Paul Coleman is a personal trainer and the chief executive of Attraction4Life, a fitness, nutrition and coaching company in Dubai. Mr Coleman, who moved here from Britain in 2007 to work in the construction industry, took the leap to set up his business in May. He says his success comes from learning how to be patient, while being fit has given him the motivation and discipline to achieve his goals.
Describe your financial journey so far.
I started my first job as a trainee professional golfer on a wage of Dh2,000 per month some 18 years ago. I was working 60 hours a week, meeting customers, coaching clients and playing in local tournaments. I saved enough money to buy my first car: a Fiat Panda. Soon after, I realised I had a talent for numbers and people, so I enrolled at night school to be a quantity surveyor. After getting my degree and obtaining chartered status in 2002, I moved to Spain for a year. I worked in sales and marketing for an estate agent company, then went on to selling television advertising space. It was a great experience. I learnt about how to deal with rejection and how to sell myself and the company's services. I moved back to the UK to do freelance quantity surveying work and I was earning in excess of Dh60,000 a month. I used this money to invest in property in the UK and Spain.
Why did you move to Dubai?
I moved to Dubai in 2007 to work as a commercial manager on major civil works and construction projects. The first year was spend, spend, spend - living the life, going to brunches, driving fast cars, living in luxury apartments. Then the crisis happened and I had to sell property to clear credit cards, loans and for living expenses when the company went under and I was made redundant. I started working on Attraction4Life while working for a large company in Dubai. In my spare time, I developed my skill sets with the aim to leave my career and start my own business, which I did in May.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I like to spend money on personal development courses, books and travelling. I see these as investments. In the long run, the training and knowledge I have received has paid dividends, both in monetary value and lifestyle benefit.
What is your philosophy towards money?
I have always had a good relationship with money. I was lucky my parents taught me the value of working hard and really earning my money and giving the value of my services. This has meant I have truly valued money when I have received it. To run a thriving business, I believe you need to grow your skills and business to increase revenue rather than holding on and focusing solely on reducing costs.
What has been your most valuable financial lesson?
I have learnt not to judge people. Everybody has the potential to be great and appearances can be deceptive. I have had clients who, to look at, were not living an overly ostentatious lifestyle. Then I found out that they were multimillionaires. I believe in the same lifestyle. To live simple, enjoy the things you love and spend time with people who you want around and they want to be around you.
What are the challenges you faced setting up a company in Dubai?
When it comes to setting up a company in Dubai, you have to have patience. This is something I've had to develop. Things go wrong - fact. People don't always show up on time or tell you everything you need to know. Allow time for setting up your visa and trade licence, website and business communications. This cannot be rushed and I would allow two to three months for any new business owner.
Does being fit help all aspects of your life?
Being physically fit and eating well has had a profound effect on all areas of my life. When we feel strong and look good, our self-esteem increases, we take on more opportunities and are more resilient when things don't go right. I like to run marathons and the mindset from this has helped with the discipline to train and invest over a long period to achieve my goals.
What has been your biggest financial challenge?
This was in 2009, during the credit crisis. I was made redundant as the company I was working for had gone under. My money was tied up in property and long-term stocks and shares. I had to reduce my spending to a minimum, cut costs on living, sell my car and some furniture. In the meantime, I had to sell a property in the UK. But I got another commercial manager job within four months. I cleared all my credit cards and loans, so now my monthly expenses are relatively low.
What do you like to invest in?
I have invested in property, stocks and mutual funds in the past. But these days, I invest most of my money into running my business. In the long run, this, I believe, will give me the biggest return on the capital I've invested.
Do you plan for the future?
Absolutely. I would consider my vision and long-term planning as my strongest attributes. I like to plan big goals to give me the motivation and driving purpose, so that each stepping stone achieved is a step in the right direction in the grand master plan.