With her personal motivational principle being “Break the rules” – Anushka Singh Bhima is no ordinary lawyer! Soon after completing her Articles of Clerkship and working as a legal advisor, Anushka followed her instincts and along with her educational background, added “entrepreneur and business woman” to her already esteemed title of ‘Attorney of the High Court’. Passionate about the law, as well as health and fitness, Anushka currently runs her very own law firm, ASB Attorneys while juggling two other entrepreneurial ventures. We asked Anushka to put on her Lawyer hat for us and give us insight into the creation of ASB Attorneys, what laws and regulations she feels are most important for women to become acquainted with, and how she manages to run 3 successful businesses…
Full Name: Anushka Singh Bhima
Current Title/Position: Director of ASB Attorneys
Educational Background: Bachelor of Laws [LLB] (University of Pretoria)
Current City: Johannesburg
Anushka, you recently established your very own Legal Firm, ASB Attorneys, a firm providing general legal services, legal compliance advice and legal training. Take us through the journey of founding your own firm, has law and business always been a passion of yours?
I have always been passionate about practicing law and during my Articles of Clerkship, I met the most wonderful mentor who inspired me to wear my heart on my sleeve in what is seen as a stereotypically cut-throat profession. This set the foundation for me to know that I could do my work well, have happy clients and still be a gentle person at heart. With this as my base, I always knew that I wanted to start my own firm, an unconventional one where my clients became my friends and we greet with a hug instead of a formal handshake. After being in the corporate environment for three years I realized that I needed to make a move before getting sucked into the robotic mode of being a corporate attorney. And so in May 2014 I resigned from being a legal advisor and started ASB Attorneys from my study in Pretoria. I had a cellphone, a laptop and took a giant leap of faith. And just like that ASB Attorneys made her entry into the world. Running a business and being an Attorney are two completely different paths and fortunately I have had the guidance of my incredible dad (who has been in business for over 30 years) to assist with the business side of the firm. In law school they don’t reach you how to run a firm! I had to learn that on my own.
As the founder of ASB Attorneys you are not only a qualified Attorney, but a business woman and entrepreneur as well. What key lessons have you learned about business acumen within this start-up phase?
Running a business is a task separate to being an attorney and it is important to know that running a business requires dedication, constant revision of what is going on within the business, always looking at new ways to improve and growing the business. It means wearing two hats at the same time – attorney and business lady.
How does starting one’s own firm differ from creating a new business venture or product/service? Would you say the character traits required for running a law firm differ to those of running an entrepreneurial venture?
If anything, I think it’s a little more intense with opening a firm as you’ve got to be able to run a business and a be a good attorney at the same time. Both require focus and attention on a daily – if not hourly basis and you’ve got to juggle them at the same time. An open mind, a positive vibe and a roaring soul make for an efficiently run firm or any entrepreneurial venture. You’ve got to want it with your whole heart and then the rest will fall into place.
What key Acts and pieces of legislation do you think young women in corporate should especially familiarize themselves with?
I am all for woman empowerment and women being treated equally in the workplace and so anything relating to Women’s rights is important to me. Some legislation that would be key to have a summary about would be the Promotion of Equality and Unfair Discrimination Act. And more importantly to have a look at your company’s HR policy and regulations to make sure that there are no conflicting policies. On another note it’s important for women in South Africa to know about Domestic Violence and what their rights are regarding such abuse.
As an Attorney and Businesswoman, what have been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?
Some days can be crazy with juggling being a wife, a business owner (of three businesses!), an attorney and most importantly making time for myself. It’s about finding the balance. I do a ‘Daily action plan’ each day and this helps organize the various spheres of my life. In this way I make time for everything and include self-care as a daily ritual. If my cup is not full how can I serve anyone else?
Take us through a typical work day for you?
6.30 Wake up call
7.30 Make my morning smoothie while listening to some good vibe music (at the moment it’s Coldplay’s new album) and of course a few dance moves in between. This is the best way to start my day and makes for some special ‘me time’.
8.00 Plan the day by doing my daily action plan which even includes what’s on the menu for that day and gym time! (being a business owner and wife, planning is everything and so I make sure I set aside time to plan – with room for changes of course)
9.00 E-mails and phone calls for all three business ventures
11.00- 13.00 Consultations with clients
13.00 Lunch- having my office in the comfort of my home I make sure that I have good meals. It keeps my brain fueled and my body fit.
13.30- 15.30 Drafting contracts and work as per clients’ instructions.
16:00 Sign out from ASB Attorneys. (I’ve learnt that I need to separate work from home otherwise it becomes all work and no play and no one wants that!)
17:00 – 18:00 Gym time! I absolutely love working out. It gives my body an adrenaline rush and keeps me feeling good. It’s not a chore for me but rather something I enjoy doing.
18:00 Dinner and down time with hubby. It’s a special time when the day is done because I get to catch up with my husband and share the day’s antics over a homemade meal and some good music.
Advice for aspiring attorneys and business women?
You’ve got to be ready to break the rules and do things differently. Wake up with a spring in your step, leave yesterday’s woes where they are and learn to let things slide. Make a plan, write it down and work on it every single day!!!
Morning or night? Morning.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order? My grandma- she’s 90 years young, a struggle veteran and an incredible powerhouse of a woman. She’d most likely cook as that’s her way of showing her love and affection and boy does she make a mean curry!
I wish I knew how to… Speak every language in the world.
African women are… Magical Majestic Mavens
South Africa is… The land of milk and honey without a doubt!
Worst money mistake… Not saving earlier (oops!)
Best investment… Working on myself every single day. I believe that I am my biggest investment and so it takes constant working on to grow this investment
Motivation in 3 words… Break the rules!