.
Ingrid: Fantastic. So it was a real business right from the beginning.
Louise: Yes. Well the idea was real, I just had to make it happen, yes.
Ingrid: Can you just describe those first few weeks. What was that like?
Louise: I actually remember sitting in Martin Place on a bench with my partner that I chose to build the business with, and we were literally planning on a piece of paper. You know, what are we going to do with the offices, and staff, and IT, like it was bare bones. I still remember that to the day, I look back fondly on that. It’s easier the more passion you have, and yes, exciting times, generally. I think you just start excited, passionate, and hope for the best.
Ingrid: And the business partner that you were working with at the time, was that somebody you’d known before?
Louise: Yes. He was the managing director of the business I was involved with then and I had known him since ‘91 really, so yes, we had a good relationship there.
Ingrid: Just really briefly on that, that was a business relationship, partnership, did you set that up legally? Did you have legal advice?
Louise: Yes, we didn’t have legal advice simply because we knew judging from being a financial planner, but obviously, yes, we had to discuss what entity would work best, a company or a trust or own business, self starter, so yes we weighed those up, and what worked best for us. Then of course we sought advice to set up a structure, and that’s really important to do correctly from day one.
Ingrid: And to set that up legally, with exit clauses and things like that.
Ingrid: Great. So just to get back to your customers, how did you know that the business you were building had customers and that what you were offering was what your customers wanted?
Louise: I suppose I only had the past experience of being an advisor in the sense that I’d built a client base from scratch, even though it was in a corporate structure, but I knew that client had bought into me and my service and my offering, as much as I was part of a company. So I suppose I had indications from a few clients that they were interested in where I was going to go, and that they would possibly follow me, but I didn’t rely upon that. I just thought, well I know I’m a good planner, if I can get my name out there, there should be clients, but that wasn’t a certainty for sure.
Ingrid: But the business model was viable.
Louise: The business model I knew, I wasn’t radically changing anything.
Ingrid: It was a proven model.
Louise: Correct. So it was just that I’d lost the support of an office and a brand.
Ingrid: So in terms of that, the office and the staff, and the brand, what did you miss most when you set out on your own?
Louise: I think you miss your colleagues, and that comraderie, and the birthday lunches and the Friday drinks, you know you’ve immediately got a group of friends and a group of people that have similar ideas and similar motivation, and I think suddenly you’re reliant on yourself for all of that.
Ingrid: And there’s no IT department to call when something’s not working (laughs).
Louise: And the pay doesn’t necessarily turn up every Friday. Yes, so a lot of that. I think it can be isolating for sure.
Ingrid: Is that one of the things about having a business partner that you found helpful?
Louise: That was helpful, yes. And staying in touch with the close friends that you knew, but you lose that a little bit, because they’re busy and you’re busy. But yes, having a partner was definitely easy, because if you’re having a bad day he hopefully wasn’t and vice versa.
Ingrid: And someone to build a business with.
Louise: Absolutely, having a common vision.
Ingrid: So how did you fund those early days? You said that the money didn’t turn up in the bank every week or fortnight.
Louise: I sold property, and lived on that for probably the first 18 months to 2 years. So a bit of a timeline.
Ingrid: A big injection of capital from you.
Louise: Well, financial planning luckily doesn’t have, you know I don’t have to build a restaurant, but it’s just that the income’s not coming in to take on a new client. To build a large client base takes time. So it was just really replacing my income, not so much injecting it into the business at that point.
Ingrid: That was your wage.
Louise: That was my wage, yes. I was lucky that I had something to do at that point, but it’s a commitment, isn’t it?
Ingrid: Yes, it’s a big commitment. And how to fund in those early days, everyone approaches that differently. Some people save up lots of money so that they can, or like you said they have to sell something.
Louise: You really need to have thought that through, because I think things take longer than you expect, and you need to have that plan B so you don’t get that fear of –
Ingrid: Where’s the money coming from?
Louise: And making decisions based on that.
Ingrid: So apart from your partner, who else was of great assistance to you? And you don’t have to mention their name, but just in terms of what they did and what they offered to you, who else stands out?
Louise: That’s a very good question. I’m very much one that gets a lot from self development from reading and courses, and the latest book, so no one in particular but I love all of that motivational stuff, Anthony Robbins, everyone that’s doing something that you’re aspiring to. Even Hay House Radio, which is inspirational radio, versus the news, which is depressing. You know all those sorts of things kept me on track, but people, my brother who was in the industry, he was great, he was a sounding board I suppose, that you need, someone you trust, he was so valuable. Not so much in the industry as such, I think that’s myself (laughs).
Ingrid: And you have to be your own best advocate, don’t you?
Louise: I think I was. I knew my industry, it was connecting with people and resources that inspired me about building a business. When you’re doing financial planning or anything else, it was those sorts of people who helped me. How do you produce a model of a business – that just kept me excited that it was possible.
Ingrid: And is there anything as you look back on those early days, because you’ve been in business maybe 10 years now?
Louise: Yes, over 12 years.
Louise: Yes, 2002 till now, so 12 years.
Ingrid: If you look back to those early days, and it’s probably harder because it’s so long ago, but is there a sense of something you wish you’d known then that you might have done differently?
Louise: I think you need to know how hard it’s going to be, and that you don’t want to know (laughs). But I think I would love to have seen a GFC was coming, because that threw us, that was a real hard hit for the business, and that was five years into the business. So I wish I’d probably planned better for ‘what ifs’, and it would be lovely to predict who you’re working with and what they’re going to do as well. And you can’t.
Ingrid: Like future clients.
Louise: And your partner. If you go into a partnership, really, I’ve got a really wonderful partner overall, but you really change as businesses evolve, and make sure that you’ve thought that through, and exit strategies and so forth, for each person, because you go in blindly.
Ingrid: Even though it was someone you knew well?
Louise: Absolutely, yes, you just need to know what each other’s plan is for the business and what their timeline is as well. But yes, I wish I’d known how it would work out.
Ingrid: Don’t we all just want that crystal ball?
Louise: Ignorance is bliss as well.
Ingrid: It can be. So Louise, you’re in a unique position, to be working with people on their financial state, sometimes, do people come to you with the idea of starting their own business, and what would you say, maybe not to a client, but in general? What would you say to someone who comes to you saying, I’ve got this idea for a business?
Louise: I had one today actually. A female in a corporate role, looking to go into her own business of very much a time for money type of transaction, and I was asking her those questions of, how is she going to fund this, and how does she see it progressing, and honestly, she couldn’t answer. It was purely a burning passion, but she hadn’t thought through how was she going to live, what can she charge for her services, and what does that mean for her family? What was your original question?
Ingrid: If someone came to you, what would you say to someone?
Louise: I really think you have to know your budget, you have to know what your minimum spend is, you have to know how long you can survive with however long your plans are. Because financial stress will do out any plans, you know just think, marriages end, businesses end, financial stress is not something you want. So it’s just having thought through, have you got a hobby or is it a business?
Ingrid: That’s such an incredibly important distinction, you’ve seen lots of hobbyists.
Ingrid: Who’ve accidentally had businesses, and go on to flourishing businesses, but it has to be planned very well.
Louise: I don’t think people understand their cash flow, and most self starters unfortunately aren’t financially independent now, so if they’re going to take a backwards step for the future, like I sold property to go forwards eventually, you’ve got to think, well what can this business grow to, and will I make up this time that I’m going backwards for. What’s your ultimate goal?
Ingrid: And the cost benefit analysis of selling that property versus keeping that property and letting it generate income, and keeping your hobby and keeping your job.
Louise: Yes, absolutely.
Ingrid: And that might be the options for some people.
Louise: Yes, just because we want to do something doesn’t mean we should.
Ingrid: That’s a tweetable (laughs) – what was that? ‘Just because we want to do doesn’t mean we should,’ there’s a tweet there. Ok so you’ve talked about, you like being inspired by other people and listening to podcasts, and listening to Hay House radio and things like that, what sort of characteristics, do you think people need to have to be in business? So what three characteristics do you think you have that makes you so successful in business, and what do you think people need to have? Not necessarily the same as yours, but thinking about what you’ve got that makes you successful, what are the things that are critical?
Louise: What comes to mind is you have to want hard work, but you know what, I think that’s, the older I get I don’t think that’s necessarily right. My challenge this year is to work less, and achieve more. But I think when you start you need to be willing to work hard and put the hours in because it’s tough, but with the ultimate goal of, can I delegate? Can I think outside the square, I’m not the martyr and have to do everything, which often women will do. So yes, I love hard work, you need enthusiasm and passion, and you need clarity as well. Because enthusiasm about the wrong thing can be exhausting can’t it? So I think clear minded, hard working, and enthusiastic
Ingrid: Clear minded, hard working and enthusiastic. Interesting you say about delegating because I think a lot of people think they have to do everything, and they get caught in that cycle of, I can’t afford to pay someone else to do it, if I do it, it’ll be done properly.
Louise: Correct, and I’ve been there. Perfectionist and age has made it worse.
Ingrid: And just the volume of what there is to do now, because 12 years ago when you started your business, there was a lot of manual things that you had to do, a lot of that is automated now, and the very automation commands that you understand it. For example you don’t necessarily have to understand how your website works, but you need to have one.
Louise: Correct. You need to know enough so that you are good at negotiating a price, I think.
Ingrid: For whatever it is you are outsourcing.
Louise: And then let it go.
Ingrid: Now, its been 12 years. What’s the next 12 years going to bring?
Louise: I think its exciting. I’m really glad that I’ve still got the excitement that I had back then, I just want to tweak the model, mainly because of all the IT developments, and the technological developments, I feel I can influence a lot more people because I can get the message out there, versus the traditional one on one, come in for a meeting and an hour and a half of your time and let me discuss investment strategies. I really am excited about me being able to educate on mass and help a lot more people because of technology and because of the cost of delivering that advice now is so much cheaper than previously, so it gives an opportunity for me to educate, and hopefully access to financial advice, quality financial advice, for many more people, who don’t usually come to get it.
Ingrid: And the thing is you’re based here in Sydney and if someone wants to come and see you, or I supposed they could have a phone call or a Skype, but if they’re living in Dubbo and want to bring all their bits of paper, they have to actually come to Sydney.
Louise: Yes, whereas I just did a client in Hong Kong earlier. So it’s so exciting that it is accessible now, people can see you, they can hear you, you can communicate so much more often and effectively, so I think it’s exciting what it could hopefully become, not even 12, but 5 years at least.
Ingrid: 5 years.
Louise: That’ll do me.
Ingrid: And then you’re on a beach with a martini or a mai tai.
Ingrid: Louise, thank you so much for your time today.
Louise: My pleasure.
Ingrid: Our start-up community loves hearing stories about how people got started. I think you’ve given us some really wonderful insights.
Louise: Great. Well, I wish everyone luck. See you out there.
Ingrid: See you out there. Thank you so much.
Louise Gooden is the published author of “Rocket your way to Financial Independence”.