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Albert Van Wyk Of Gazzaroo Gives Top Advice On How To Make Your First Million

Becoming financially free starts with a millionaire mindset. Albert van Wyk decided in his early teens that he wanted more from life, and he started working hard to achieve it.

Nadine Todd

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Albert van Wyk
  • Claim to fame: Self-made millionaire by age 22, author of How To Become a Millionaire at 22.
  • Company: Gazzaroo (online media agency) and a part-time business consultant
  • Est: 2015
  • Visit:

Having a purpose and a vision are powerful tools. They give you direction, help you stay focused when things get tough, and keep you heading in the right direction, particularly when results are slow. They’re also the foundation of a millionaire mindset. Albert van Wyk shares the journey that’s helped him develop his millionaire mindset, and the tools that will help you get there too.

‘Aha’ moments

‘Aha’ moments don’t always happen in a blinding instant. Sometimes they’re the culmination of experiences.

I grew up in a lower-middle class household. My dad was a road technician who was determined to give us a university education — something he had never had — and he worked hard, long hours, including night shifts, to make it happen. Growing up he always looked stressed, over-worked and tired. I didn’t want to work that hard and still struggle.

Related: 5 Habits That Lead To Millionaire Business Success

When I was a kid, there was a bicycle I desperately wanted. My parents couldn’t afford to buy it for me. The next month, when the coolest kid in class arrived with that bicycle, it drove me to start thinking about what I could do to ensure a different future; one where I wasn’t limited by finances. I was already considering what it meant to be financially free.

Everywhere I went, this point was being driven home. Everyone around me at school spoke about the cool jobs and cars they wanted one day, and what their families would look like. All of those things were fine, but it was becoming very clear to me that I wanted more. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to do big things. And the reality is that bigger dreams need bigger funding.

Finding a purpose

albert-van-wyk-millionaireI didn’t have a plan yet, but I had a purpose, and I quickly realised that dreams don’t come true by themselves. You need a goal, and you have to work towards it. I wasn’t going to delay working towards mine just because I was still at school. I was capable of earning money, and that’s what I did. I set goals for myself, and worked to achieve them.

I wasn’t scared of working hard — I’d been brought up in a household that respected hard work — but I did need patience. I also knew that every little bit made a difference. In Grade 8 I mowed lawns, washed cars and even convinced my mom to pay me per room I cleaned in our house. My goal was to buy a guitar by the end of the year, and I achieved it earlier than planned. I then taught myself to play the guitar (I’d already learnt drums at our church), and opened a guitar school, teaching other kids to play.

I bought and sold second hand PlayStations, and saved everything I made. By the time I was in Grade 11, I had a few things on the side, and then my grandfather started complaining about the fact that his 1950s Studebaker Powerhawk was never driven — which is death for a car. I didn’t have my driver’s licence, but I had an idea. I convinced my dad to be our driver, and started renting it out for matric dances. I saved up and bought a Volvo 122S a few months later for R8 000, and my dad helped me fix it up. This got added to our business.

I knew that the secret to building wealth was to get started. I needed to be trading, learning about finances, and above all, saving. It’s easy to spend money. It’s much harder to put it away.

Focusing on the future

As I got older, I became more focused. What did I want to accomplish, how was I going to get there, and what finances did I need?

I knew I was going to varsity. That had always been the plan. No one om my father’s side of the family had been before my generation, and my brother and I both knew this was a non-negotiable. I completely understand the worth of a university degree but I also wanted to work towards my goal of financial freedom, so I made a deal with my dad.

Related: 7 Motivational Habits That Drive Millionaires

If I secured a merit bursary, could I use my college fund as a deposit on a property? He agreed. I needed to work harder than ever to achieve the marks I needed. I studied straight through the school holidays. Plus, although all my aptitude tests said I shouldn’t go into engineering (anything but engineering), that’s what I was determined to do.

My great grandfather dug roads, my grandfather drove earthmoving equipment, my dad was a road technician — I saw a family legacy of growth, and I needed to become an industrial engineer to see it through.

I got the bursary, and I graduated, but I had to work extremely hard to do it. Nothing came easily. I even had to find my own rules to follow because the theory didn’t always make sense to me. I could see how natural it was for many of my peers. For me, it was hard work.

But it was the right decision. I’d chosen industrial engineering because it was all about optimising and making a business more profitable and effective. The engineering elements weren’t always easy for me, but the business side made complete sense. Today, I can go into a business and see what’s ineffective in their processes. I learnt so many terms I can apply; it’s been invaluable to me as a business consultant.

Small steps, big rewards

Through different side businesses, driving the Volvo 122, and staying at home to save money, I paid off my first property by the time I was 22. It was my first paid-off asset, worth just over R1 million. I could have moved into my new house, but it was an asset that could now earn me passive income, which I could use to purchase a second property, so I stayed at home and that’s what I did.

I also started consulting, and started an online media company, Gazzaroo, with a friend from varisty. He had the idea, but wanted me to help him execute it. We focused on web design, social media and branding. I had taught myself PhotoShop in school to market the other businesses. We launched in 2015 with R1 500, and two years later we have seven employees and a decent turnover that is steadily growing. My friend wanted to return to engineering, so I bought most of his shares and now spearhead the company.

It’s an important and often over-looked element of wealth building — you need more than one stream of income. You need to put focus and attention into everything you do, but if you can generate multiple streams of income, you’re already building a stronger base.

albert-van-wyk-gazzarooWhat I’ve learnt

Small starts have big results

By the time I was in varisty I was studying, had a business and my first property. I’d chat to my peers and their eyes would widen. They’d always say they wished they’d started early as well, or that they’d known it was possible when they were youngsters. It’s always possible, and it’s never too late to start. You just need a goal, and you need to take the first steps — and stick with them. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s slow and steady.

Success is the result of discipline, perseverance and passion

You need all three. You can’t have discipline and no passion. When the going gets tough, you either drop out or stick it through, and often the difference between the person who gives up and the one who doesn’t is passion — how much do you love what you do, or care about the goal you’re striving to achieve? If you have the passion, you then need to develop a mindset that is disciplined and will persevere. Most results aren’t quick — you have to keep at it. That’s the secret.

Don’t start with goals — start with yourself

Before you’ve even formulated goals, you need to take a good, long look at yourself. You need to take responsibility for yourself. There’s always a legitimate reason to let yourself off the hook if you look for it. Don’t. Drop the hook. Take full responsibility for the success of your goals. Stop saying you can’t afford to do something because of the economy, your salary or the poor exchange rate. There’s always a reason not to do something, but if you really want it, you’ll find a way.

Related: 4 Ways To Become A Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

We can achieve anything we set our mind to, provided we’re willing to be disciplined and persevere to achieve our goals

Change your way of thinking and speaking. Don’t say ‘I can’t because…..’. Instead say, ‘How can I affect this?’ Once you take responsibility for something, and reframe the way you look at things, it kicks your brain into action and you will find a solution. Be proactive instead of a victim of circumstances.

Once you’ve got your mindset right, set your goals

This is where your plan comes in. People always want to reach for the stars. That’s great, you must have dreams and goals, but don’t choose a crazy dream you can’t execute without breaking it down into small, manageable bits. You need something that you can achieve today, this week, this month — otherwise you will keep postponing it. You end up letting yourself off the hook — ‘I can’t achieve it today anyway, so I may as well start tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow…’

Start with small goals to reach your bigger goals

For me, I want to be an international public speaker. That’s not going to happen tomorrow. So, what can I do now? I need to start with becoming a national public speaker. Even that’s not going to happen right now, it’s still too big. Okay, I need to be knowledgeable about the topic — that I can do today. I can read a blog, watch a YouTube video, secure a gig — my big goal is suddenly broken down into small, achievable, daily goals, and there’s no reason to postpone because I can do something today.

Create a sense of urgency, put the pressure on and take responsibility

That’s how you’ll get there. Put in the hours, and then celebrate the small wins and stick with it.

You need the mental tools to persevere so that you don’t get derailed

This is so important. Make your goals your phone and PC wallpaper. Stimulate yourself with positive inputs — find motivational posts that are specific to you, and surround yourself with people that can support you and invest in them — when you need them, they will be there. I have an amazing support system, but it goes both ways. They can support you and uplift you, and you need to do the same for them.

Related: 12 Millionaire Habits To Start Making Serious Money Soon And Build Wealth In A Hurry

You also need to give yourself reality checks

Pay attention so that you can recognise bad vibes creeping up on you. It happens to everyone, so develop the tools to recognise them and check yourself. Empower the people close to you to be able to tell you when you’re being negative. We have a saying at Gazzaroo: When things are bad, they will go better; when things are good, that’s great, but they might go wrong. Stay grounded so that you can handle the curveballs, but stay positive.


a-guidebook-for-building-wealthRead This

A Guidebook for Building Wealth

Fuelled by dreams and the destination, Albert van Wyk has written and self-published a collection of the tools he has developed in his quest to achieve financial freedom.

Available at all good bookstores and through Albert’s website, www.millionaireat22.com.

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Lessons Learnt

Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt

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You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:

Leadership

The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.

Infrastructure

The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.

People

It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.

Strategy

It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.

Finance

Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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Lessons Learnt

That Time Jeff Bezos Was The Stupidest Person In The Room

Everyone can benefit from simple advice, no matter who they are.

Gene Marks

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When you think of Jeff Bezos, a lot of things probably come to your mind.

You likely think of Amazon.com, a company he founded more than twenty years ago, that’s completely disrupted retail and online commerce as we know it. You probably also think of his entrepreneurial genius. Or the immense wealth that he’s built for himself and others. You may also think of drones, Alexa and same-day delivery. Bezos is a visionary, an entrepreneur, a cutthroat competitor and a game changer. He’s unquestionably a very, very smart man. But sometimes, he can be…well…stupid, too.

Like that time back in 1995.

That was when Amazon was just a startup operating from a 2,000 square foot basement in Seattle. During that period, Bezos and most of the handful of employees working for him had other day jobs. They gathered in the office after hours to print and pack up the orders that their fast-growing bookselling site was receiving each day from around the world. It was tough, grueling work.

The company at the time, according to a speech Bezos gave, had no real organisation or distribution. Worse yet, the process of filling orders was physically demanding.

“We were packing on our hands and knees on a hard concrete floor,” Bezos recalled. “I said to the person next to me ‘this packing is killing me! My back hurts, it’s killing my knees’ and the person said ‘yeah, I know what you mean.'”

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

Bezos, our hero, the entrepreneurial genius, the CEO of a now 600,000-employee company that’s worth around a trillion dollars and one of the richest men in the world today then came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea. “You know what we need,” he said to the employee as they packed boxes together. “What we need is…kneepads!”

The employee (Nicholas Lovejoy, who worked at Amazon for three years before founding his own philanthropic organisation financed by the millions he made from the company’s stock) looked at Bezos like he was — in Bezos’ words — the “stupidest guy in the room.”

“What we need, Jeff,” Lovejoy said, “are a few packing tables.” Duh.

So the next day Bezos – after acknowledging Lovejoy’s brilliance – bought a few inexpensive packing tables. The result? An almost immediate doubling in productivity. In his speech, Bezos said that the story is just one of many examples how Amazon built its customer-centered service culture from the company’s very early days. Perhaps that’s true. Then again, it could mean something else.

It could mean that sometimes, just sometimes, those successful, smart, wealthy and powerful people may not be as brilliant as you may think. Nor do they always have the right answers. Sometimes, just sometimes, they may actually be the stupidest guy in the room. So keep that in mind the next time you’re doing business with an intimidating customer, supplier or partner who appears to know it all. You might be the one with the brilliant idea.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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How Sureswipe Built Its Identity By Building A Strong Company Culture

Culture is unique to a business, it’s the reason why companies win or lose.

Nadine Todd

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A company’s culture is its identity and personality. Since this is closely linked to its brand and how it wants to be viewed by its employees, customers, competitors and the outside world, culture is critical. The challenge is understanding that culture contains unwritten rules and that certain behaviours that align to the culture the company is nurturing should be valued and cherished more than others.

At Sureswipe, the core of our culture is that we value people and what they are capable of. We particularly value people who are engaged, get on with the job, take initiative, are happy to get stuck in beyond their formal job descriptions, and who sometimes have to suck up a bit of pain to get through a challenge.

We include culture in everything we do, so it’s a fundamental element in our recruitment process. In addition to a skills and experience interview, each candidate undergoes a culture fit in the form of a values interview. We look for top performers who echo our core values (collaboration, courage, taking initiative, fairness and personal responsibility) and have real conviction about making a difference in the lives of independent retailers. If we don’t believe a candidate will be a culture fit, we won’t hire them.

If we make a mistake in the recruitment process, we won’t retain culture killers, even if they are top performers. This is such a tough lesson to learn, but it liberates a company and often improves overall company performance.

Culture should be cultivated, constantly communicated and used when making decisions. At Sureswipe, we often talk about what it takes to win and have simplified winning into three key elements: A simple, yet inspirational vision; the right culture; and a clear and focused strategy. The first and third elements can be copied from organisation to organisation. Culture on the other hand is unique to every business and can be a great influencer in its success.

Catch phrases on the wall are not the definition of culture

A strong culture is purposeful and evolving. It’s what makes a company great, but also exposes its weakness. No company is perfect and it’s important to acknowledge the good and the bad. Without it, we cannot ensure that we are protecting and building on the good and reducing or eradicating the bad.

Mistakes happen. That’s okay. But we are very purposeful about how mistakes are handled. Culturally we’re allergic to things being covered up or deflected and have had great learning moments as individuals and as an organisation when bad news travels fast. It’s liberating to ‘tell it like it is’ and almost always, with a few more minds on the problem at hand, things can be rectified with minimal impact.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

Culture should be built on values that resonate with you and that you want to excel at. In our case, some are lived daily and others are aspirational in that we’re still striving for them. In each case we genuinely believe in them and encourage each other to keep living them. This increases the level of trust within the team, as there is consistency in how people are treated and how we get things done.

We are always inspired when, after sitting in our reception area, nine out of ten visitors will comment on the friendliness of staff. We hear their remarks about how friendly the Sureswipe team is or a potential candidate will talk about the high level of energy and positivity they experience throughout the interview process.

These are indicators that our culture is alive and well. It’s these components of our culture — friendliness, helpfulness and positivity — that cascade into how we do business and how we treat our customers and people in general. Being able to describe your culture and support it with real life examples is a great way to communicate and promote the type of behaviour that is important and recognised within the organisation.

Culture doesn’t just happen

We are fortunate that culture has always been important to us, even if it wasn’t clearly defined in our early days. As we grew it became important to be more purposeful in the evolution of our culture. About four years ago, the senior leadership team and nominated cultural or values icons were mandated to relook all things cultural.

A facilitator said to us, “You really love it when people take the initiative, and get very frustrated when they don’t.” That accurate insight became core to our values. We love to see people proactively solve problems, take responsibility for their own growth, initiate spontaneous events, change their tactics or implement new ideas. It energises us and aligns to the way we do business.

We celebrate growth and love to see our staff getting promoted due to their hard work and perseverance. We recently had one of our earliest technicians get promoted to the Regional Manager of Limpopo. It was one of the best moments of 2018.

Be purposeful with culture, describe it, communicate it and use it in all aspects of business. Culture should change. Don’t allow phrases like ‘this is not how we do things,’ or, ‘the culture here is changing,’ to stifle the growth and development of your culture. When done correctly change is a good thing. Culture is driven from the top but at the end of the day it’s a company-wide initiative. Design it together with team members from different parts of the organisation to get the most from it. And then make sure everyone lives and breathes it.

Cost Cutting

The best ROI is achieved when you stop wasting money.

Peter Drucker once said that businesses have two main functions — marketing and innovation — that produce results. “All the rest are costs.”

If you agree, that means that the average business has a lot of fat to trim. Obviously you can go overboard trying to cut costs too. My philosophy has been to look at some of the general areas where you can add some efficiency but not at the expense of impairing your most valuable resource — your focus.

The following cost-cutting measures will do that. Think of these as adding value to your company, whether it’s time, creativity or a closer connection to your consumers.

Related: Wise Words From wiGroup On Building A “Wow” Company Culture

Uncover inefficiencies in your process

This is where I begin. In fact, it was analysing the inefficiencies of legal communication and knowledge sharing that led me to create Foxwordy, the digital collaboration platform for lawyers. I noticed that attorneys in our clients’ legal departments were drafting new documents from scratch when they could pool their knowledge and save time by using language that a trusted colleague had employed in a similar document. Business is all about process. When you create a new process, or enhance an existing process, you will drive cost efficiency.

Refine your process, then automate

If existing processes are lacking, it is time to create process. If you have processes, but they are not driving efficiency, it’s time to redefine your process. Either way, a key second step is refining processes that are needed in your business. Only then can you go to automation, since automating without a process will result in chaos — and won’t save time or money. Similarly, automating a poor process is not going to give you the cost-saving results you are looking for.

Thanks to the Cloud, there are very accessible means of automating manual processes. For instance, you can automate bookkeeping functions with FreshBooks and use chatbots to interface with clients — for very basic information. If you’re a retailer, a chatbot on your site can explain your return policy or address other frequently asked questions. Automating such processes allows you to spend more time focusing on clients and customers. Technology alone isn’t a panacea for all business functions, but if you find something you’re doing manually that can be automated, take a look and consider how much time and process definition automation would save you.

Rethink your outreach

Marketing and outreach are usually big and important challenges for an organisation. In my experience, there are two main components to successful marketing — knowing your customers and using the most effective media to spread your message. For the first part, I recommend polling. There are various online survey services that offer an instant read on what your customers are thinking. You may think business is humming along, but a survey could reveal that while consumers like your product, a few tweaks would make it even better.

For the second part — marketing messaging — once you have a firm idea of your marketing messaging, Facebook is a great vehicle for outreach. The ability to granularly target customers and create Lookalike audiences (from around 1 000 consumers) can help grow your business.

Related: Take Responsibility For Your Company’s Culture To Boost Productivity

Scrutinise your spend history

There are tools that can help you assess spend history and find cost-cutting opportunities. For example, you might be able to take advantage of rewards or loyalty programmes to reduce common business expenses, like travel, or consolidate vendors for a similar function. If you have a long-standing relationship with a vendor, negotiate better pricing.

The most important elements to keep in mind are resources that make your company special. Your company may be built on one person’s reputation and expertise. Guard against tarnishing that reputation with inappropriate messaging in advertising or social media. If your company’s special sauce is intellectual property, protect that too. But everything else — ranging from physical property to salary and benefits — are costs and should be considered negotiable. — Monica Zent

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