Habits that helped me to become successful
Tatjana was born in Estonia and came to the UK soon after the “Iron Curtain” fell down – initially to learn English and pick strawberries. She moved to London to study in college, and launched her first business during her second year. She became a self-made millionaire by the age of 29. Today, Tatjana owns a number of successful companies, including Win Investing LLP and The Wealth Training Company LLP, both providing education in the fields of personal finance and investing. Having built a successful business herself, Tatjana realised that there must be more to life than making millions or having a nice home and family.
What inspired you to start a business? Do you still feel the same way?
Soviet reality. As an 18 year old girl, it would be unimaginable living away from parents and being able to support myself. So I took an opportunity that was advertised in a newspaper, to go to UK and pick strawberries. I had to give up my last year of school in order to earn enough money for a plane ticket (it was around £500 back then which equated my 8 month salary). So I picked strawberries, flowers, and Brussel sprouts in fields before coming to London to learn English. When I moved to London, I worked in a sandwich bar for £2.50/hour, then in a publishing company that also organised conferences for former USSR republics. I thought I could do the same business better, so I formed a limited company and started doing it for myself. It seemed like common sense and an obvious path. Working for someone was always like a temporary solution.
How did you get funded? Was there any creative strategies that you used to execute when on minimal cash-flow?
I did not need a startup capital, so funded it myself as much as I could. My only assets were a phone and a fax machine. All I needed was a creative business model. I hired sales people on commission-only basis and started telesales business. The only expense in the beginning was telephone bills (which were quarterly), so BT kind of financed me for the first 3 months.
What habits helped make you successful?
Never treated anything as an obstacle: saw a goal and did what it took to get there. So if I wanted to go to London, having to work for 8 months to earn enough money, I simply did what I thought was required, without thinking that it was too expensive or scary or anything else people could have imagined in a similar situation.
What mindsets helped make your successful?
I would never give up. To make sure I did what I set my mind to, I cut off all ways of return, so the only way was to go forward. Learning to love myself was another important thing. That’s how I developed a belief, that diamonds are for poor people. Every time I had a setback and was completely broke or in debt, I bought myself diamonds on a credit card to the limit. I still have that jewellery. Funny enough, when I became rich and successful, I never bought myself diamonds: I’d get them as gifts and even started designing my own jewellery.
What is the lesson that you think is most important for a new entrepreneur to learn and why?
Some people choose a business based on what’s hot and trendy at the moment. And this is a trap that might do you disservice in the future. Things change; fashion comes and goes, but if you choose what you love and are passionate about, and if you would do it for free all day long anyway, it will never be a job. So getting money for what you love doing becomes just a bonus.
How do you balance work & life?
By never working (if you do what you love, it never becomes work) and getting others to do things I don’t want to do, hence leveraging time. The main advise is completely the opposite to what most self development books would teach you: never focus on just 1 thing. That will take your life completely off balance. Make sure you don’t neglect all important to you areas of life: love, relationships, career, hobbies, friends, children, health etc.
If you had to leave 3 guiding principles as a legacy for the next generation, what would they be?
Love yourself: never drive yourself to tiredness or illness over money. Follow you heart: work and rest when you want to.
Do what you love: you can monetise your passion. I succeeded in that and wrote a book, Prosperity Code, so you can do it too. You will be able to buy it soon on www.prosperitycode.co.uk.