In retirement, never let projects run on remote control. Whether it is a farm or a business, you have to make sure that you are directly involved and see to it that the tasks are executed in accordance with the target. You should never rely on telephone calls or WhatsApp pictures as progress reports. The only sure report you can stand on is that originated by your senses. It is an all-hands-on-deck affair.
At the time you are making investments with your lump sum, make sure never to leave projects to caretakers, some children (I know some offspring who can plunder with no remorse, crook, and dupe parents like it is not their inheritance), employees, or service providers. They are always coming up with excuses to explain their errors. The fact that most of the retirees would have spent most of their years in town makes it easy to just offer them some “village” technical explanation. Your chickens at the farm will either die of some wild dog, a big bird, or some seasonal condition. The number of livestock will never hit the numbers you expect. Villagers on their own can keep thousands of cattle or goats. Try to engage them, and it will only be one excuse after another. It may appear that preying on an investor’s “ubomba mwibala” vibes is a Zambian thing to do. Let’s not rule out theft and manipulation of the numbers. Never underestimate an illiterate mind; it does not know how to use a computer or the internet, but it definitely knows the value of money.
Whatever project or business you undertake, be present and make sure you have everything on record. The paperwork should be in order. If you are clueless, engage a professional to handle your books. Respect every coin, and do not let a dime go to waste. Millions are built with coins. Remember, after the lump sum has been paid, you become an economy, and a number of individuals are more than ready to benefit from the olive branch. You become such a gold mine that even your own children would seek to be enriched.
Profitable Gold mines are always protected. You can only relax when you have created a system that can stand alone, and usually this involves professionals. Even at this point, you will still need to check in with management so that the projects are kept on course. Mind you, the only one who understands the vision fully is yourself, unless you are sure that those following have caught it. Otherwise, bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, relatives, and friends are all part of the miners, ready to get an ounce that you are not accounting for. More often, they cannot wait to get paid, get themselves some drink, enjoy themselves, run you dry, then look for the next candidate.
Do not expect a caretaker who envisions heaven in a K700 salary you give them at the end of the month to handle your investment that is in the thousands; it is way above his or her salary range. Most of the time, their vision does not go past the said salary, and their capacity is limited. Never trust the caretakers, no matter how good they are; the only trust that should exist is in the money that finally hits the account upon successfully transacting.
Did you know that being part of the projects or business is enlightening and you will be able to notice overpricing and you will be able to cut out some unnecessary expenses? On the other hand, it tends to be therapeutic and is some form of exercise.
You will have to learn how to use your own resources because it is all hands on deck. When working, there is a tendency to use one’s employer’s machinery and resources. However, if you want to build a successful entity, you should stop using work resources or manpower for personal business. The profits you make are not a true reflection of what the business is producing. Statistics will show that a number of farms or business entities become “white elephants” immediately after their owners relinquish their positions. Once in retirement one cannot access that manpower or the machinery and as a result they get to see what the real cost is to maintain such assets on their inventory. Never despise small beginnings, they say; be hands-on and watch your business or farm grow. Once it has grown to levels worth watching, the systems will be strong enough to sustain the growth.
Never be a spectator in your own business. Do not supervise from a distance; your investing will just be turned into someone’s “akalilo.” In retirement, it’s all hands-on deck.
The author is a retired officer of the Zambia Airforce and an Advocate. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +260 97 9165574