I have never really regarded myself as being a particularly talented businessman or entrepreneur. To the contrary, I see myself as average at best. I don’t know whether that is because I am always very hard on myself or because I compare how my skill set as an entrepreneur compares against that of being an investor. If that’s the comparison then hands down, the investor wins. That’s because I have dedicated my entire adult life to becoming good at one thing and that is how to invest money and I have to say it’s a pretty useful skill to have learned. If you think that everybody in the world (with the exception perhaps yoga teachers in the Himalayas), are working with the intention of making money then I guess that all that I have done is cut out is out the middle part and gone straight to the source. Rather than becoming good at a job which makes money I decided that I will just become really good at making the money that everybody seems to desire. More importantly the skill allows me to make money not just for myself but for others too. And I guess it was because of my desire, infatuation, obsession to become good only at this one particular skill i.e. to make money from money, that I was pleasantly surprised when a fellow business owner asked me a couple of weeks ago to become his business mentor. Wow, I thought. I didn’t expect that. So, we got chatting and I said to him that I obviously didn’t have enough time to be a full-time mentor but I would be happy to share what I knew with him and of course I wouldn’t charge him anything for it. So, it got me thinking and then after some careful thought I realised that although not all of my business ideas were an overnight success (I remember the chocolate tea pot business doing particularly badly but I put that down to bad market timing), I was now still standing as the proud owner of several successful businesses including London Stone Education, London Stone Trading and of course FCA regulated London Stone Securities. I also have property interests and a marketing company so I guess actually I was perhaps not giving myself the credit that I deserved as an entrepreneur. After all I set up each business on my own, without any financial help, no loans, with no business coaching or partners or mentors. It was just me, myself and I. So, in a way it’s an achievement that with retrospect I should be very proud of. I also set up London Stone Securities on the same day that Lehman Brothers went bust and so the market wasn’t exactly crying out for a new brokerage firm. And as I now fast forward 10 years on and look around, I can see that many of my direct competitors, including some colleagues of mine who I used to work with, have businesses that no longer exist. In many cases that there was entirely their own fault but I will save that story for another time. And whether or not I regard myself as a ‘successful’ entrepreneur or not is actually probably moot point in any case because who even cares. But the one thing that I can say that I definitely do have is experience. Experience is really important because it teaches you about your mistakes and the things that you would differently and that can help others who are now beginning their journey like I once did, from the safe corporate world to the lonely world of being your own boss. For example, one mistake that I made when I first set up my business was that I didn’t think big enough. Having worked for organisations like Deutsche Bank or RBS with a global workforce of 15,000 or more I just never thought that I could compete to that level. But I was measuring success in the wrong way. An organisation’s level of success is not measured by the number of employees but by how good those employees are and the difference that they can make to the lives of their clients. How good they are at solving the problems of the firm’s clients is a far better question to consider. And if you think about it RBS very nearly went bust and needed a massive bailout from the Government. Given that my business has never got close to going bust or has never had a bailout from the Government I guess if you are keeping score that must surely read Ranjeet Singh 1 – RBS 0. So anyway, and as always, I digress. It’s funny you know. I’m in the middle of writing my first book which is called “The 13 Insider Trading Secrets that will blow your mind” and because my style of writing is that I don’t plan or prepare, I literally just write what comes into my head and so the amount of times that I digress does sometime get out of control. I now have a book with some chapters that are 2 pages long and other chapters where I have been unable to stop myself I have written 15 pages. The problem is that I don’t go back to change things. Apart from a quick spell-check and to make sure that they have not made any glaringly obvious grammatical errors, I don’t go back to change the style, direction, story line. It’s the same for with these articles. For me writing is telling a story, a narrative and so it has to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. Would you Adam and Eve it, I’ve digressed again. So anyway, the point is this. To be an entrepreneur you need a lot of qualities from leadership, managing a team, negotiation, sales, taking calculated risks and so on and so forth. But there are three big take-aways for me personally that are probably the most important. Number one – be yourself. You only have one life and there is no point trying to keep others happy. We all know that you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time in any case so you may as well concentrate on keeping yourself happy. If people like you then great, that’s a big bonus but if not, don’t beat yourself up over it because there are another 7 billion people in the world, so just go and hang out with more people who appreciate you for you are. It’s the same with business. I refuse to do business with people that I don’t like. I’m glad to say that it doesn’t happen often, in fact it probably has happened probably only two or three times in ten years but I don’t need to do business with somebody who is just plain rude or racist. Money is great but self-respect has no price. And the only way to be yourself is to be genuine, sincere and transparent. My style is somewhat unorthodox but that’s okay because it’s me. I know a lot of fake people who work in the City who would stab you in the back and bend over to pick up your wallet but from their demeanour you would never have guessed it. In fact, I had a client who came into my office two days ago and he was kind enough to give a testimonial. I had no idea at the time but when I filmed him he said that “Ranjeet was like an ‘Investment Mum’ and that there was no bullsh*t”. In my 25 years of trading of which 20 of them have been in the City of London, I don’t think that I have been called an ‘Investment Mum’ or what that even means so that was a new one on me but despite the obvious gender disparity I took it as a compliment. It means that people realise that I am genuine and honest – and that means a lot to me. I think that wanting people to agree with you is very over-rated. Clients don’t want you to agree with them, they want you to tell them the truth. The second tip is to ‘Think Big’ which I already mentioned. Thinking big is essential to anything in life, not just in business. The human body, the human mind, our human fighting spirit is capable of achieving great things and we all owe it to ourselves to be the best possible version of ourselves. Our goals need to be set high because the world of complacency is such a dull place to reside. It’s not even about the money. It’s just about fulfilling your potential. There are many people in the world who don’t have the opportunities that you and I have, so what a waste it is that God should be kind enough to bless us each with our individual skills for us to only then put them to waste. Whatever your skill or talent the world deserves to know it because you can make a difference. And the final thing that I would say is to make sure that you always go out of your way to find and then solve your clients’ problems. The world is full of problems. People have medical problems, relationship problems, financial problems and so on. If you can solve those problems then not only do you have a great business which will reward you handsomely, but more importantly you are having a positive impact on somebody else’s life. I know too many people who sell things that they don’t believe in or promote a product that they would never use themselves. I appreciate that we all need to make money to survive in life but it does seem to me to be an awful waste of a life. We will spend most of our adult life working and if that means you are doing something that you don’t enjoy then you will have spent most of your life not being happy. Worse still, if your work involves selling a service or product that you don’t believe in, then you will have spent most of your life living a lie. So, remember – Be true to yourself, Think Big, and Solve your client’s problems. Just maybe I might be an entrepreneur after all.