Sim has built up an incredible community of young women who want to learn more about finance and investing, and this has been so successful that she has now been able to monetise it and go ‘all in’ with Girls that Invest.
Escaping the 9 to 5 with Simran Kaur
Sim has built up an incredible community of young women who want to learn more about finance and investing, and this has been so successful that she has now been able to monetise it and go ‘all in’ with Girls that Invest. She also has a #1 business podcast in the US, Canada, New Zealand and #2 in the UK.
You can connect with Simran on the website and on Instagram.
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
Join the Outsiders Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Girls That Invest
Anna: Hello everybody. So for this month’s interview, I’m here with Simran Kaur and I’m really excited. I’ve found her relatively recently on Instagram, Sim and Sonya. You’ll hear about, I think in a few minutes.
But Sim, first of all, thank you so much for your time. Obviously you are at the other end of the world to me. So we are about to go to bed. You’ve just started your day, but I appreciate you joining to share your story and I’d love to dive straight in and ask you, because I know it was very recent for you, but what were you doing before in your so called nine to five? And what are you doing now?
Sim: Oh, thank you so much for having me, first of all. It’s such an honour to be here. I had a very interesting change in careers. I started off as an optometrist, nothing to do with money, nothing to do with finance. I had a huge personal hobby with personal finance and investing and I kind of started sharing that online. I took a certificate in financial markets for my own learning and that led to what, Girls That Invest, which is a podcast, an Instagram account, and of course where we just literally teach young women and women of all ages really, about investing. What it is and it just blew up and here I am now doing it full-time.
Anna: Amazing. Well, congratulations for taking that step and congratulations on the amazing results. I know you are number one business podcast and all sorts of incredible results in quite a short space of time, I guess. If you go back then, it sounds like it came very organically from an interest, as you said that you pursued, did you have an inkling, were you planning, this is going to be my empire when you started that or was it very much accidental and just because of the incredible response you had, it’s sort of grown out of that.
Sim: I think it was maybe 50/50. I have always kind of been that, when I was younger, that kid that was like, what can I do? You know, what business can I own? And I’ve always had the side hustles in university. And so with this, I always had an idea, I wanted to do something in the financial space because I just, from my own experiences, never experienced that. There was no woman that I could learn from. Everything was very, we use the term finance bro-e, which is the guys in the vests that are yelling at the screen about what you should and shouldn’t do. And obviously, I didn’t engage with that very well. And I did always wish, “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if there was just a community of women that would speak about investing in stocks and real estate, because lots of women do those things. We just don’t speak about them and it’s very taboo.
So it’s kind of where the organic side came from, just having the interest, but also knowing that I did want to eventually do something outside of my nine to five. I think I love the idea of working in a way where the amount of input I put into my work gives more output and I’m in control of that. Whereas in a nine to five, it is nine to five.
Anna: Yeah. And sometimes not nine to five, but there’s definitely a ceiling isn’t there. You can work harder and harder, but it’s not that the income from that necessarily is going to be exponential as you work. There is a limit isn’t there and then there’s risks, burnout and so on. So first of all, so important and I agree, I didn’t have any of that education from, I think, my family, money is often a topic that parents argue about. And if I think about it, the books I’ve read have been male authors or possibly more sort of on the mindset, all this kind of, to help women feel better about money. But I love that you have the really tangible investing advice, very down to earth. Very, I want to say almost easy, but it’s not easy, but it’s something that we can all learn. So I think it’s a really powerful message.
What was it that led you then to go all in? So it was November, 2021 that you quit that night into five. Was there anything around that moment that really made you think, “Wow, yes. This is definitely something I’m now going to pursue and leave this other career behind?”
Sim: Yeah. So the way it happened was quite organic. I had the free podcast, the free Instagram for about 18 months, I want to say. And that was very, it was a very good thing to do now, looking back at it. Obviously hindsight is 20/20. You don’t expect these things, but it had built such a great genuine community and a community of people that knew that we were there to help. And we were there just to share our knowledge and our information and it got to the stage where we were, “Okay, I think I’m ready to monetize this and I’m ready to put out an offer.” We had done sponsorships here and there, but nothing that would, I guess, be substantial enough to quit my job.
I had side hustles on the side that were bringing in income as well and I wanted to put everything together that we taught and turn it into a course because we were having so many people that were, “Thanks for the podcast. It’s helpful, but I’m listening to it when I’m washing my laundry or when I’m driving. And so it’s a very passive form of listening and I don’t always take it all in.” And other people were saying, “I wrote notes and notes and notes sitting down, listening to your podcast.”
And so it was a natural transition to go, okay, we should probably start doing some video format where people can see what we’re talking about. How can we do that? How can we give people a step by step approach? Because even by listening to the podcast, a lot of people still say that they felt scared and they weren’t quite ready to take that next step. So that’s when the course came out and I did a pre-sale, so I had filmed and edited and had a very crisp course ready. I just wanted to gauge what people would even be interested in. And it did very well and I put in my notice.
Anna: Amazing, well sounds again, very organic. And I often tell my clients to build that audience. As you said, it’s sort of hindsight is 20/20, but actually warming them up, building that community before you start throwing things to sell at them is really powerful. I think it requires a bit of patience maybe because some of us, if you want to quit our jobs quickly, maybe want to monetize right away. So good for you for providing that value for a long time so that then there wasn’t an obvious need, as you said to produce that. And what were your other side hustles then? Are they unrelated to the business you’re doing now?
Sim: Before all of this, I actually run a very strong feminist community on Instagram called the Indian Feminist. It’s got 300,000 followers. It’s a nice large thing there, but we did merchandise and shirts and tote bags and such, but a community like that, it just didn’t feel personal. And I know everyone’s different. It didn’t feel to right to monetize that too much because it is a community about feminism. You don’t really want to be charging high ticket items with something like that.
Anna: Okay. Fair enough. Well, that’s incredible to have that platform as well and portfolio of different outlets for your expression. So congratulations on that as well. It sounds like you’re very poised, very successful. Everything’s gone very well. I have to poke a little bit and ask, what were the challenges both from your own internal perspective in terms of maybe confidence or mindset? And also, anything else that you found difficult now in the early, well, the first months, I guess, but now, especially as you start to monetize?
Sim: So many challenges. I feel definitely not as easy as maybe I think. I have short-term memory loss where I forget just how hard and crazy and stressful it was at the time.
Anna: It’s probably a good thing, isn’t it, to help you to keep going otherwise you’d wallow in the tragedy of the difficulty?
Sim: Absolutely. So with Girls That Invest, initially it was just a fun project so there weren’t too many challenges. I think the biggest challenge at the start was just having the mindset of trying, the mindset of a successful business while still being a very small business. And so that’s something that’s always worked well for me with the Indian Feminist, with this. When we go into it, we don’t go in being only a couple of hundred people, listen, there’s no need to edit the podcast while there’s no need to create high quality content. But we went in and spoke with an energy as if people were listening and we did have something worth saying and that worked out quite well, but that was also a challenge because we work a nine to five and my co-host Sonya, so Sonya jumps in for the podcast once a week, and then that’s kind of her role and she’ll edit with me time to time, as well.
It’s not easy one, doing something like that outside of your work hours, but also two, trying to rope your best friend into also helping you on your journey. There were definitely times at the start where we would not agree with the level of output and I had to learn very quickly that this is my passion. This is my baby. And no one else is really and understandably going to put in the same effort that you are.
Anna: That’s really interesting, actually. I often have people wanting to, I’m very sort of, I don’t want to say a loner, but I like to work by myself. I’m very self-motivated and I get on quite well by myself, but a lot of people want to have a co-founder and so on. And as you say, there are different challenges, I guess when you bring someone else on having the same level of time, energy, the exact same vision. You can bring so much to the table with different people, but obviously it can be hard to.
I love what you said about already projecting yourself into the future success when you start. Again, that’s kind of challenging because it makes me think, “Oh, you’ve got to invest in all the equipment and tools and editing and so on,” but at the same time, thinking big, I think, as you said, really allows you to produce the quality and to have the confidence rather than just to, as you say, undermining what you’re doing, I suppose, thinking as quite small.
So how have you overcome some of these challenges then? Any particular sources of support in terms of friends, mentors, I know you mentioned you did the course in finance, obviously, and so on, but apart from that, where have you got the help and support you’ve needed?
Sim: I think I’ve been quite lucky where I have had quite strong support systems, so my best friends, my family, and they are very honest people and they will tell me when I start to derail a little bit, is probably the best way of putting it. So as an entrepreneur, I think a lot of us, when we speak about success, it’s a never ending goal and you reach your goal and then onto the next one and onto the next one. And that’s very much my personality. And so I’d often have friends be, “Slow down, are you ever going to be happy?”
I’ve had a lot of challenges in that regard and with working with Sonya because we’ve been best friends for 20 years and we’re 25, so big chunk of our life, we can have honest conversations and sit down and say, “Okay, well X, Y, Z, isn’t working, let’s put some plans into place.” And I guess, I’m very similar. I would regard myself as someone that’s really good at just working by myself and working alongside someone, it’s really great now. And we’ve been able to have such a great business relationship now, but it was just a lot of practise and a lot of trial and error and a lot of little best friend tips.
Anna: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I guess that comes to the territory, mixing business with pleasure, but that’s great that you’ve been able to do that. And I guess a lot of us are the same in terms of chasing that next goal. And my whole idea around success is exactly that. In fact, I had a couple of episodes on the podcast the last few weeks on enjoying the journey and not thinking so much in black and white terms as well, I guess thinking, “Oh, if I only get to the $100K then I’ll,” and then, “Oh, if only I,” and then, “Once I quit my…” There’s always that next thing chasing. So it sounds amazing that you’ve got, as you say, the support system of people to ground you, and I hope you’re enjoying it along the way, which leads me to my next question, which is how are you enjoying this lifestyle? What are you most enjoying now about managing your business, your community and not having that nine to five? And what’s the best part of both work and pleasure, I suppose?
Sim: I honestly love it so much. I’m still, because it’s only been three, four months. I’m still in that mindset of, is this real? Is this real life? Is the rug going to be pulled under me and am I going to have to go back? And I think there’s so many things about this that I love, but I think the number one thing would be the freedom and the flexibility.
I loved my old job. I loved the people I worked with. The people were great, but it was a very strict job in the sense that you had to be physically there at all times. And if you needed a doctor’s appointment, you needed to go and do something, you had to then block out a time in your schedule and if someone was booked in to see you, that affects them as well. And so you often wouldn’t, and there’d be a lot of working around your schedule and it wouldn’t be very easy. And I just remember thinking, “I’m 25 and this is hard. Well, what am I going to do when I have kids? What am I going to do when I need flexibility and I have a sick child and I need to go home and take care of them?” Yet, feel guilty for my poor employer and the poor patients that I’m not going to be able to see. I think for some people it’s not really a bother, they deal with it really well. I just knew that I wasn’t one of those people. So I think just the freedom to just be, you know what, I’m going to go and grab a cup of coffee and I can do that. And that’s just amazing, the little things.
Anna: It is a little thing, but it’s also a massive thing. Freedom in the little things in the moments. I had a client today said, “Oh, I can bake scones in the middle of the day,” which is, if that’s what you want to do, but also the bigger picture, as you said, maybe going travelling or having kids in the future, so that’s really powerful.
In terms of, and you’ve really given a few tips, but I guess what advice might you give to someone who’s possibly right at the beginning of that journey, they have an inkling, maybe like you, they’ve had a few different things, nothing’s really taken off, or what words of wisdom might you share with someone in your position a couple years back, I suppose?
Sim: I think one misconception I used to have was that I would start when I felt ready. Even to this day when we launch, we’re currently going through a launch, you never feel a 100% ready. You might feel 60% ready, maybe 70%, but you’ll always have a level of fear of the unknown because that’s just human nature. You don’t know what’s going to happen and therefore that’s scary. And so if I was speaking to anyone that was at the start and they… I think we all know things that we are slightly better at than other people. And that might be photography for someone. It might be CV writing. You might be that friend, everyone comes to that’s really good at fixing their grammatical errors.
Everyone has skills that they can do. And it’s just a matter of believing that you can then go ahead and take that further, because you’ll never be a 100% ready. It’s not going to happen. But if you just get started step by step, I mean, Girls That Invest now is a 100,000 community member group on Instagram, yet, we used to have six followers. I remember those days and I would still put out content because the idea is that eventually it becomes something.
Anna: That’s incredibly inspiring. And I think a lot of listeners will be at that six follower level. I suppose, given that you’ve built those two incredible communities, the 300K and now the 100, any other tips specifically there in terms of as you say, sharing up as if you are bigger, I suppose, but anything else in terms of what creates something that will build into such an amazing community that you’ve now built twice?
Sim: I think another thing that has always worked for me is again, going in with the mindset of this going to be community and therefore speaking that way. And so engaging with everyone that engages in your content. Replying to people. I would spend a lot of time on Instagram, just jumping on speaking to other people that were doing what I was doing. And they might have had like 10,000 followers. I might have had 10, but I was still out there building those connections. And I think the number one secret sauce to growing accounts quite quickly for me is creating content that is feel good content, and that is shareable. So things that are hot tips or three things I learned and things that people want to then send to their friends or put on their story and therefore you reach your even wider audience. That is really it. It’s very simple. Well, simple to say now.
Anna: Yeah. I think we’re all looking for that secret sauce, aren’t we? But I do find your posts also very inclusive and community based. You feel like you are part of that community following you. I really enjoy that. It’s not just the messaging back and forth and commenting, which is amazing, but I think there’s something about what you’re posting that also feels like you have that community in mind to begin with. So you’re doing a good job. Well done.
So yeah, elevating beyond, I guess, your specific journey, leaving the nine to five and working for yourself, all of us face money challenges and possibly don’t have, almost definitely don’t have the expertise that you’ve now amassed in terms of personal finance and so on. Any little nuggets or advice you might give to us as we let go of that six figure salary and the pension and the security and so on and what we should be thinking about, not specific stock investing tips, but rather mindset or how should we approach this whole topic?
Sim: It’s a really good question because when I was working, it was very stable job, very stable salary, and a really good salary for someone that was a graduate. And so there’s this term, golden handcuffs, which I’m sure you’re really familiar with. For anyone that’s listening, that isn’t aware, it’s the idea that your job pays great and it makes you want to stay because the pay is really good and so therefore golden handcuffs. For me, I was very aware that I needed to have a lot of stability before I fully quit and I think I took that a little bit too far. I think I held onto my job a lot longer than I needed to. I definitely could have left sooner, but part of me just was so scared because I didn’t know anyone that had done anything like this.
I had all my friends and family be like, “Why are you still working?” And there was one day when I was updating my LinkedIn and I was looking at all the different things I did, freelancing here and doing this and [inaudible 00:21:56] and of course Girls That Invest and the Indian feminist and then optometrist. And I was like, one of these does not look like the other and I really need to cut my losses and move forward. But I think more than anything, the best thing that I did was just list out what I was making, because I think at that time I wasn’t really keeping good track. So listing out what I was making and then listing out what I expected for the next year. But most importantly, listing what my expenses were.
I think I got this from a YouTube video where someone explained, write down what you need to survive. What’s your mortgage because I do have a mortgage and so that was a little bit stressful for me. What’s your mortgage, what’s your bills? What would you need to just get by? And if you can make that through your business, or if you’re making it through your business, you can technically leave. You’ll still have a roof over your head. You’ll still have food to feed yourself. And I know I speak from a place of privilege because I don’t have children. I don’t have other responsibilities. So for me it was just me. And I think maybe it’s harder if there are other people reliant on you for income, but I was happy to take that leap of faith and know that worst case scenario if I have to sell my house, I mean, I’d never want to, but if I had to, am my going to die? No, I’ll be okay.
Anna: So many important ideas there. So the worst case scenario exactly that often will we catastrophize. And actually if we sit down and think about it again, being quite privileged, if we have family and friends who can help us out and, and worst case, we will probably get another job that’s not so terrible. And as you said, that constant tension, I guess, between how long do you stay in your job? How much saving do you need before you leave? And it sounds like you were very sensible and obviously had this very promising business to turn to and those other streams as well. I, like you, was very single and very free when I quit so I had no obligations and I then relied on my savings, which was stressful in itself and that can cause other problems.
So there’s always that choice of how long you stay before you go all in. And there’s also a limit, I think. It sounds like you have an incredible time management skill there that you’re able to juggle all those things. But if you have a really heavy corporate so-called nine to five, that of course is never nine to five and you’re trying to build something up, even just working with clients, obviously, if they’re only available weekdays, for example it’s not possible to juggle that alongside. There is a point at which people have to make that decision to go all in. And as you said, it’s really up to you in terms of your specific situation, but I loved your very simple, but very powerful advice of actually sitting down and looking at the numbers because I think that’s one of the things we just put our head on the sand, don’t we, “Oh, I’m not good with numbers. Oh, I don’t know. Oh, I need the salary and I don’t have,” and then without actually sitting down and hopefully we’ll be pleasantly surprised as to where we can cut costs and yeah, how much we actually need. And probably it’s less than we actually think we do, don’t we?
So, that’s excellent advice. And of course we’ll direct people to your podcast and your Instagram as well. Can you just, as we wrap up, tell us a little bit more about, so now exactly what is Girls That Invest? What is the business model, I guess? And then of course, how can people find out more?
Sim: Absolutely. So Girls That Invest, we’re basically an online learning platform for women and men and anyone that feels the traditional way of learning about investments and learning about finances is not as accessible and not as inclusive. So we are a podcast, we’re a number one podcast in the money space. We have a very sweet, probably what I would consider my child Instagram community, which is 100,000 people strong. And it’s really great. We put out a lot of content there and then we have our masterclass. And so when people are ready to then take that step and actually dive into becoming an investor, a long term passive investor, that’s where the masterclass comes in. And that’s very simple, I guess I like to keep it that way.
Anna: Sounds like it’s working for you. Thank you so much Sim so we’ll link to those in the notes, but thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on taking some kind of leap of faith, but having built an incredible community and platform to leap onto.
Looking forward to seeing what you do with a platform and I’m sure there’ll be other new ideas coming out as well. So best of luck and here’s to a successful 2022.
Sim: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I think honestly, these kinds of things, these kinds of podcasts, platforms are so great because not everyone wants the nine to five. Some people do, that’s fine, but it’s just so good to hear other people’s stories, how they did it and really love what you’re doing.
Anna: Oh, thank you. Yes, the stories. And then there are different aspects as we’ve talked about there’s the mindset piece, there’s the money piece, which you look at and so on. There’s so many considerations and it’s great to hear the commonalities between all the people I’ve spoken to around the world, that we are all very much experiencing and going through similar things. And then the things that we create are so exciting and different. So, it’s my favourite part of doing this work. Thanks so much again, Sim, and looking forward to sharing this with the audience, I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you.
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