Learning From the Young and Rich – Part 2 : Under30CEO Learning From the Young and Rich – Part 2 : Under30CEO
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Learning From the Young and Rich – Part 2

| June 30, 2010 | 3 Comments

young and richRecently on Under30CEO Jack Delosa examined the members of the Australian BRW Young Rich List to gain insight into the strategies they use to build their wealth. Here he continues dissecting the lessons that can be learned from Australia’s wealthiest entrepreneurs under 40. The average wealth of the people on this list is $65.5 million.

Every year BRW magazine publish “The Young Rich List”. The list includes the 100 wealthiest people in Australia under 40 and is read religiously by most people who are looking to create wealth.

Given that the combined net-worth of these people is $5.7 billion and they are all self-made, I think we can trust that these people understand how to make money.

1. Fake it until you make it. An important skill of any start-up or small business is to be able to look bigger than you are. Entrepreneurs are masters at giving the impression they are a large organization, when in fact they live in a studio apartment and had to catch the tram just to meet with you.

Stuart and Nicole Patterson started a building repair business when they were 24 and 23 respectively. Because they were dealing with large clients, they understood the importance of looking the part. They started the business in their rented two bedroom apartment – this was their office. Nicole would answer the phone as “the receptionist” and would direct the different calls to different people (different people being Stuart) in a number of different “departments”.

Business is about delivery and it’s also about show-business. Thanks to such a convincing performance, Stuart and Nicole have grown Pattersons Building Group into a company with revenues of $42 million per year and 70 staff.

Although the performance was a convincing one, they always understood the importance of delivery. “We delivered. We never failed a client. We had built a reliable network behind the scenes.”

2. Back yourself. While Gerry Harvey, founder of Harvey Norman, was closing down stores throughout the year to cut costs, Nigel and Tania Austin, co-founders of Cotton On, were opening three new stores a week over the 08/09 financial year. This aggressive approach to capturing market share has paid dividends for Cotton On.

This is not to say that had Gerry Harvey opened up more stores rather than shutting them down, then his wealth would not have dropped by $400 million in 12 months. But it is to say that there is always more than one approach and being greedy when others are fearful, can pay dividends in the long run.

Nigel and Tania Austin have seen their wealth jump from $125 million to $156 million, doing just that.

3. Focus on the people. Cotton On’s growth is highly aggressive, to the point where it has even drawn criticism recently by commentators who say that the growth is not sustainable. However Nigel Austin says that it’s the people in the business that have been able to ensure they have met their aggressive growth targets. “We spent a lot of money on management training to make sure our people have the right skills to drive growth.” He attributes the success of Cotton On to, the “excellent managers right across Cotton On who are real leaders and business builders.”

4. Have clear targets. Given what the economy has done over the last 18 months, most entrepreneurs have not hit their financial targets. However in business as in life, it’s the goals we choose to set for ourselves and live by, that will influence our direction more than any external factor. It has been said that what lies in front of us, and behind us, is far less important than what lies within us.

As Shaun Bonett, number 5 on the list says, “I’ve found it makes me focus on managing for the longer term. It also helps to make all the challenges you are going through at a time like this feel like a worthwhile learning experience.”

Overall the Young Rich held up very well over the last 12 months. The Rich List, which includes the richest 200 people in Australia (mainly over 40 years of age), saw their wealth drop by 18 per cent this year. Whereas the wealth on the Young Rich List, only dropped by 4.5 per cent – a great achievement considering we have just experienced the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s.

Each person on the Young Rich List started out with a deliberate plan, however small it may have been. Whether they started in their rented apartment or started by doing their own books on their girlfriends computer, their achievements came from deliberate decision making backed by action.

Of all the people on the Young Rich List, none ended up there by accident.

Read: Learning From the Young and Rich Part 1

Jack Delosa has been named in the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30, in Australian Anthill Magazine’s 30Under30 Publication. Jack has recently founded The Entourage, a community of young business people committed to learning from the experience of the previous generation of top entrepreneurs. jack.d@jackdelosa.com.au

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Category: Startup Advice