The Greatest Book I Never Wrote

A Story about following your heart and chasing your dreams - By Ashraf Stakala

Adapt Or Die

It’s been nearly a month since the last time I wrote anything, which i understand is pretty much unacceptable. I have good reason though, so please hear me out.

The main reason why I haven’t written anything is because I’ve been waiting to find out if my application for finance from KULA was successful or not, and because of the money I needed to put up with the application, I couldn’t use any of it until I got the outcome. Well after more than 4 weeks waiting for an answer they finally called me last Thursday, to tell me that my application was rejected.

I was disappointed because the business banker who handled my application was so positive that it would be approved, but hey that’s life for you.

Now I’m in a situation where after losing my main investor, I’ve also lost the finance from Kula that I was counting on to build my company. It has thaught me one very valuable lesson though, don’t count on others where your future is concerned.

It’s disappointing that South African Banks and Institutions aren’t willing to help out young entrepreneurs, but I can’t let this set-back stop me from building my company.

To make matters worse I still haven’t received any money from my unemployment fund so it’s getting rough out here.

It is what it is though, and I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into when I resigned from my comfortable, well paying job in November.

Going forward the plan is simple. Use the R10 000 I have to get the ball rolling, and hope that I can get some investors or funding to grow the business.

Adapt or Die

Adapt Or Die

It’s been nearly a month since the last time I wrote anything, which I understand is unacceptable. I have good reason though, so please hear me out.

The main reason why I haven’t written anything is because I’ve been waiting to find out if my application for finance from KULA was successful, and because of the money I needed to put up with the application, I couldn’t use any of it until I got the outcome. Well after more than 4 weeks waiting for an answer they finally called me last Thursday, to tell me that my application was rejected.

I was disappointed because the business banker who handled my application was so positive that it would be approved, but hey that’s life for you.

Now I’m in a situation where after losing my main investor, I’ve also lost the finance from Kula that I was counting on to build my company. It has taught me one very valuable lesson though, don’t count on others where your future is concerned.

It’s disappointing that South African Banks and Institutions aren’t willing to help out young entrepreneurs, but I can’t let this set-back stop me from building my company.

To make matters worse I still haven’t received any money from my unemployment fund so it’s getting rough out here.

It is what it is though, and I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into when I resigned from my comfortable, well paying job in November.

Going forward the plan is simple. Use the R10 000 I have to get the ball rolling, and hope that I can get some investors or funding to grow the business.

Adapt or Die

Turning Down Good Opportunities

Today I had to make a very difficult decision, that could have a great or terrible effect on my future success.

The Broke Billionaire Blog has continued to grow at a steady rate, and after 10 Months of working my ass off on the blog, it’s finally reached the point where it’s getting recognition from the people who will ultimately end up as my clients through advertising and/or promoting their Brands  on the Blog.

I’ve managed to secure advertisers for the next three months and also clinched a deal with one of the biggest Streetwear retail chains in the country, so things are looking up.

Last week however I was approached by a Public Relations company and asked if I would be interested in covering an event for them. At first I was obviously blown away that such a prestigious company would require my services and thus I immediately agreed to do it. Then I had some time to think about it over the weekend and it suddenly Hit me. Why am I doing work for free? Is this why I quit my job? Hell no!

The thing with South African PR companies is that they don’t really see Bloggers or Blogging as a legitimate business and nine times out of ten they won’t pay Bloggers for the work they do. They will usually provide you with a free ticket or something of that kind, but very seldom will they pay you in cash for the work that you do.

I don’y think that’s fair, and It’s also a point that was raised recently by some other South African Bloggers (Click Here To read). Now obviously I know turning down this opportunity could be a big mistake, because this work I would have been doing free could possible have lead to a paying job in future, and I could use the contacts to network.

But at the end of the day I decided that I can’t afford to be spending my time and money on things that could possibly, maybe, one day, lead to a paying job. So after doing a lot of thinking on the matter, I decided to declined the invitation.

This is not the first time I’ve done something like this, and the last time I did it I was told I’m being crazy after I stopped writing for one of the biggest Soccer publications in the country, because they weren’t paying me for my blog posts they were using on their website.

A few months later I was asked to blog about about the 2010 World Cup, and I got paid for doing it.

Hopefully this time I’ll have similar results, although I won’t be holding my breath.

Sideline Frustrations

Frustrated. That’s the only way I can describe how I feel at the moment.  I had hoped I would have started with my business new business venture by now but it could be another 2-4 weeks before I even hear back from the bank.

I applied for business financing from Nedbank, through Kula Enterprises on Monday and even though the Business Banker seemed impressed with my business plan, it’s really frustrating having my hands tied like this.

It’s been quite a mission getting the company off the ground, and right now I just wish I had enough money to do this on my own.

But unfortunately I’m out of money at the moment, as I only have R31 left in my bank account. Kind of praying that I get some unemployment cash soon (even though it won’t be much)

There’s a lot riding on this decision from Kula Enterprises, I just pray that my application will be successful.

Until then I have to bide my time on the sidelines and try not to lose focus.

Doing What You Love For A Living

How many of us wouldn’t love to get paid to do what we love? Whether that be playing football, Tweeting, Photography, making music or Blogging.

The resounding answer would be all of us! This is quite simply because most of us are stuck in a job that we either dislike or have no passion for. The funny thing is that 90% of us probably think it’s not possible to get paid for doing what we love, but the truth is you can get paid for doing what you love!

If you think hard enough, there is probably a way that you can earn a living from doing things you enjoy. The general view is that only a “lucky few” get paid for doing what they’re passionate about. I used to think this too not so long ago, well that was until I read this Zen Habits Post titled "3 Simple Steps To making Money From Any Passion". 

After reading this post I thought about it long and hard, and came to the realisation that there’s probably somebody out there willing to pay me to Blog. I then wrote a “I’ll Blog For You” proposal and sent it to various South African companies.

The first three I sent the proposal to didn’t even bother responding. But I kept on sending out my proposal and a week later one bit. I got a reply from Sportscene who told me they were interested and requested a detailed proposal with an outline of how much I want to be paid!

I start blogging for Sportscene on the 1st of April. If there is something you’re passionate about, chances are there’s somebody willing to pay you to do it.

Banks and Business Loans

Last week I decided to approach some of the biggest local Banks to enquire about a business loan. Many of us want to apply for business loans from Banks but few ever do. It took me this long just to approach the banks, and the experience was interesting to say the least.

I thought is would a relatively simple process of just asking what details the Banks require at Enquiries/Reception but at all the Banks I approached I was forced to wait to speak to a consultant.

Standard Bank was the first Bank I approached. After waiting about 5 minutes I spoke to one of their Business Banking consultants. She told me that the Bank was open to helping young Business owners and informed me that I don’t need any business plan to apply for a loan. The only catch was that in order to apply for a loan, I first had to open a Business banking account, which I found a bit odd.

Next up was Nedbank. What a lovely bank! It took me all of 2 minutes to get to speak to their Business Banking accounting who came across as both friendly and knowledgeable. She told me that the Bank will most probably not give me a loan because I don’t have any security, but that I can still apply because they also make use of Kula Enterprise Finance for applicants like myself who don’t have security.

She also gave me a list of documents that they require before processing your application like; A business plan, Bank statements, Cash Flow projections.

Next up was FNB. Here I had to wait close to 40 minutes just to speak a consultant. This was not a Business Banking consultant, and she merely gave me contact details of a consultant who I have to call and arrange a meeting with. This is just to find out what documents they require.

Finally I stopped by at ABSA, who seemed to have a Business consultant at the Bank, but couldn’t help me because he was “busy”. They gave me the contact details of another business banking consultant that I had to call to get the info I wanted.

It was an interesting experience, and it soon became apparent that I would most likely not be getting much help from the Banks in terms of a loan, due to my situation of being self employed and having no security.

I am currently working on finalising my business plan, and will approach Standard Bank and Nedbank on Monday 16 January to apply for financing. Should be an interesting week.

My goal for 2012 is to have no goals

I’ve decided that I won’t be setting any goals for 2012.

This mite seem like a crazy thing for somebody as goal orientated as me to do but there’s method  behind the madness.

At the beginning of every year I sit down and make a lists of goals that I want to achieve for the year. This year I just couldn’t do it. I must have stared at that piece of paper for almost an hour and I still couldn’t write down any goals.

I eventually decided to just leave it for later. It wasn’t until I read a post about somebody else who has also decided not to set any goals that I understood why I felt that way.

Obviously goals are very important and you can’t go through life without having any because of the fact that goals and ambition are very closely linked, so not having any goals is often seen as not having any ambition.

But I honestly have never felt better going into a new year. Without any goals I’m free to go through the year without stress or anxiety when things go wrong.

Now I focus on living and enjoying life and trying my best to achieve what I want from life. What I want is a lot different from what I imagine my goals would have been. I want to happy, I want my family to be happy, I want my business to be successful, just to name a few.

I can’t explain it properly but not setting any goals is the best decision I’ve made this year.

Even without any goals I’m still as ambitious as ever.

The First Big Setback of 2012

I’ve come to accept the fact that setbacks are a part of everyday life. That doesn’t make dealing with them any easier unfortunately.

This week I suffered my first big set back of the year. Everything on the CHEKA front was going great and according to plan until I received an email from my business partner and main investor on Wednesday.

He informed me that he had a change of heart, and due to the fact that he wants to focus on his own business ventures he would not be investing in the company anymore.

I fully understand his reasons and have no hard feelings towards him but f*ck me, I didn’t see that one coming!

So now I’m one investor and R20 000 short. I’ve suffered many setbacks along the way though so this is just another obstacle in the road to success. In life you will always encounter obstacles and failure, but you should never see it as the end of the road.

Failures and obstacles are what makes us stronger, and while they may be dissapointing, you can’t allow yourself to wallow in self pity because of it.

One of the most important business lessons I learned last year was; “Adapt or Die”, and I can promise you I won’t be doing the latter.

The Debt Lifestyle

As I promised yesterday, I’ll be writing more frequently this year. Today’s post is about a topic that has bothered me for a while. DEBT.

Debt has become such a part of our everyday lives that people seldom even give it a second thought. I used to be one of those people. Until yesterday when I cleared all my debt*

How it started
It started quite innocently, I remember signing a cellphone contract and opening an Edgars account. Nothing major.

Then the credit cards started. The funny thing is I don’t even remember applying for my first Credit card. My bank just offered it to me!

From that one Credit Card, I opened another one, as back up you know. A year or so later I switched banks and my new Bank once again just offered me a Credit Card with a R15 000 limit and threw in a R8 000 Overdraft Facility.

For those that are wondering, an Overdraft facility is where the Bank puts money in your account that’s not actually yours, and charge you interest on it. So even if you are dead broke, you’ll still have R8 000 (or whatever your overdraft limit is) in your account that you can use.

So now here I was, 24 with 3 Credit Cards and an overdraft facility that I never REALLY even wanted.

My Final Mistake
The final mistake I made was buying a car. Most people make this mistake, while some others buy a house that they can’t afford. In my defense my car wasn’t as expensive as the one the dealership offered me, and I gave a big deposit(I bought a 2008 Polo, they offered me a new 2010 Polo with a heavy balloon/risidual payment) but I still regard it as a mistake.

The mistake I made was I didn’t take all the cost associated with owning a car into account. Petrol, service fees, repairs, insurance.

Debt Nightmare
That was basically how I was living for two years! Three Credit cards (R23 000 total), an overdraft facility, a car I couldn’t really afford, clothing accounts I didn’t need. Oh and one account with a furniture store, and trust me they are one of the worst when it comes to nailing you with interest. That’s a lot of debt!

Never save
When I first started working I always saved a percentage of my monthly salary. I saved R15 000 in my first year, but as soon as I got into debt saving became a luxury I couldn’t afford.

The Debt Lifestyle
The Debt Lifestyle is what I call it. Most people are living it without even realising! Here are some signs:

  • You have multiple credit cards
  • You have a RCS Card
  • You have multiple clothing store cards
  • You have an overdraft
  • You drive a car you can’t afford
  • You live in a house you cant afford
  • A large percentage of your salary goes to paying your debt and accounts.
  • You have accounts at furniture stores
  • Your expenses are higher than your income

There are obviously more but those are a few that spring to mind.

Yesterday I spent most of the day undoing the damage I had done over the past three years by clearing all my debt. Credit cards, clothing stores, overdrafts. It was an amazing feeling.

The only debt I still have is my car which will probably be repossessed in the next month or two, but I’m cool with that because then I will truly be debt free.

Live Debt Free

Do you really need that new flat screen TV? Do you really need to buy a brand new car? The big house you can’t afford? Why do you have to buy the latest clothing as soon as it’s released?

Stop living above your means to impress others and break free from the Debt Lifestyle that so many South Africans are trapped in. I hope this article will be of help to somebody before they find themselves in a situation that I was in.

The system wants you to be in debt. Why else would Standard Bank offer me my 4th Credit Card (with a R20 000 Credit limit) when they could clearly see I was already drowning in debt?

Debt free and loving it…

New Year, New Beginnings

It’s been nearly four weeks since I last wrote anything! And now I’m back with a cliché title as well…

I know people always say things like; New Year, new beginnings and most of the time we’re just fooling ourselves as the new beginnings don’t make it past January. However this time it really is new beginnings for me as I enter the year unemployed for the first time since I was a student four years ago, and ready to take on the world of entrepreneurship.

I apologise for not writing much lately but to be honest it was a very unproductive period as the entire country just switched to Holiday Mode by Mid-December.

Today is officially the first working day of 2012 but still most people are still on holiday. Anyways I just wanted to do a post to show that there’s still life left in this book.

A few people have contacted me asking me to keep them updated, and it’s easy to see why. People are curious as to how this will work out, Can you quit your job you hate to chase your dreams?

I don’t know the answer yet but stay tuned to the blog to find out how things turn out (win or lose).

I’ll try and keep the blog updated frequently. (And the posts as short as possible)