The advice successful people wish they’d been given earlier

In the season of broken New Year resolutions (aka February), we wondered how those really impressive and successful people do it.

You know the ones, they’re still going to the gym or reading intellectual books.

Or wisely, they don’t use one date to set their goals,  and they’ve got successful businesses to prove it.

But how do you know where to set your sights?

We spoke to a few of our favourite entrepreneurs to find out what they wish they’d been told before they had to find out the hard way.

“Don’t hijack your happiness to possessions”

Lisa Schutz. Photo: Craig Sillitoe

Lisa Schutz founder and CEO Verifier says simply she wishes she’d been told to focus on what she wanted in life and not to hijack her happiness to possessions.

She would also tell herself:

Somewhere to live is a necessity – it’s not your identity. Given property prices, you will end up not living exactly where and how you want, and although I realise this puts me at odds with most of Australia, don’t speculate on your home.

If you are in a high risk job invest cautiously with your savings (and have some). Or, have a safe day job and speculate on the side.

Protect your downside and plan for graceful exits – that means insurance, pre-nuptials, wills all that pesky stuff that really matters when things go wrong.

Lastly, the biggest reason people get in to money trouble is that something goes wrong and they avoid dealing with it. Talk to someone. Don’t hide.

“Take a startup founder mentality to personal finances.”

Des Hang. Photo: Amanda Ford

Des Hang, CEO and cofounder, Carbar has spent thousands over the years on cars, clothes and electronics that gave him happiness at the time, but are now just clutter.

“I had to start running a business to learn this, but now I avidly track my spending and am making smarter purchasing decisions on items.

“I’m essentially taking a startup founder mentality to my personal finances, thinking about everyday goods based on their value in my life relative to their cost. It’s not as hard as it sounds, and it’s made a substantial impact on my savings.

“It’s why I tell people looking for a car to not just buy a new car for the sake of having a new car. Depending on the model, cars can devalue as much as 30 per cent within the first year of purchase.”

It’s the small steps that make the real difference

Will Richardson

In a somewhat ironic piece of advice, Will Richardson the Managing Director of Giant Leap Fund says he should have ignored the big deals and made small steps.

“Early on, I had the goal to retire by 30. So I spent my time looking for the big investment opportunity to shortcut the wealth building process.

“I learnt the hard way that it’s rare to find wealth through a crash hot investment or to spot and invest in a single business that’s going to take off. It happens and those stories get a lot of airtime, but it is rare.

“Had I been smart enough to do something as simple siphoning off a small amount of my pay each month and investing it over time I’d be in a better position.

“Working in finance, the advice was staring me in the face too. Warren Buffett suggests everyone start building wealth by investing in Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) to save on fees and generate a steady return that reflects the overall market over time.”

“My superannuation is a massive pot of money”

Carla Harris founder of Longevity App says she wishes she realised her superannuation was actually large sum of her own money that she has control over.

I wish I’d thought about my superannuation as more of a massive pot of my money – that I have direct control over – rather than something that my employer took care of in the background and therefore didn’t have to worry about.

In fact with a tiny bit of attention to some simple factors such as how and where your super is invested, fees you get charged and taking advantage of government co-contributions etc can have a measurable difference to how much you money have at the end. Given the earlier that you start giving your super a bit of TLC the bigger the impact you can potentially have – I defiantly wish I’d been given this advice a lot earlier on in life!”