Lessons learnt in investing by Ashutosh Tiwari.


Time flies!

Hard to believe that it's been five years since I started my own venture, SAFAL Partners, which is a professional service firm focusing on business investments, management consulting and complex problem solving work in all sectors (i.e. both public and private sectors). On reflection, here are the 10 lessons that I have learnt.

1. Find and work ONLY with good partners. The test of a good partner is not competence or skills or networks or pedigree, but his or her character: that is, what does the person really do when no one is looking. If the character is not there, it does not matter what else is there in that business partner.

2. Hire people for attitude, diligence and intelligence -- not so much for experience, which is really not as important as it used to be. Train and mentor them well so that your valuable time ends up being free for you to pursue new and better opportunities for the firm. This way, you get to focus on the right future for the firm, while the people you have hired and trained can focus on making the present better.

3. Overcommunicate with colleagues, clients and investors -- always! Few people anywhere have been fired for overcommunicating with colleagues, clients and investors!

4. Give your people autonomy to do their best work and deliver the results. But do spend some quality time upfront to make sure that their idea of what results look like and your idea of what the results look like are EXACTLY the same.

5. Serve basic lunch at the office everyday. The benefits far outweigh the costs.

6. Be frugal when you are funded by investors (like we were until the middle of 2020). You can always spend a little bit more on the office amenities after the investors leave with their return, and when more and more customers come to you for business solutions -- making you, then, essentially, a customer-funded business.

7. Candor, frankness and honesty -- in all your dealings. Sometimes, the truth will hurt, but only in the short run. Long-term, all truths lead to improvement, and, even better, to a clear conscience and a good night's sleep.

8. Ask more questions than you have answers for -- always! Asking questions is the best way to learn anything and everything. Questions keep the mind engaged and productive.

9. Listen to others, seek feedback, mull over others' suggestions -- but at the end of the day, do your own homework, do your own thinking, make your own decisions, own your own results and find your own truths.

10. No matter how bleak some days/weeks or even months are, especially in the early days when you are just starting out, trust yourself that there will be much better days ahead, and that those days will arrive sooner than you expect! They will!! One more (bonus) lesson:

11. Keep a list of all your mistakes, especially of your "bad" decisions. Review the list from time to time, and learn from your decision errors.