Wake-up call for female entrepreneurs
Author Kim Kiyosaki. Photo: Supplied.
Kim Kiyosaki is an entrepreneur, author and, yes, wife of Robert Kiyosaki, the man behind the worldwide Rich Dad, Poor Dad phenomenon. Like her husband, she is passionate about financial education, particularly among women, and has just released the book It's Rising Time! What it really takes for the reward of financial freedom.
The focus of the book is about building wealth. Specifically about making the right investment decisions so that you are putting your money into assets that will generate positive cash flow for years to come. The concept isn't a new one. In fact, it's the cornerstone of the philosophy she and her husband have been preaching to the world for over a decade when Rich Dad, Poor Dad first burst on the scene.
Despite this, Kiyosaki felt it was important to write the book as a wake-up call to women. While the book is part "how to", it's also a motivational kick up the bum for women who have either neglected their financial planning or have handed over the reins to their partner.
"I think there just comes a time where there's a mindshift that goes 'Sometimes, you're going to have to put yourself first'," she says.
"I think women sometimes think that they're being selfish if they do something for themselves. I think we just have to change that. Your financial life is everything and if you can't take care of yourself financially, how are you going to prepare for your kids and take care of them as well?"
Handing over the reins
There's clearly an audience that needs to hear Kiyosaki's message. I'm still amazed at the number of women I meet who have handed over all their financial affairs to their partner. Or who abdicate all responsibility to a financial planner without bothering to understand where their money is going. Quite frankly, it's scary.
Even if you have the utmost faith in your partner/planner, life doesn't always play out the way you hope. Like Laurel (not her real name), a savvy business owner who spent her entire life building a business with her husband, running the entire company on her own when he was ill for many years. She assumed he had looked after their financial affairs but when he died without updating his will, she was left with nothing. Years of anguish-filled litigation ensued.
When I speak to women about why they find it so hard take control of their finances within a marriage, it often boils down to ego. That is, not wanting to hurt their partner's seemingly fragile one. My friend Sally says that she didn't ask her husband to sign a pre-nuptial agreement – or binding financial arrangement – even though she was the one with all the assets when they got married. "I just couldn't have brought it up," she says. "He would have been appalled."
Kiyosaki agrees. "It's the ego. It's like walking on eggshells. It's a really tough conversation but I think the woman can communicate something like: 'I'm worried that I might end up like one of these women, I want to work with you on this'. It's a conversation that's very delicate and some work and some don't. The important thing is that if, as a woman, you really want to move forward on this, don't let that stop you."
Although the book is aimed at women from all walks of life (including non-business owners), Kiyosaki is especially passionate about the financial decisions of female entrepreneurs. "I think a lot of women create a business because they want the extra spending money, like an extra $1000, $2000 or $3000 a month," she says. "That's why they start it."
However, Kiyosaki says that one of the biggest mistakes female business owners make is when they are not clear on the purpose of their business. "What is it that you really want to accomplish and what's the bigger plan for your business? Ideally, how do you want to build it to the point where you don't have to be in it anymore?"
I can already hear some of you say that you're not in business so that you can get out of it. You actually enjoy your work and want to be involved with your business. That's not Kiyosaki's point. "When I talk about financial freedom I hear a lot of women say: 'I'll never sell my baby. I'll never give it up.'
"I also hear women say: 'I love it. I'm going to work forever.' Well, that's fine if you want to do that but don't you want to have the choice to maybe not have to work forever? Or to have your money working for you so you can choose? Again, it comes down to freedom so that you can choose to live the life that you want to live."
Hobby vs business
Kiyosaki is passionate about encouraging women to play a bigger game when it comes to business. "I think sometimes women just think a little too small when it comes to their business," she says. "They need to think bigger. It comes down to an entrepreneurial mindset. From the start, I would just think big. See what happens!"
Both Kim and Robert Kiyosaki are strong advocates for investing in property. They believe that, when you make the right investment decisions, this is an ideal asset to invest in - and hold on to - in order to generate positive cash flow.
When it comes to choosing between investing in property and starting a business to build wealth, Kiyosaki says: "If business is something you love, I would probably say start with that. That's what I did. I started with a business and our philosophy was always that we would build the business. If you currently have a job, start a part-time business, do something on weekends, start an online business. Start the business and then the cash flow from your business buys your investments and your assets."
Working with your spouse
It's an approach that Kiyosaki and her husband have adopted throughout their domestic and business partnership. "I knew from very early on that I wanted my life partner to be my business partner," she says, acknowledging that while working with your spouse – particularly a high-profile one – can be powerful, it can also be fraught with challenges.
"It's not for everybody, but I wouldn't do it any other way," she says. "Sometimes, we have to agree to disagree. And it takes a while because we're both very hard-headed. We're both independent and we both want to be right.
"I'd say that to have an ongoing healthy marriage is probably the toughest thing. And to have an ongoing healthy business would be the second toughest thing!"
Kiyosaki has obviously overcome these challenges thanks to sharing the same values in business and life.
"My first gift from Robert wasn't jewellery. It wasn't a nice dinner out. It wasn't a trip somewhere," she says. "It was an accounting class. That was my very first gift – an accounting class. He wanted to teach me about assets and liabilities. I thought it was kind of romantic."
It's a partnership that works. The pair has not only celebrated 25 years of marriage, they have also built an empire, one that is going to expand into a worldwide radio show and an online game focused on financial education.
While your partner may not be inclined to give you an accounting class for your next anniversary, Kiyosaki is adamant that financial education should be a priority for any female business owner - or certainly, for women in general. "It's about building up confidence," she says. "That's why I wrote It's Rising Time! With every step, you learn something new. Even though it's going to be uncomfortable at times, the more you learn, the more your confidence builds. I think women sometimes sell themselves short. They just need to think bigger and go forward."
The Australian Businesswomen's Network is running a webinar with Kim Kiyosaki on February 22.