December 22nd, 2013

An Entrepreneur’s Hunger for Revenue (or Money)

Last week I met this really successful entrepreneur. I’m shan’t reveal his name but I’ll say he’s this really successful and famous entrepreneur in Malaysia. I’ve heard loads of things about him before I met him… how he built his business from scratch and how he’s very “China Man” in the sense that as long as any business decision would make him good money he would do it. And China Man in the sense that he runs his business very efficiently with very little wastage.

I met him with that expectation but what I saw still blew me away.

You see when I met him I happened to witness how he was chasing a deal for RM30,000. He was personally dealing with a client and pitching ideas on why this client should spend this RM30,000 with him instead of his competitor. He fought for it really hard. Now forget the fact that he was a good salesmen because most successful entrepreneurs I know can pitch their products well.. but he looked like he was desperate for the money… almost as if his entire business depended on this one RM30,000 deal.

When I went back to the office after meeting him I did some research on his company. I learned that his company is fully owned by him, and makes RM35,000,000 a year in profits. I was blown away… not by the fact that this private company he personally owns make so much money, but the fact that in spite of him earning so much money and in spite of that RM30,000 being a tiny percentage of his profit let alone revenue… he fought for it so hard with so much hunger.

Lessons I took for myself

It made me reflect on myself and how I hungry I was for more sales/revenues or money when I conduct business. I do admit that I’m a bit less cost conscious as I was when I first started Nuffnang. Today we’re more lenient on spending money especially if we think there is a good cause for it (like bringing our team to Sunway Lagoon for a day out). And yes I still have a great amount of respect for money, careful not to take it for granted.

When I first started, one of our “big” deals in the early days was RM10,000. Today whenever I hear a sales person say “Ohh the deal I closed? Not big la.. just RM15,000″, I always remind him that the smallest deal I ever did was RM100 (and I had to work really hard for it because that RM100 meant a lot to that one client) and that no money was too small. I never use the phrase “Small money”.

But when you compare me with this so called China Man entrepreneur who is well rich and in his 50s, he displayed a lot more hunger for money than I ever have.

I respect wealthy people who respect money. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think they should not spend on business class air tickets or expensive cars or watches… it just means that they treat money as something very finite… no matter how much they have.

But today I learn that I respect even more wealthy and successful people who fight for every dollar in business no matter how much money they have. Wouldn’t you like to be a shareholder in a business like that? A business driven by an entrepreneur that fights for every dollar like it was his last.

Yes of course too much of one thing could be bad… so in practice I think we all have to strike a balance… but I think the mindset of having respect for money whether it’s yours or someone else’s is important. If you have this respect for every dollar your client spends with you then wouldn’t it motivate you to make sure your client gets good value for the money he or she spends with you?

Or if you’re an employee and you have this respect for every dollar your company spends on your salary, then wouldn’t you want to work hard to make sure you bring value of your own… and in doing so make you a more important part of the company and be up for future raises and promotions? Having this respect for money I believe just brings you more money.

I hope I not only could practice this but also pass this mindset down to my team… and to my kids.