Who are you and what business did you start?
I am the CEO and Director of Smart Money Solutions, which is a mortgage broking firm. Through my personal brand I offer coaching and workshops on money management, goal setting and personal finance. I am also a speaker and an author. I have written two books – ‘Smart Women, Smart Home loans: what your lenders won’t tell you’ and ‘Smart Women, Smart Habits: powerful practices to create your ideal financial future’.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I graduated in Science – Masters in Biotechnology from India. I had an arranged marriage and came to Melbourne. I couldn’t land a job in Biotech, even being a University Topper. It got me frustrated at that time and my partner suggested I try mortgage broking. There was resistance for 2 years, but when I didnt get a job in science that I worked hard for, I decided to get into mortgage broking.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Once I decided to go into mortgage broking, the question was whether I wanted to work for someone or launch my business with zero knowledge of not only finance but also running a business. As luck/fate would have it, I started my business. I had the opportunity to be mentored for a couple of years, the first three months of which I was paid. After that, I was a true entrepreneur – having to find my clients. There was blood, sweat and tears for many months, but I persisted.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Gosh, there has been a lot of things I tried. I realised I needed JV partnerships to get a steady stream of clients. I attended many networking events, made many phone calls to random businesses who were willing to a JV trial. It took a really long time to get that steady flow of clients, but the best strategy that has always worked for me is to treat clients the way I would myself. My mantra was if I wouldn’t do something in my personal life, then don’t do it/offer it to my clients. It is that simple but it has truly made a difference over the years to attract word-of-mouth business and retain customers. I have also sold/given away over 700 copies of my book ‘Smart Women, Smart Homeloans’ which is a guide for first home buyers. My passion is to work with women and hence both my books are titled that way, but regardless the information is relevant to everyone.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Having completed my 12th year in business, I am very proud to say that I am not just sustaining, but thriving in my business. I now have a few VAs helping me with various aspects of my business. I also started my coaching business through my personal brand (ObuRamaraj) and want to help women take control of their lives, especially their finance. I see myself spreading my message on various stages in front of large audiences.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
They say starting a business is a spiritual journey in itself and I am a very spiritual person. Through the umpteen no’s, ups and downs, I have learnt not to give up, to not base my self-worth on a ‘no’, and all that matters is that I try every single day without being too focused on the result. When I have put in the work, the results appear one way or the other. What I mean is sometimes the results have been beyond what I imagined (in a good way).
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I have my mortgage broking CRM. But other than that I have used Pipedrive and Hootsuite. Right now I’m using SocialBee, Aweber, Active Pipe and of course WordPress for my websites.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Books – Autobiography of a Yogi, Richard Branson’s ‘Losing my Virginity’ & ‘Screw business as usual’, The Divine Matrix and many others. My current fav podcast is Stay Grounded with Raj Jana.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Seek out mentors – people you admire, either in your field or even in another field. A lot of successful people want to give back. I’ve had random coffee catch ups where I picked up nuggets of wisdom and some even resulted in JV partnerships.