October 20

A Better Entrepreneur | Chapter 2


A Little Wooden Box

When my husband came home from work, I sat him down and we talked about what we could do, given my newfound realisation that we had to take 100% responsibility for ourselves.  He thought we already were, so the whole concept took some explaining!

We discussed my getting a job, but with my being seven months or so pregnant and with a toddler to look after, that could prove both difficult and expensive.  

However, I resolved to look into the costs of a nursery locally for Phoebe, so I might at least be able to take on some part-time work at home.  I did know how to make websites but I didn’t have any clue about how much of a new skill that was, and even less of a clue about how to market myself online.

If only I’d been able to stop and think about it, I could have figured out that making a website to advertise my web design services on the fledgling internet could have solved all our problems!  

Somehow, sadly,it just never occurred to me!  Another fatal flaw, I thought, never spotting the obvious!

Irving resolved to go out and get a job, any job, just to tide us over.  Then, when the new baby came and was eventually weaned, we could think about what I could do for work then.  

In the meantime, I asked him if he could think of anything, anything at all that we could sell to keep us going in the short term, as he was not expecting to get paid any salary that month.

I don’t know why I asked that, he’d never mentioned anything before, but for some reason this time I asked and this time, something clicked and he went upstairs and brought down a carved wooden box.

“When my aunt died, she left me some shares but I’ve never looked at them since, as they were not worth anything much.”

He unpacked the box and laid out the share certificates, which were for several different companies, including a couple of banks.  We had no idea what their value was, so I went online only to flounder about and decide that we had to wait for the Sunday papers to come out, particularly the Times, as I knew from somewhere that the Times On Sunday Times printed all the share prices each week. 

This was 1997 remember, and while there may have been online websites, the search engines left much to be desired, Google was still a year away from being invented yet!  Yahoo was invented in 1994 and operated like a search engine buried within a portal website.  It was very busy-looking and certainly, not much fun to use.

I decided to learn about the shares we had, about share investment generally and trading shares specifically, in the hope that it might replace the lowly secretarial salary that I might be able to earn, even if there would be any left after paying for childcare.

I dug out one of my super-powers, as I now know it to be, which is to read fast and learn a lot very quickly.  I’d tuned into Radio 4 a couple of times in the car and heard a couple of people talking finance and share trading.

One was Bernice Cohen, self-styled ‘The Armchair Investor’ and her down-to-earth straightforward style reassured me that I too, could learn how to become a savvy investor.

The other was Jim Slater, the self-styled ‘Zulu Expert’ investor, who believed that the more niche you went in any market sector, the more of an expert you could quickly become.

Heading into the West End, I bought both their books immediately and we also found to our delight that the shares were worth about three years worth of frugal living expenses

My husband went out temping and the rest of my pregnancy was spent happily learning as much as I could about the subject and researching if it was really possible to become a full-time stock market trader.

I took to technical analysis like a duck to water.  This was done in those days on graph paper with a full set of coloured pencils.  By looking at the chart for each share, we established where in their price cycle they were, which of the shares to keep and which to sell to fund our lifestyle until Irving could secure a new ‘proper’  job.

We obviously aimed to keep as much of the pot of capital in the shares as possible, just selling a few to top up Irving’s earnings and using a few as a ‘trading pot’.

But at least we could breathe for now.


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