Prior to 2008, Dominique and her husband Kevin were thriving with a seven figure business in renovating and selling property. The global financial crisis hit and their 15 properties at that time, bad investment and some litigation that went wrong resulted in the couple drowning in millions of dollars in debt.
She used her expertise as a qualified lawyer to focus on debt law and utilised her commercial skills. She was able to negotiate, reduce debt and use the law as a ‘holding strategy’ and make arrangements with several creditors.
After appearing on television to speak about debt, she was contact by thousands of people for help. Dominique realised there was a gap in the market to help Australians grow wealth through property education and established DG Institute.
Over the past couple of years she has expanded the suite of services to cater for her clients’ broader wealth creation and wealth protection requirements. She now holds her own workshops and events.
DB: How important is mindset for success in business? How do you stay positive when everything goes wrong?
Dominique: Mindset is everything.
Some of the worst things that have happened to me have turned out to have greatest benefit to me later. So when I face obstacles and even failures, I’ve learned to say, ‘That’s interesting.’
I’m not Pollyanna positive. I don’t believe in that. I try to have a growth mindset, always striving for something bigger and better.
And I work on myself. The person you become is your success. You attract your success. You have to become worthy of it.
I’m interested in the Stoic thinkers, and they say there are just objective facts and your view of them. Look at the facts, take their measure and focus on finding a solution. The challenge is to morph the problem into something better.
The Stoics say good times don’t last and bad times don’t last. They’re all part of a larger journey.
DB: What are biggest lessons you have learned in terms of minimizing risks in business in future?
Dominique: To think you can ever be totally risk-free is naïve. Business is risky by nature because life is risky. Usually the size of your rewards is proportional to the size of the risks you take.
The best way to mitigate risk is to be prepared. There’s always an element of surprise and chance, but if you’re prepared you can respond with a clearer head.
DB: What have been the key 3 things that have been essential to DG Institute’s success?
- People will pay for a migraine problem. They’ll spend whatever they need to for treatment because it’s painful. Find their migraine problem and help them with it.
Debt is a migraine problem, and there’s not much information, support or community out there for people in debt.
- Your biggest critics and complainers can be your biggest blessing because they point out faults you knew about but weren’t doing anything about. They can be like your personal trainer motivating you to get off the lounge.
When I was first advising people, they would say, ‘My accountant says it’s not possible to…’ ‘My lawyer said no.’ ‘My broker says I can’t.’ Their ‘experts’ didn’t get it. That was frustrating, but it motivated me to find lawyers and accountants and mortgage brokers who did get it, and who understood the best strategies. I brought them in-house. Now we’re a one-stop shop with integrated services. So those nay-sayers helped me build DG Institute.
- Challenge the Status Quo. (That’s one of the values on our wall at DG Institute.)
We’re doing disruptive change. For example we’re doing peer-to-peer lending and marketplace lending to give investors new options.
- You asked for three tips but I’ll throw in a fourth tip for free. Keep plugging away. Set a goal and do something every day. Grow constantly.
How did you turn the realization of the gap in the market into an established business? How long did it take and how did you get those first clients on board?
Dominique: I started advising people how to invest successfully in properties. This month I launched Business Turnaround, eight years in the making.
This is a step by step process that identifies small to medium sized businesses with owners keen to sell and turns them around for profit or sale.
I was after an investment approach my clients would understand and would provide regular cash flow to compliment the often single point in time returns from investing in property.
I have a three-state roadshow next month and two workshops later in the year.
What are your key pieces of advice for anyone in debt going through a similar experience right now?
Dominique: Compartmentalise! A debt problem doesn’t define you. It’s not who you are. It shouldn’t be your full-time focus.
You feel society condemning you.
Don’t focus on it all the time. Deal with it, then pack it away. When I was in debt, if I got a letter I’d do what I had to, but then I’d put it away and focus on my future, which was building a business.
Don’t worry about it all the time. I know that’s easy to say, but I found you worry so much that you just can’t worry any more. You say, ‘What shall we do? Oh, it’s the weekend, let’s go to the beach.’
The Stoics had a saying: amor fati. Love your fate! You can’t see the silver lining when it’s all happening but embrace everything that happens and look for solutions.