Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Business of Money

I remember reading in Colin Tipping’s wonderful book ‘Radical Manifestation’ that people get more worked up when asked about their money issues than when asked about their sex lives. Money is a subject that most people are extremely uncomfortable with – perhaps because it can instantly measure us up in terms of our worth. (Somehow we all like to think we are too smart and too rich and that no one knows what we are really worth!) Numbers surrounding money are always taboo, handling money is stressful and everyone lives in a state of denial, almost acting as if it did not matter at all!

Our attitude to money
Also people do all kinds of weird things with money – store it, eat it, stuff it, hide it, stack it - do everything but enjoy it. Most people die because of the stress they bring upon themselves by handling all that money. Others lose it as fast as they can get their hands on it. Only a few know the art of making money and enjoying it. These few are the ones who are comfortable with money. It is important therefore to know how comfortable one is with money and what our primary relationship with it is. Is it one of fear, resentment, guilt, love, respect? It is worth finding out.

Money and the successful businessman
Money is primarily associated with business. But not all businessmen make money. Most go bust because they lose lots of money in their business. Obviously the successful businessman is the one who understands money, who respects money and most importantly who is comfortable with money. They understand money for what it is – and the quantum does not really bother them. They use it well, as a dynamic living thing. The money of a successful businessman never lies idle – it is always alive and kicking, earning more money for him. He keeps money active and energetic, never hiding it or burying it. He is also not too bothered when it flows out – he knows it will flow in again as long as he does not panic.

The key metric
I was talking to a businessman friend of mine and we were wondering about the one thing about business that would get all things under control - the one factor that drives everything about business, or rather successful businesses. We figured it must be money because if you have this overwhelming love for money then you are driven to do most other things in a business right. From the product to the marketing to the finances to the people the businessman who loves money and wants it to grow more and more will certainly take care of all these aspects and well. They are the reason why his money grows and he knows that.

One could say that one could love the product and it will do well anyway, or that one loves people but nothing builds empires, big empires, as much as the love for money does. And it is a difficult thing to love money mainly because money scares most people – at least beyond a point it does. There is only so much money that each one can handle, mentally.

How much can you handle now?
How many of us can say we can handle infinite amounts of money? Very few. It would be so scary that it would kill us. But there are a few who can handle money – and they are the ones who are somehow comfortable with it.. they know they can let it go because they are also sure it will come back, that they can earn it again any time. Most others don’t have this confidence and hence hide and cling on to it.

Money and Business School training
The one reason why business schools produce managers who may not be good enough to handle business is that the students are never exposed to money. There is no talk of money, of how much they can handle, what they would do with money, how they would raise money, what money means to them, what their capacity and comfort level is with money, what their attitude is to money. If they cannot ever figure out what their relationship is with money and if they cannot get comfortable with the prospect of having and handling money, they can never understand or run a business successfully. I would love to see them take a few hundred or thousand and try to make that money work for them during the course itself – in two years they would have learnt much about handling money, handling themselves and learning all the wonderful things that money can teach them. I would love to see them do a course titled 'Money management' or something simpler like 'My relationship with money!'

What would you ask?
I also remember a television show before Diwali when the anchor was asking random people on the road what they would ask for if Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth appeared before them and asked them what they wanted. Most businessmen (small businesses) said that they would be happy with something like Rs. 50000 and even that they were apologetic. The anchor kept telling them that it is the Goddess of wealth and they can ask for more but they were all uncomfortable with it. Then she asked a kid of six or eight years old and she instantly spread her hands wide and said 'Soooo much.'

We'd do better to first unlearn our negative attitudes to money (those of us who need to). We'd do better to understand our relationship with money and rectify it and bring it to one of trust and respect and love instead of distrust and resentment and fear. We'd also do better to give it space and letting it flow and grow instead of locking it up and killing it. And mostly we'd do better not to pass on these negative beliefs to children who seem to have a fine attitude with money before we spoil it all for them.


Madhav said...

I saw a show on tv about big lottery winners. All of them in a matter of a couple of years are broke divorced and miserable.

I guess thats why I don't buy lottery tickets.

Harimohan said...

Yes Madhav that is something even I heard about. That lottery ticket winners actually go back to a worse situation than they were before in a couple of years. There are also many stories have heard about beggars or old people who have a fortune under their blanket but they live in conditions that are pitiable. Fear driven surely. But it is surely worth looking at, if nothing else, to get more familiar with money.