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Meet The Money Coach Helping Women Turn Their Six-Figure Incomes Into A Seven-Figure Net Worth

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April Stewart, April The Money Coach, LLC
Photo Credit: Mecca Gamble

Living paycheck to paycheck is a reality that more than three-quarter of Americans face. In the midst of a pandemic, millions of households found it difficult to cover usual expenses such as food, rent or mortgage and car payments. Even an unexpected bill has one in ten high income earners teetering on the edge of financial disaster.

The curveballs of 2020 caused many six-figure earners to run into financial hardship when their income was impacted and they had no savings. According to April “The Money Coach” Stewart, the uncertainty of these times led many women to leave their dreams of building wealth on the table. Stewart coaches women on how to create a wealth building plan so that it does not have to be this way.

As a coach, educator, and self-made millionaire, Stewart says, “when it comes to financial success, it doesn’t have to be complicated.” Not having her own perfect blueprint for her road to millions allowed her to see that women need a simple strategy to implement. Coming from humble beginnings, Stewart notes that she was raised in a low-income household where money was not discussed in a positive way and there was no one to teach financial literacy as her parents struggled to make ends meet. “I call it a fear based relationship with money because I was taught that there wasn’t enough of it,” recalls Stewart, “basically where you have a lot of negative thoughts, a lot of angst, anxiety, stress around money. For me, it was not trusting that money would be available for me. I thought it was a limited resource.”

This indoctrinated thinking is what Stewart believes can have long-term implications, especially for Black households. “No one really looks at us and thinks that we have the potential to become millionaires. So we’re not taught about building wealth in schools and in our families,” says Stewart. “And then sometimes, there are those who have some money, have a good job and accumulate something but often have a tax of helping family members, which can drag on their wealth building potential.”

In the earlier years of her career, Stewart was no stranger to this reality. A high-earner with nothing to show for it, she was just one emergency away from a disaster. Little did she know, such an emergency was right around the corner. After buying her first home and car, she lost her job. With a plan and perseverance, she eventually landed a job and vowed to teach herself finance principles in order to transform her relationship with money.

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Stewart’s millionaire money journey led to releasing the weight of her overwhelming debt, building a 12-month emergency fund, and drawing a monthly roadmap to guide her to her financial goals. This calculated approach became her five step financial methodology that she now uses to help other women do the same, including cultivating a Millionaire Money Mindset, Millionaire Spending Plan, Debt Elimination Plan, Cash Reserve Plan and a Wealth Game Plan. Stewart’s mission for the high-earning professional clients she works with is to leverage her own learnings to guide women to devise their plan to become millionaires in just six weeks.

Here she shares some of her best advice to help women turn their six-figure incomes into a seven-figure net worth.

Take Control Of Your Money Story

The vast majority of us are not natural-born savers, so Stewart’s advice is to be intentional about your dialogue around money. A simple repositioning of the thought, ‘saving is not exciting’ can instead focus on a statement that motivates you, such as ‘saving may not excite me, but my goals do. I will focus on WHY I am saving.’ Rewriting your money story and affirming your success is a muscle that Stewart believes to be the foundation of a millionaire money mindset. As she defines it, a money story is your relationship with money over time – an understanding of where you have been with money, where you currently are and then which financial milestones you would like to reach. “It is important to define it so you can transform your story,” says Stewart. “I want more women to feel empowered to take control of their money because regardless of where you are right now, you can always change that. Your money story is not written for you, you get to create it.”

via Instagram
Credit: April Stewart

Develop The Discipline For Becoming A Millionaire

People sometimes shy away from financial discipline because they believe that taking control of their finances could mean giving up a lifestyle that they are accustomed to. Yet, having a money strategy is what creates millionaires. “A lot of times it is not having insight into exactly what you are spending on a consistent basis and not having a plan for how you should direct your money. Sometimes people think that this can be restrictive or limiting, but it is actually freeing,” says Stewart. “Once I started to create a monthly spending plan or budget, I actually learned that I could do more with money. I realized that I had more money than I thought.” Finding money that Stewart was not aware she possessed is the reason why she advocates for creating a millionaire spending plan. Learning how to effectively manage cash flow so that you can make the best use of your resources can begin with the basics – a consistent assessment of your income to expenses ratio. “If you do not know how to approach a budget or spending plan but you know your income and expenses, look at that equation to make sure your expenses are not over your income. Work to make that equation in your favor to where you have more surplus at the end” Stewart advises. “It is important to pay attention to your cash flow because if you are maxed out and you are spending every single thing you make, you won’t have anything to invest and build wealth with.”

Take A Simple Approach To Wealth Creation

Creating the opportunity for wealth begins with having a debt elimination plan. For Stewart, it is about first learning the effect debt has on your peace of mind — and how you can stop it from diminishing your financial flexibility. Finding out what it takes to become and remain debt free, means the possibility of earning interest instead of paying it. Once eliminating debt, extra money should be allocated to building a cash reserve that will position you for threats and opportunities alike.

The fastest way to attain millionaire status is investments. “I definitely believe in the stock market and investing but a lot of times it is intimidating for women because they feel like you have to know the hottest trends,” Stewart describes. “However, you can invest in an index fund, which is a mixture of stocks, and you are protected there because it is diversified.” Overcoming this feeling of intimidation when it comes to investing begins with being educated on common myths that stand in the way of financial abundance, such as believing that ‘only the rich can invest’. “This is incorrect and untrue,” says Stewart. “In fact, investing is how so many of the rich became rich. They invest early and often in order to build wealth.” For those who believe investing is too complicated, Stewart responds, “I honestly used to believe the same thing. That’s because I was listening to the talking heads that were making it scary and complicated. When the truth is that investing should be simple and boring.”

Sacrifice Now For A Greater Return

The obstacle that six figure income earners sometimes face is wanting to enjoy their high wage with luxury experiences and purchases, so what Stewart teaches is not about deprivation or restriction. Instead, she says it is about focus, “I want to encourage you to make some of those short term trade offs so that you can achieve your goals. Have your financial foundation set up and everything in place, then just let your money continue to do smart things and let it build wealth over time.” Implementing your money goal strategy can be achieved in four steps. First, write them down and place them somewhere you can see them often. Be specific about what you envision. Instead of saying, “I want to do better with money”…say, “I want to pay off $15,000 of debt in 1 year.” Next make your goal measurable – break your $15,000 debt repayment goal by weekly or monthly steps. Lastly, give yourself a target to aim for by setting a deadline. Stewart recommends making your financial goals relevant to your own lifestyle. You can set goals to cash flow a home renovation, eliminate student debt, or save for a sabbatical from work. “Different people value different things,” advises Stewart. “So if there are things you really value, I want you to spend your money on those because they bring you happiness. You will be more encouraged to stick with your financial plan if you are able to enjoy the process along the way.”

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MDR services and managing cybersecurity within your business | Carousel Industries

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MDR services and managing cybersecurity within your business | Carousel Industries

No matter the size, industry, or location, nearly every company today has a cybersecurity strategy. But there are many methodologies your organization can use to protect its digital assets and determining the right approach for your business means balancing your desired cybersecurity posture against your resource availability of staff and money.

Given the evolving threat landscape, reputation damage and financial harm that can result from a security incident, midsize organizations often struggle to determine how to implement an effective cybersecurity strategy while still being cost efficient.

We regularly work with clients who have these same questions. Through our years of experience building out a team of highly skilled cybersecurity experts, we’ve seen first-hand how demanding it can be—from both the cost and headcount standpoints—to develop and maintain an internal MDR. To help illustrate why expenses mount so quickly and how time-consuming the work conducted by a cybersecurity team really is, we’re launching a series of blog posts that dive into the details.

What does an effective cybersecurity team look like?

It’s important to understand the four distinct disciplines or roles that typically form the core of any skilled cybersecurity team.

Governance, risk management, and compliance

This function is sometimes part of the IT department but more often it’s a component within the risk management team. The role focuses on internal audit and third-party risk management functions and likely has a direct reporting line to the CISO when part of the IT team.

Threat management

Threat detection and incident response are at the heart of the threat management team, encompassing 24/7 monitoring of the company’s assets with risk mitigation related to attacks and security breaches. This group leverages a complex set of tools, which are necessary for not only monitoring but also analysis, forensic investigations, attack mitigation, breach containment, and remediation.

Security operations

SecOps utilizes tools that are core to the protection of the organization’s assets and the team’s responsibilities range across applications, endpoints, identity, edge, network, monitoring on compliance, management, and DevOps. The SecOps role focuses on the health, care, and feeding of the tools and platforms used to accomplish their tasks and ensuring activities are in alignment with best practices.

Transformation

In order to remain compliant with evolving regulatory standards and maintain parity with the constantly changing threat landscape, an organization must continuously re-assess and update its tools and technologies. The group managing the company’s digital transformation efforts needs to have a strategy and long-term plans to ensure new implementations align with the organization’s use cases and requirements over time.

Looking at the math of cybersecurity

Of the four core areas described above, threat management and SecOps are the most resource intensive and expensive components of a cybersecurity program. Threat management is complex and difficult, and it doesn’t scale down well. Minimum viable coverage 24/7 across the various key areas—threat monitoring, threat research and hunting, pen testing, content development, attack simulation, and incident response among them—typically requires at least 15-20 people based on deep research conducted as part of a master’s dissertation focused exclusively on the topic. That level of coverage provides only a single resource in each of the senior roles and doesn’t allow for redundancy. An effective, properly staffed threat management function is nearly impossible to accomplish without a hefty budget available to launch and sustain operations. Attaining similar coverage within a SOC operation is equally prohibitive, requiring more than two dozen individuals with highly targeted skills and expertise.

There are relationships between spend levels and security postures that are relatively similar throughout the SME space. Looking across the available reports, mid-market companies report their IT budgets are typically about 7% of revenue. From there, SMEs say they spend an average of between 10% and 15% of their total IT budget on security. Depending on the organization and its industry, cybersecurity spend can reach 25% of the overall IT budget.

From there, the math reveals just how difficult it is for SMEs to staff and fund a high-performing cybersecurity team completely within their own organization. Using the minimum resource count of 15 people and an average blended rate of $100,000 per headcount, the threat management salary bill alone could tally $1.5 million per year. Assuming the business has 25% of the IT budget available to use for cybersecurity—and also assuming the technology stack would only cost about double the salary bill—then the annual revenue of the organization needs to top $250 million to make an all-internal cybersecurity architecture financially feasible. Utilization rates and other factors may still render it undesirable from a monetary standpoint, potentially even having a negative ROI if the minimum viable requirements fall short of meeting the company’s needs.

Creating the right cybersecurity architecture

So how can midsize firms develop a cybersecurity strategy that blends key internal headcount resources with the right level of external expertise? How can your business keep costs reasonable without sacrificing quality, either in the skills or technology available to protect the organization’s systems and data assets?

There are strong business justifications for maintaining some services in-house and equally important use cases that point to cost-effective outsourcing for other functions. A carefully constructed blend of internal headcount and external expertise provides the monitoring, detection, and response capabilities you need with a financial commitment that fits your budget. The assessments of where those functions are best positioned are covered in more detail in the next post in our cybersecurity series to help you find the right balance for your organization.

This content was originally published here.

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Business Of One: Collective Gathers $20M For Self-Employed Financial Services

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Business Of One: Collective Gathers $20M For Self-Employed Financial Services

Subscription-based back-office platform Collective returns with another round of funding, this time a $20 million Series A supported by returning players and a group of new and notable backers.

The new funding comes eight months after the San Francisco-based company raised $8.65 million in seed investment. Its platform provides “businesses of one” with tailored financial services, including access to trusted advisers who oversee accounting, tax, bookkeeping and business formation needs.

“It has been a tremendous period of growth since our seed round,” CEO Hooman Radfar told Crunchbase News. “We’ve had 20,000 members join the waitlist and experienced 8x to 9x growth since that point in membership. We are saving people in businesses of one $16,000 per year and helping them become self-employed.”

General Catalyst is again leading the new round and was joined by Ashton Kutcher, via Sound Ventures, as well as existing investors Expa, QED Investors and Gradient Ventures. Other notable investors include Steve Chen, Hamish McKenzie, Aaron Levie, Kevin Lin, Sam Yam, Li Jin, Shadiah Sigala, Adrian Aoun, Holly Liu, Andrew Dudum and Edward Hartman. This round brings Collective’s total funding to $28.65 million, according to Crunchbase data.

Radfar, along with co-founders Ugur Kaner and Bugra Akcay, launched Collective in September 2020 to go after 59 million self-employed workers in the U.S. who balance administrative tasks with building their business. That number is projected to be 86.5 million by 2027.

The company saw its revenue grow by more than 250 percent in the past year. As such, Radfar intends to invest the new funding in scaling the business, the automation roadmap and new hires.

“We are thinking about our members first and on making them successful,” he added. “We will expand our team to handle the demand and get people off of the waitlist. We continue to make investments in automation, including quarterly tax estimates, and you can also speak with someone from Collective to help you do your taxes.”

Once the tax season is closed out in June, Collective will focus on building on its team of 30, Radfar said. He is currently looking to bring in a person to partner with him on recruiting and developing the talent Collective already has, as well as seek out operations and product technology.

Meanwhile, Niko Bonatsos, managing director of General Catalyst, said the future of the self-employed space will involve earning the trust of individuals, and he believes that Collective has a good foundation there, as well as a strong market fit and team.

“When you have that trust, you can then begin to layer other services, such as benefits and insurance,” he said in an interview. “We felt Collective could emerge as a category-defining company as millions of people are forming businesses of one. More startups are getting incorporated than ever before during the pandemic, so we are on the right side of history.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

This content was originally published here.

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He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services

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Eugene Danilkis has raised close to $175M to reengineer how financial and banking services are designed and delivered.

During our interview on the Dealmakers Show Danilkis shared his adventures into entrepreneurship, his perspective on taking risks, fundraising and growing as a startup CEO.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here. 

Travel & New Perspectives On Risk

Eugene Danilkis was born in Ukraine when it was still part of the Soviet Union. He didn’t know why his parents were teaching him English when he was still barely learning to speak their native Russian language. It wasn’t until they hopped on a train to leave the country when he was just seven years old that it all made sense to him.

After spending six months in Italy, they finally arrived in Canada, where he spent most of his early life growing up in Vancouver.

He says being thrown into a new culture and language actually motivated him to learn, and as quickly as possible. Partially for survival, but also to thrive, and because so many benefits came from it.

This big transition also gave Eugene a whole new perspective on risk. He saw the big risk his parents took moving their family halfway across the world to a completely new environment. When it came to thinking about entrepreneurship he realized that any potential downsides would be trivial compared to the risks his parents had taken to bring him so far already. He knew what hard was, and he wasn’t afraid of failing at work.

He also credits his parents with offering tremendous support and encouraging him to go above and beyond in applying himself to his studies. That helped him excel in math and computer science.

After college he landed a job writing software that would be used by NASA on the International Space Station

After college he landed a job with the Canadian Space Agency, writing software for NASA satellites.

That experience again set the bar pretty high for what could keep him engaged and interested. Pursuing his Master’s degree seemed like a new challenge worthy of taking on. Even more so when the opportunity arose to get his degree in the US at Carnegie Mellon.

It would be an exciting new adventure to embrace. One with more travel and learning ahead. A chance to start from scratch and explore. So, he gave up his apartment, got rid of his furniture, and got ready to take off with just what he could carry in suitcases.

That program ended up taking him to even more countries, including Portugal, Germany and Netherlands. A lot of the time was also spent working on banking software for a corporate sponsor.

Venturing Into Entrepreneurship

During this program Eugene and his co-founders learned a lot about the world of banking and finance. They saw a great opportunity to innovate and build on the technology side, and to have a big impact. They could see this huge trend happening. This was their chance to ride that wave.

So, again he leaped into a new adventure. Making that leap, and giving up a job, salary, and moving to a new place is what keeps most people stagnant, and on the sidelines.

From his experiences growing up, Eugene says there really was no downside. He could always go back and get a job if he really wanted to. In the worst-case scenario, at least he would get the chance to learn a lot. It was all upside potential.

So, again he leapt into a new adventure. And together they started Mambu.

Mambu

They spent the first year bootstrapping and figuring out exactly what they were building.

The two of them used consulting and software development to pay the bills and keep their exploratory work running. They built a prototype and then found the backing of some angel investors. That made it real for them. Though it would still be several years before they really made it big.

In fact, looking back and considering his top advice for starting a business with this hindsight, he says he would spend less time trying to convince customers and investors of what they had built already and put more emphasis on transparently iterating and building customized solutions along with their paying customers and shareholders.

Eugene describes Mambu as a SaaS platform for banking like Salesforce is to CRM. The back-office system for banks, lenders, and other fintech businesses to design and manage how their products work. It is an accelerating space in which he sayshas  infinite evolutions as consumers and products change in the future.

To date, they have raised $175 million at a $2 billion valuation.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Eugene Danilkis was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Establishing Clarity & Focus

Some of the great takeaways from this podcast episode were how this entrepreneur approaches board meetings and his own evolving role as a founding CEO.

He describes being more intentional and how taking the time to be more clear about the priorities ahead can make a lot of difference in working with your board, and also ensuring you are doing a good job, at the right level as a leader.

For example, clearly and explicitly laying out your own job description with your cofounders each year, as your business evolves. As well as using that same clarity with your board to get the best advice from them, and the most out of your interactions with them.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The keys to surviving lean times to get through to the flush times in your business
  • How fundraising changes as you progress through funding rounds
  • How big the banking services space is

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The post He Built A $2 Billion Business By Creating A SaaS Platform That Powers Banking Services appeared first on Alejandro Cremades.

This content was originally published here.

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