From rock ‘n’ roll roadie to corporate speaker and entrepreneur, Richard Mulholland has run Missing Link, a presentation firm in South Africa, for 21 years. The self-described hobbyist talks finance, investments and expensive tattoos.
How does your company generate profit?
Different entities do it in different ways; Missing Link is a service organization where we basically sell our brain for the pound, whereas TalkDrawer and The Sales Department have a subscription and retainer model respectively. Exploring different business models intrigues me; it’s something I believe all entrepreneurs should embark on. You won’t be killed off by a better business; you’ll be killed off by a better business model.
What is your investment philosophy?
I know my weaknesses and this is one. As such I have a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. I find smart people that I like with diversified philosophies and leave them to it. The obvious exception to that is when we invest in starting new businesses.
What is your most prized investment?
I hate to be a cliché, but I timed crypto pretty well and have been pretty lucky there. My most prized investment would have to be starting a business though, that has certainly reaped the biggest dividend.
What advice would you give someone interested in investing?
In spite of what you’re told, unless you are super rich and have money to blow, investing isn’t a hobby. Find someone smarter than you to do it. Or, if you’re like me, find diverse, smart people and share the investment love.
Legacy or innovation? Which would you invest in and why?
Again, diversity is key. All that is old is not bad, and all that is new isn’t great.
Your biggest investment blunder?
I’ve invested in businesses as a complete outsider, and not given the love and support that they needed at the beginning to get traction. That has never worked… and I never seem to learn.
What do you spend most of your money on?
Of late, board games and electric skateboards.
What is the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
A motorcycle riding jacket.
How much were you earning as a rock n’ roll roadie?
R400 ($27) per week, or R600 ($40) per week while on tour.
What is the most you spent on a tattoo?
About R15,000 ($1,000) for a tattoo on my back.
Would you invest in longevity (prolonging your life) and why/not?
Only in so far as staying healthy.
What is the most interesting thing you have invested in?
Other people’s businesses. Troop Travel is one I’m quite enamoured with at the moment.
‘The One Thing I Want To Do Before I Die’
Thembani Biyam was appointed Head of Strategy & Monetisation for OLX South Africa when he was only 28. Now, as the Head of Growth at Orderin, one of the top three online food delivery companies in South Africa, he is responsible for strategic projects, product, design and growth marketing. He speaks about his best and worst investment experience.
What do you splurge on?
Definitely food; it’s the way to my heart. Then travel. Then tech toys, mostly photography and videography stuff like drones and stabilizer sticks for shooting vlogs. I love vlogging and editing for fun.
What has your worst investment blunder been?
My best and worst experience was investing in cryptocurrency. I got in late but bought some Bitcoin and Ethereum, and my investment grew about 350% in six months. Problem is, it crashed real quickly too. I got a lot of it out in time but lost a lot of it as well.
If you had to work but didn’t need the money, what would you choose to do?
Develop high school, university and professional basketball in South Africa to, at least, the European level. It’s the one thing I want to do before I die. I was an aspiring basketball player in high school but there were no proper structures in place to fully develop and the options for me to play professionally didn’t exist. I want that for my kids.
Where do you not mind waiting?
At home. If I am out in the world, I hate waiting for anything.
Fast food or home cooking?
Home cooking anytime. But fast food delivery every now and then doesn’t hurt (especially if it’s from Orderin).
Do you own anything you consider priceless?
Nothing material. More memories and perspectives.
Should people work for money or fulfilment?
Both. We all have to eat and do nice things, right? Those things cost hard-earned [money]. I would say, if you can continually optimize your career towards work that provides a combination of both, but increasingly nearing fulfilment versus money, that would be a win.
READ MORE | ‘Worth Billions and Millions‘
What kind of debt is okay?
The type that is income generating is the ‘most’ okay. Robert Kiyosaki talks about debt that generates income like property loans, business loans, and even credit card used for positive income-generating activities. Then, there are scenarios where you may really need debt to bail you out, but hopefully, you have savings and liquid investments for that. Then, there is a grey area around things like cars, phones etc. For this category, I would say, just make sure you can afford it from your income.
Do you follow a strict budget?
I do my absolute best to. There are some ‘treat yourself’ months sprinkled in there.
Would you rather never be able to express yourself accurately or always have to say the exact truth?
I always have to say the exact truth. A world of never being able to be a little colorful and fun in expressing myself would be a dark world.
‘Financial Freedom Is An Illusion’
Vinny Lingham, the co-founder of Newtown Partners and CEO of Civic, on investing in bitcoins and putting yourself first.
What is the most interesting investment you have ever made?
I think bitcoin has to be the most interesting. I was an early investor in bitcoin and it is interesting because of the way the whole industry has gone nuts, up and down, and on roller-coasters.
What was your most regrettable financial blunder?
I have got many. I think it was buying fancy cars when I was younger. You go and buy a car that you can barely afford and then you live in a small place.
And then you realize that you may be spending a lot of money on a vehicle instead of either saving or paying off debt. It’s okay to buy cars when you can afford them.
Do you have any particular investment philosophy?
I have lots but you have to build your own investment philosophy that works for you. Everyone has different risk tolerance. Some want lots of risk and others want no risk.
I think the mistake is to take no risk but you shouldn’t risk it [too much] either – so find the right balance.
How does one build this balance and financial discipline?
Have a budget and stick to it. If you have a fixed income, you need to have a fixed income budget.
What do you understand about being financially free?
Financial freedom is an illusion. Because if you really are financially free, it would mean that you are literally sitting on cash and living off interest for the rest of your life.
When you’re young and you make money, you’re free for a while and then you get yourself into the next big project and you are not really free. So, financial freedom can come and go. [Being financially] free forever is very hard to get to.
The only time you are free forever is when you put all your money in the bank and take no risk and if you can live off that income, then you are really free.
But if you keep investing and growing your wealth, you are not always free because you always have to look after your investments. So financial freedom is really hard to achieve if you’re always investing.
Even now when I have a lot of wealth and investments, I am free but I still have to make sure that my investments don’t fail. So, you are still a slave to your investments in a sense.
What are some of the business goals on your bucket list?
It would be interesting to go into an IPO company, I haven’t done that yet.
What are some of the financial lessons you have carried with you since your youth?
Pay yourself first. It is all good saving money, but you have to take care of yourself as well. Don’t live too close to the edge, and be balanced.
– Interviewed by Karen Mwendera
7 Tips From Owner Of Successful Business Incubator
Raizcorp CEO Allon Raiz helps develop entrepreneurs and businesses but shies away from an extravagant lifestyle and has a simple investment philosophy.
1.Your most regrettable financial blunder since becoming an entrepreneur?
One of our divisions, Partner Elite, does venture capital. We invested in a business based on personality and a relationship. Due to this, we did not do the due diligence we should have, and ended up paying the price. A big lesson indeed!
2.To what do you attribute success?
I do not believe I am successful. I believe I am in the process of succeeding, because I am obsessed with what I do, and have managed to congregate a bunch of equally passionate and obsessed people on this journey to serve entrepreneurs. I have, as a result, a very strong work ethic. I am extremely competitive, and drive people mad until I achieve the various milestones of the picture in my mind.
3.How do you define financial discipline?
I am lucky because I certainly don’t lead a flashy lifestyle. I do not have a flashy car; in fact, it is nine years old. I also don’t own a flashy watch, I do not wear flashy clothes, and I often wear jeans and my Raizcorp regalia. I do not eat out at flashy restaurants all the time. So my personal finances are rather simple. I focus on pumping all excess cash into bonds. Financial discipline, for me, is keeping overheads low, overpaying on your bond repayments, and saving. I do not invest in the stock market.
4.How have you diversified your investments?
Personally, I am not well-diversified. I have really two asset classes which are my Raizcorp shares and property. My life is in the business and most of my wealth and meaning come from it.
However, the company is well-diversified. It has six divisions and each one contributes to the bottomline.
5.Which is your favorite travel destination and why?
I travel so much for work that I actually loathe travel. I spent my December holiday in my garden reading, braai-ing, entertaining and swimming. But if I were to have to choose, it’s anywhere with a beach I can swim in.
6.If there was one financial or business goal you must accomplish before you retire, what would that be?
I do not plan on retiring! Well, perhaps at 90 to get my things in order before I die at 93. Seriously, I do not have the concept of retirement in my head.
My business goal is to serve 100,000 entrepreneurs at a single point in time through our various divisions. Entrepreneurial development is my life mission and my love and my passion. As long as I’m doing it, I’m at my goal point.
7.What was the last item you regretted purchasing?
It has to be my tablet. I thought I would use it but I am a person who prefers to write in a notebook and create boxes that I can tick. I think I used it for two weeks and have never used it again.
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