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How Auto and Truck Tyres Serial Entrepreneur Built an Empire Despite All Odds

3:00am Start times, a broken back and one hijacking might have slowed him down but Rob Beaumont didn’t let it stop him in his drive to build an Auto and Truck Tyres business with an annual turnover of R700 million. So what’s stopping you?

Monique Verduyn

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There’s nothing average about Rob Beaumont. The 51-year-old founder of Auto and Truck Tyres, a business with a R700 million turnover, is a serial entrepreneur who has owned more companies than he can even remember.

An extreme sports enthusiast, he also survived a plane crash some years back that left him with a 40% chance of walking again – and yet gym, aerobatics and extreme offroad motor-biking remain his favourite hobbies.

Related: 5 Steps to Build a Million-Dollar Business in One Year

Beaumont doesn’t think like others do. Confronted with a locked door and no key, most people would call a locksmith – he’s more likely to blow a hole in the wall to save time. It’s that non-conformist thinking that has led him to build an empire despite having little education.

He started his working life as a tyre fitter in overalls, but was soon determined to work for himself after becoming disillusioned with bad service and empty promises.

What made you go into business?

The short answer is that everyone I worked with were not true to their word. Seriously though, I am passionate about service and I was never satisfied with the way my employers treated their customers. At Auto and Truck Tyres, customer service is everything.

Also, I found that people don’t keep their word. After I became a successful sales rep, one of my bosses made lots of promises to me and when I doubled his business, he told me he could not afford to keep any of them. I owe my success to keeping my word.

That is more important than anything else. We recently made a mistake that upset one of our customers – I made sure that we paid him out ten times the value of the error to prove that I will always stand by my word and be honourable above all else.

What does success mean to you?

Ten years ago, when I bought a fitment centre that I used to work at in my overalls, the feeling was overwhelming – I had come full circle.

Now, when people ask me what I’m striving for, what I really want above all is for everyone who works for me to really, really want to work for me. I’m a people person.

What thinking do you believe is limiting to entrepreneurs?Rob-Beaumont-plane

I don’t think people always understand how much hard work is required. I did not have leave for ten years. I used to start work at 3.00am, head into the bakery/chocolate factory, and be at Auto and Truck Tyres by 9.00am.

I remember eventually taking my girlfriend for a holiday to the Wild Coast. I was so exhausted that I slept for three days. Success really does not come easy.

I also think most companies fail because people start spending their turnover. For a decade, I drove a bakkie. I put every cent I earned back into the business, and I still do that today. I love my toys, but I pay cash for them. I’m mad about cars and I own a few luxury vehicles now, but I don’t owe on them. I also have no attachment to them and will sell as quickly as I buy.

I advise people to get an education. I did not, and I believe success would have come more quickly if I had been a lawyer or an accountant.

Related: Are You Limiting Your Business?

How did you overcome adversity?

I crashed a jet in 1999, breaking my back in three places as well as almost every bone in my body. I was told I would probably not walk again, and that I could never run, ride a bike or fly a plane ever again.

A few years ago I was shot in a hijacking and I remember lying on the hospital gurney, looking down at the floor which was covered in blood.

I recovered fully from both incidents and I still have pain every day, but my approach to life is key to my success – I simply will not be stopped.

What does it mean to think ‘differently’?

It saved my life. I was practicing for an air show once, doing humpty bumps – a combination of ascending and descending lines with a loop between both.

I was flying over the highway, on my way down vertically and I pulled the stick but there was no response. I tried again, and by this time I was doing 400km an hour and the ground was rushing up towards me. I got a fright and pushed too hard, and the g-force was putting me to sleep.

I spotted a car on the highway and all I could think was ‘aim for the roof’, because then I could release as much of the g’s as possible.

I did, and the car actually drove off the road because I came so close, but I managed to fly out inverted and gain safe height for rolling the plane upright.

I’m not sure how many people would think of doing that, because essentially I could have ended up making a hole in the ground.

How do extreme sports fit into the life of a busy business owner?

My whole life has been extreme. I’ve ridden all types of bikes, driven racing cars and flown many different types of planes.

It’s part of who I am. I’m restless by nature and always looking for something new. Even in business, I’ve tried hundreds of different ventures, including a bakery, a chocolate factory and a cosmetics company.

I wouldn’t necessarily do that again because it can distract you from your main focus. However, it does give you the opportunity to experiment. One of my most successful ventures has been a private hospital in Rustenburg that employs 330 nurses.

My team know that I have a notepad next to my bed. They shudder when I come to work with rings under my eyes and a head full of ideas.

Related: 8 Steps to Become Wealthy In Every Sense Of The Word

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Melanie

    Feb 26, 2015 at 09:49

    We need more unstoppable people like you! Very inspirational character!!

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Lessons Learnt

7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners

Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.

Nadine Todd

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“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.” 

So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs

1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely

The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million

2. Stop planning and start doing

We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

3. Play your heart out and the money will follow

I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

4. Love learning lessons

What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million

5. Landing an investor starts with your story

A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

6. Offer solutions

If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group

7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits

One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark

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Lessons Learnt

Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow

From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.

Entrepreneur

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In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?

1. Bring everyone in

“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare

2. Be vulnerable

“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy

Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss

3. Lend a hand

“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors

4. Move as a group

“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility

5. Trust your team

“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala

Related: 5 Leadership Questions Every Boss Should Ask

6. Respect others’ time

“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig 

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Lessons Learnt

11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.

John Rampton

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Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

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