Last weekend, I met a rather unsuspecting man at a sports event. ‘Unsuspecting’ because even though I knew him for a year – and kinda guessed that he’s quite enterprising - but I had no clue that he was THAT enterprising.
At only 32 years old, he owns a chain of 31 laundry shops throughout the major states in Malaysia, 2 coffee restaurant franchises, and a mid-tier hotel.
I was quick to guess that he probably inherited his wealth from his parents; I was right. But it was just two years ago that the spurt of growth of his family businesses happened under his stewardship.
I found that truly remarkable not just because of his amazing accomplishments for his age. He didn’t finish school. By white-collar world standards, he would have been considered ‘uneducated’. Which seems so, given he dropped out of school to perform various manual labor jobs.
Why did I bring this up? Because Alvex Wee is one fine example that how well (or not so well) you did in school has little or no bearing on how you perform in your later life.
More than that, I dug deeper on his views on wealth creation and ultimately, I asked what advice he has for people who are just starting out (or worse, starting several steps behind the starting line).
Here Is What He Advises:
Lesson #1: Think BIG
“Big risk, big rewards,” Alvex says. ”Oh, and think BIG too.” That’s coming from someone who doesn’t really read books, partly because his command of English isn’t as good as his Chinese.
Up until the point he took over, his parents ran a single family business for decades. If you know anything about running a brick-and-mortar business then surely you know it’s anything but easy.
The hours are long and the profit margins aren’t that high.
Thus he devised a plan to rapidly expand his family business through a form of franchising their laundry business – first through other extended family members, then to friends and other business connections they have been making.
So they went from a single laundry shop to a chain of 31 laundry shops in the span of just two years!
Had he just continued carrying on his parent’s tradition, he would probably wind up running the same old business until his children grows up and maybe take over. Maybe.
Lesson #2: People In General Have A Short Memory
While Alvex is significantly more successful today, many people including those who know him for a long time have almost forgot his humble beginnings.
Since Alvex didn’t have the luck of finishing school, it was no surprise that he was looked down and perceived as ‘stupid’ by his peers. To add salt to injury, he had made a sizable amount of goofs and mistakes before reaching where he is today. But no one today is about to remind him of them.
So don’t worry if you’re looked down upon today because you are at a ‘wannabe’ stage right now or that you have yet to prove yourself. When you make it one day, most people in general will forget about your past struggles, and those who do will speak more favorably about your earlier struggles.
Lesson #3: Buy Properties
An extension of Lesson 1 but it deserves to be a lesson in itself: get into properties. After generating cash flow from your business and other sources of income, your next goal of investing shall be in properties.
He says, “people will always grow in numbers, but the land will always remain the same.”
I thought this an interesting echo because I know of other Internet Entrepreneurs who are actively pouring their cash flow surplus into real estate. If you own an online business like me, you might wonder if this is actually worth the hassle. (I was also put off by the thought of it because I hate the paperwork A LOT)
But consider this: which one is going to be around 5, 10, 20 years from now still making money for you? Your online business or your properties?
Which one requires less to no active work on passive income? Income from your rental or income from a business you have to keep working in/on?
Properties may be labeled ‘Wealth 1.0′ by today’s standards but it has created solid wealth for people for centuries, and that won’t change for a long, long time to come.
Lesson #4: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
When I attended a personal growth seminar in Phuket, Thailand not long ago, one of the speakers onstage said something that struck me. “The problem with most Internet Marketers and solo workers is that the longer they work alone, the more they develop ‘tunnel vision’.”
While most people often begin their entrepreneurial journey alone, staying ‘solo’ is harmful to your business and personal growth in the long run. This was the mindset his parents adopted for decades. Over here in Malaysia, there are still many ‘moms and pops’ businesses even today.
And most small businesses remain ‘moms and pops’ because they want to keep the earnings and control just among their family members. I had that mentality for many years too, when I wanted only my sister to work on my day-to-day online business operations and no one else – even though she wasn’t passionate about Internet Marketing like I am, and desired to do something else.
Eventually, I changed my mind. I let my sister go so she could pursue her own passions. And then I started my own office premise and as I am writing this, I am interviewing people to be part of my permanent team.
Alvex went big and to grow a chain of multiple businesses require another level of ingenuity and delegation. So of course, to run a chain of multiple laundry shops and other businesses wouldn’t have been possible without a strong management and leadership skills.
I think smart people might struggle more with accepting this. The problem with being the best in one or some trades is that you tend to do everything yourself and trust others less to do it. Don’t try to accomplish everything on your own – or you will die of exhaustion.
Ultimately, you need to realize you can’t do everything yourself and if you want opportunities to grow, you also need to give other people an opportunity to be part of your vision.
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