Shawn Sharma is the quintessential rags-to-riches story. Starting out as the son of immigrant parents and living in a trailer park, Sharma has now created twenty-plus successful businesses with some of the finance industry’s key players.
His company, Credit 101, has helped thousands of people learn about the importance of good credit, improve their credit by one-hundred points or more in only months, and brought him tremendous success. Sharma credits this personal and professional satisfaction to a tireless work ethic, strong collaborations, and a root goal of improving others’ lives.
Sharma grew up poor, to hard-working, educated parents who could not translate their knowledge and experience in India to comparable jobs in the US. His father, a doctor, could not squeeze in hours of studying each night while holding down menial jobs to make ends meet. Sharma’s mother was disabled after a medical accident; therefore, she never fulfilled her career dreams.
These incidents fueled Sharma to work hard from a young age, landing him in high school and college scholarships and a ticket to Cornell University. When his father passed away, Sharma stepped up to provide for the family and discovered the massive benefits of credit arbitrage in the process.
Success came only after a series of missteps that Sharma blames on inexperience, which ultimately led to bankruptcy. As with most moguls, Sharma pulled himself up by the bootstraps, founding Credit 101, which helps others learn the trade’s legal tricks to maximize credit card benefits.
One of the keys to becoming independently wealthy is realizing that no one can do it all alone. Sharma has taken this motto and created a team of successful aspiring businessmen and women, surrounding himself with a quality peer group.
Although he has a great circle of friends and family around him, a valuable lesson he has learned is to be wary of mixing friendship and business. One of his first business experiences was an Airbnb company, where he collaborated with three partners to scale thirty Airbnb’s and seven figures in revenue in less than six months.
Unfortunately, Sharma’s partners were naïve, had no contracts, and resulted in one partner embezzling Sharma’s money. The other two partners skipped out on the business altogether, leaving Sharma with nearly half-a-million dollars in debt. He says he is now careful about who he partners up with and has created a streamlined business model.
“I train one sales manager, then give him a 100% responsibility to do the things that would otherwise eat up my time. The manager can hire, recruit, train, and build the team below him,” he says. The practice of delegating so many tasks allows Sharma to focus on the bigger picture, a critical element for any company’s success.
Like any good entrepreneur, Sharma’s business decisions are sometimes risky but have paid off in dividends. “I ran up a million in cryptocurrency in 2016, was one the biggest manufactured spenders in the country in 2018 and 2019, and quickly built a massive social media presence of 1.1 million followers in only two years.”
Even starting some of the companies he has, where he had to invest significant capital upfront, many of his friends and family told him he was crazy, yet he’s had massive success from all of his investments. Sharma says that while he sometimes leans on family, others in the industry, and friends to help him stay positive, in the end, it is he that has to make the tough calls. “This way, whether I sink or swim, I only have myself to blame,” he says.