Not Something that Starts or Ends

Series: Perspectives on Work, Worth and Faith (Article 6 of 13)

My husband and I met Seun and his wife Nana, over 6 years ago through the church we attended at that time. Since then, we  realized we had a number of friends in common and we’ve spent a few holidays with their family. 

CHRIS-ANN: When you hear the word work, what comes to mind?

SEUN: The first thing that comes to mind is purpose. God will use what I’ve been gifted to do to provide for my family. Based on Genesis, I don’t believe work was meant to be seen as a chore originally and it’s not something that stops or ends. The means of work changes over time at different stages in our lives.

CHRIS-ANN: You said work is not something that stops or ends. What is your perspective on retirement then?

SEUN: My idea of retirement is different. Many people see it as a time to live out their hobbies, go on extended vacations. I’ve found that this only leads to boredom and as an old proverb says, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Hobbies are great but they may not fulfill you. They are meant to help you relax or temporarily escape the stress of life.

My definition of retirement is not having to rely on an active means of livelihood. It’s income accumulated overtime that allows you to transition into something else. This means retiring away to use your passions and gifts to serve others and communities in ways you may not have been able to do while actively working.

CHRIS-ANN: What kind of work do you do? What does it involve?

SEUN: I’m a Certified Financial Planner® at SA Capital Advisors, a fiduciary financial planning firm. I help people live in line with their purpose. There are always financial implications for living out your purpose. I believe we are all called to something and this place is at the intersection of our gifts, passions and the needs of others. Where these 3 things intersect, we examine how we can align your money and create a plan to make sure your financial decisions are congruent.

CHRIS-ANN: Was this what you always wanted to do?

SEUN: I grew up wanting to be a lawyer. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was mine or my parents dream. I grew up in an African household, so there was a priority for education and certain types of careers. I stumbled into finance. I was studying for my LSAT when my dad joined a financial company and invited me to join. I learned about it pretty quickly and I realized I was passionate about it and good at it.

CHRIS-ANN: What inspired you to build your business?

SEUN: At the time, I’d been in the industry for 6 years. I wanted to create something that I did not see in the marketplace at that time. I saw a system where it was more about selling in the name of “financial education” instead preparing and equipping clients to make financial decisions that were best for themselves. Unfortunately, the industry is full of shysters. A product does not equate to a financial plan. A financial plan starts with your personal goals.

A product does not equate to a financial plan. A financial plan starts with your personal goals.

I was already doing a lot of budgeting for clients. Other advisors told me I wouldn’t make any money in it. I still believed that the most important thing was to help people manage their money better, so I had to figure out a way to help people by balancing planning and educating them at the same time.

I had to build a platform on my own that was product agnostic to remove as much conflict of interest as possible: plan first, product if necessary. I had to remove the idea of recommending products for profit and eliminate financial incentive for offering one product over another. The goal was to make sure clients could see they were being put first.

CHRIS-ANN: How long have you been operating your business? What was that journey like?

SEUN: I’ve been operating my company for 6 years now and I’ve been in the industry for over 12 years. The first 2.5 years were challenging. I actually started it part-time while working a full-time job. 

It was a new model. I had to really learn to define and properly articulate what I did, how I did it and who I wanted to serve. The last 4 years have been profitable and I’ve been able to support my family on this income. I’m glad that I started and I now see the industry is moving in the same direction.

CHRIS-ANN: What is some advice you’d give to someone thinking of or in the beginnings of starting their own business?

It doesn’t just spring up. It’s not going to be perfect. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Your first prototype will always be the most inferior; your product model must evolve and change. There is always going to be something to improve. When you’re starting something, do your research. Build your minimum viable product and go from there. Building a business is like building a house, brick by brick.

SEUN: It doesn’t just spring up. It’s not going to be perfect. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Your first prototype will always be the most inferior; your product model must evolve and change. There is always going to be something to improve.

When you’re starting something, do your research. Build your minimum viable product and go from there. Building a business is like building a house, brick by brick. Don’t be too stuck on your own idea, if the market place is telling you something else. I’ve had to rebuild and almost start over a number of times when I realized it wasn’t as viable. You will also need to balance raising fees to make it profitable to provide for your needs and charging what your service is worth. 

CHRIS-ANN: What was one of the hardest things you’ve learned throughout this process?

SEUN: I’ve learned that just because we all identify as believers and go to the same church, it doesn’t mean that someone will be comfortable doing business with you if you’re a different colour. It doesn’t bother me anymore but it did hurt me for a while. 

I remember bringing ideas to church leaders to engage and help those who were interested. I was told they didn’t want to use the church to promote a business. Meanwhile, they would openly promote the businesses of other men in the church that looked like them, even though I had been there for much longer. There were also instances where some would ask for (free) advice, then take that advice and do business with someone who looks like them, even if they were less qualified. 

I’ve had to wear my heart on my sleeve in order to gain credibility, regardless of my qualifications or experience, something I don’t see many of my fellow white professionals having to do. As a result, I’m less vocal about what I do at church. I keep both areas separate.

The reality is everyone is born with certain biases. It doesn’t make it right, but situations like these have made me even more dependent on God and he always provides. He orders my steps. He’s always allowed me to connect with the right clients and I’ve learned to be okay with that.


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