Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Money & Me: 'I have set up a few businesses, lost them and got into debt'

Health entrepreneur Natasha Rudatsenko says her finances are now stable after fluctuating for many years

Entrepreneur Natasha Rudatsenko had to close her yoga studio Dryp in March due to Covid-19 regulations but she hopes to reopen soon. Courtesy Health Nag
Entrepreneur Natasha Rudatsenko had to close her yoga studio Dryp in March due to Covid-19 regulations but she hopes to reopen soon. Courtesy Health Nag

Wellbeing entrepreneur Natasha Rudatsenko is the founder of Dubai yoga studio Dryp and Health Nag, a functional health service and holistic health education platform. Ms Rudatsenko, 37, from Estonia, was inspired to focus her career on wellness after being diagnosed with chronic illnesses including hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome. Educated in London, she moved to the UAE in 2010 and now lives in Dubai Marina.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I only became financially stable after 34 years, so very recently. You fall, you dust yourself off and try again.

Natasha Rudatsenko

I come from a very average Eastern European family. We didn’t have much. We had the basics: food, clothes, a small apartment in a very provincial city of Estonia. Growing up in that environment, I always wanted more. My mum always used to say that 'money doesn’t grow on trees' and that 'life is hard'. This instilled in me that you have to work hard, and sacrifice a lot to achieve any level of success. I became a fighter and a success chaser before anything else. I put family desires out of the way because I did not believe I could have both, so I chose to follow my career instead. Down the line, I realised you can have a much better work-life balance but I did not see this at first. I don’t have kids now, but I do think about it more often.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

When I went to Estonian Business School to study business management and marketing, I couldn’t really afford it so I begged my mum to take a loan which I promised to pay back. My mum could not afford to support me fully with my university costs, so I also had to look for a job. My first job was a waitress in a Russian restaurant, and I was offered about €700 (Dh2,816) per month. I was studying during the day and working as a waitress on most evenings. Now looking back, I am not sure when I had time for any homework, but somehow, I managed. The work allowed me to take care of myself, my accommodation and food and I managed to pay off the loan five years after I finished school. I am grateful to my mum for that risk she took.

When did you launch your businesses and how did you finance them?

I opened my first-ever business, Rawr Yoga, which focused on Bikram Yoga, in 2012. It was partially set up with money from my ex-husband and I also had a co-founding financial partner. I was in real estate back then and used the money I made from sales. I later sold it in 2015. Dryp was co-founded in 2018 and offered a variety of fitness and yoga classes. It's been closed since mid-March due to Covid-19 regulations but I hope to reopen it soon. Health Nag launched last year and is self-funded.

How did Covid-19 affect your businesses?

For Dryp, we didn't let go of any staff. I relocated them to our main office for some other responsibilities. For Health Nag online, my mission is clear; to educate people about health, immunity and diet and luckily I've been able to do it online. Now, instead of people going to doctors and clinics, people can get professional health advice over the internet.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?

Most of my life I really struggled. I have set up a few businesses, lost them and got into debt. There have been many times that not only could I not pay the bills, but I did not even have money to eat. My money fluctuated all the time. I was purely in survival mode for most of my life. I only became financially stable after 34 years, so very recently. You fall, you dust yourself off and try again.

How has the pandemic affected your personal finances?

It is important to save but at the same time it's important not to waste time on Netflix. Now is the best time to invest in a new skill, take that seminar or a course and learn something new which in return can create a new source of income. Something you can do from home or via internet. In my case, I was already doing it. I am an online-based entrepreneur, so it is a little different for me.

However, like many people, I've tightened up all my other expenses and only invest into something that I know will pay the highest dividends – self-education and self-mastery. There is now so much quality content on social media where one can literally learn anything for free; yoga, meditations, free webinars on health and even financial education.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I am an all-or-nothing kind of person. I can be irrationally frugal at times and then I can splurge big on something I regret after. I spend a lot on experiences and personal development, seminars and all sort of educational travels. I don’t spend on fashion items or luxury purchases. That is not me.

Ms Rudatsenko wishes she had improved her financial literacy when she was young. Courtesy Natasha Rudatsenko
Ms Rudatsenko wishes she had improved her financial literacy when she was young. Courtesy Natasha Rudatsenko

What is your most cherished purchase?

A ticket to a Los Angeles entrepreneurial festival in November last year with top class business leaders as speakers and incredible entertainment. It cost me Dh15,000 for the summit ticket and flight in business class. I do these kind of events all the time, so it's not a one-time purchase. They are not cheap but I believe it is the best money spent ever, investing in your personal growth, meaningful connections and business inspirations. These events act as a serious kick in the butt towards your bigger dreams.

Do you have any financial regrets?

I should have saved more along the way while educating myself more in financial literacy and planning, but then I wouldn’t be who I am today. You should have regrets, so you are wiser next time.

What luxuries are important to you?

A beautiful home, geographical fluidity, work that I am passionate about which isn’t driven by financial gains only, comfort travelling, the luxury of time for personal growth and events and the luxury of freedom.

What car do you drive?

A Porsche Cayman.

Do you prefer using a credit card or cash?

Credit card. It makes me feel anxious carrying cash. Somehow, I don’t feel it’s safe.

How do you separate your business and home lives?

I treat my work and my employees as family. My work is my lifestyle and my lifestyle is my work. I have lost all boundaries now. I often make emotional decisions, not necessarily business ones, but that works for me. I am not financially driven. For me, it’s important that what I do helps people. It may sound cheesy, but my businesses are an extension of my passions, habits and personality. This is the way I express myself to the world. I would probably be way more financially successful if I focused on the business side of my start-ups rather than my emotional fulfilment from it.

Updated: May 28, 2020 01:08 PM

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