Enoch Ko's No BS Guide to Personal Finance & Entrepreneurship

Sir Richard Branson and Tim Ferriss spoke this weekend at the 21st Century Financial Education Summit in Melbourne and they were fantastic! But most other speakers mainly talked fluff and gave hard-to-implement BS advice in order to sell their products.

I have a very low tolerance for fluff and BS. So here’s my “No BS Guide to Personal Finance & Entrepreneurship”!

Who Is This For?
This guide is for beginners - people who have just started learning about personal finance and entrepreneurship. It’s for those who are sick of the bullshit no-substance advice and products being flogged at the 21st Century Financial Education Summit.

This guide is for those who want to take immediate action and get real results towards success and becoming financially educated.

Automate Your Personal Finances
No one keeps a budget or keep track of their expenses. Even though I’m an accountant & a finance geek who track my finances, I still automate my personal finance because it gives me the peace of mind that I will have enough money for the rent at the end of every month and I will be able to pay all my utility bills that come once every 2-3 months. I don’t have to worry whether I’ll be able to afford to service my car and pay car insurance because they’re all taken care of!

This is an actionable idea that you can implement IMMEDIATELY! Unlike the products being hawked at the summit, you don’t need any capital or any significant amount of research to do this. Get started by reading Ramit Sethi’s guide to automating your personal finances.

For Australian readers, here are the bank accounts I personally use:
  • NAB Classic Banking - everyday banking with no monthly account fees!
  • NAB iSaver - temporary parking account for my salary and general expenses (not an essential account to have, but I use this in my automatic cash flow system).
  • UBank - no-fee high-interest savings account that supports up to 10 sub-accounts for you to allocate funds to different areas. This is where I allocate money for rent, utilities, car, education, savings, emergency funds, discretionary expense, etc.

Do you have a question on how to automate your personal finances? Email me!
contact [at] enochko (dot) com

Buying a House
Real estate is outside my area of expertise, but I recommend checking out Ramit Sethi's fantastic collection of articles on buying a house!

Recommended Reading on Personal Finance
I Will Teach You To Be Rich - by Ramit Sethi
The title of the book sounds like a scam, but I guarantee that it is NOT a scam and is very educational and enlightening. This book is structured as a 6-week program to get your personal finances in order. In particular, I would recommend reading week 1 on credit cards, week 4 on conscious spending, week 5 on automatic money flows, and week 6 on investing choices.

Still worried? Check out excerpts from the book here - Introduction & Chapter 1: Optimize Your Credit Cards.

A word of warning - the chapter on investment accounts is contains US-based information, such as 401(k), Roth IRA, etc. Those specific accounts may not be relevant for Australian and other international readers, but the principles still apply.

Entrepreneurship and Starting Your Own Business
If you are just starting out and have absolutely no ideas about businesses, the language of business can be quite overwhelming. There are, literally, tens of thousands of books and millions of articles you can read online.

The curse of expertise means that I can’t really say where a beginner should begin learning about business. My knowledge came from reading over 50 books, hundreds of magazine articles and thousands of online articles and blog posts and accumulated business knowledge through half a decade of practical experience. I can’t possibly remember the point when I started to understand business.

That said, if you can only read ONE book, I would recommend The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman. He has distilled the building blocks of business into hundreds of 2-3 page easy-to-understand mental models. Josh’s book covers everything from “what is a business?” to marketing, sales, finance, psychology and systems. Once you get the big picture about business, you can dive in read further to develop in-depth knowledge in each area.

This book will help you even if you don’t want to starting your own business. Businesses are the primary driving force in our economy. Even if you have no interest in starting your own business, understanding how businesses work will help you understand how the world works.

Recommended Books for Australia and New Zealand
If you are a reader from Australia and New Zealand, Amazon UK is currently offering FREE shipping for purchases over £25 (offer ends October 31st, 2011). To buy the books I recommended, use these links to go to Amazon UK:

These 2 items add up to £18.18. If you have a book costing over £6.82 that you want to buy, you’ll be able to reach £25 to qualify for the free shipping. Compare prices with Amazon US, you may save more buying from Amazon UK due to the high shipping costs from US.

If you don’t have any particular book you want to buy on Amazon UK, then I would recommend buying The Boglehead’s Guide to Investing (£11.69) to learn about investing in shares.

Recommended Blogs
If you read blogs, I recommend using Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feed from blogs. If you don’t want to use a RSS reader like Google Reader, then you can subscribe via email.

Follow on Twitter

  • Enoch Ko - Me! I share useful articles on business.
  • Ramit Sethi - Personal finance, entrepreneurship, psychology and behavioural change.
  • Daniel Pink - Author of Drive, posts lots of useful links.

Want More?
Like what you’ve read? Interested in reading more? Sign up to my mailing list now!

Subscribe to my mailing list

I publish my recommended reading for entrepreneurs every week. I have a soft cap of 5 articles per week, so you won’t be overwhelmed with things to read.

Note that my recommended reading may be quite advanced - I pick them for people who are entrepreneurs and run their own business. But even if you are a beginner and you don’t fully understand the articles, they are still useful for you - because they tell you where the gaps in your knowledge are so you can go fill in those gaps!

If you are interested in starting your own business, please complete this survey and I will contact you for a free consultation to help you get started.

If you already operate your own business but don’t know how to take it to the next level, email me with your details for a free consultation:
contact [at] enochko (dot) com

Enoch Ko is an accountant based in Melbourne, Australia.
Connect on LinkedIn | Follow on Twitter | Blog | Bookstore

Click here to sign up to my mailing list for blog updates and "Enoch Ko's Recommended Reading for Entrepreneurs".

Losers Have Goals... Winners Have Systems!

“My philosophy is that losers have goals and winners have systems.”
I would extend idea that to business.

Dumb businesses have goals, and smart businesses have systems.

Why are Systems Superior to Goals?
“I try to buy stock in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.”
- Warren Buffett

Goals prescribe the desired outcomes, but it depends on the quality of the people's performance to create that outcome.

Fool-proof systems produce the desired outcomes regardless of the people who may stand in the way or mess things up.

Delivering Consistent Customer Experience
In The E-Myth, Michael Gerber described experience at a barbershop versus his experience at a hotel.

His experience at the barbershop changed every time he went to the shop. There was no consistency of experience. On the other hand, the hotel had systems that created a consistently high quality customer experience for him.

If you want to wow and enchant your customers, like the Apple store for example, you better create systems to consistently deliver that experience to your customers.

Producing High Quality Products and Services
ISO 9001 is arguably the most globally recognised quality management systems standard.

Part of standard requires you to have systems and procedures to deal with everything from product development to manufacturing to customer interaction.

The result of having systems specified by ISO 9001 is that you can be assured of the quality of your products and services delivered and, should any problems arise, you will have the systems and processes to resolve them.

Liberating Yourself from the Business
Tim Ferriss started a sports nutrition company to escape corporate life - only to end up working 80+ hour work weeks and feeling miserable. It took a nervous breakdown for him to use the 80/20 principle to focus his business and delegate responsibilities to assistants. With that breakthrough, he was able to live and breathe The 4-Hour Workweek.

As Michael Gerber said in The E-Myth, most people who start businesses are Technicians - people who are great at doing the technical work. But to be an Entrepreneur, you will need to creating sustainable business systems, take yourself out of the business and have other people work your system. You need to work ON your business, not IN it.

Once you have a business system in place and liberated yourself from the business, you can franchise your business, sell your business, or just kick back and watch your business systems runs itself.

How to Create Systems for Your Business?
I highly recommend reading The 4-Hour Workweek and The E-Myth Revisited. I also recommend reading The Checklist Manifesto to learn how checklists can help you fool-proof your systems - they even helped the best hospitals with highly skilled surgeons avoid errors!

Are you struggling with creating, implementing or optimising systems for your business? Just drop me an email - contact [at] enochko (dot) com - tell me what you are struggling with and I will see how I can help.

I will be more than happy to share my experiences in creating and optimising business processes and in implementing ISO 9001 quality management systems.

Enoch Ko is an accountant based in Melbourne, Australia.
LinkedIn | TwitterBlog | Bookstore

Click here to sign up to my mailing list for blog updates and "Enoch Ko's Recommended Reading for Entrepreneurs".