Even billionaires need mentors

By Allon Raiz

Recently, I watched a series on the History Channel called “The men who built America” and what struck me most was the interconnectedness between industrial giants like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford and JP Morgan, who all came from humble beginnings and built enormous business empires. These were the people who built modern America – from the steel and motor industries to the railways and financial services – and they were all linked to one another either as mentors, rivals or clients. Apart from their connections to each other, they also sought counsel from people who they viewed as more successful, or who had more insight, wisdom and more experience than themselves. They had no issues, even as visionaries, with submitting to the wisdom of others.

My mentor is a dollar billionaire. We met when I was 23 years of age and he backed me in my first business – which failed. The second time, he backed me not with money but by surrounding me with people who could support me with advice on finance, marketing, sales and so on. This time, I succeeded because I was surrounded by wisdom, and not because of money.

I thought, surely, my mentor was of such stature that he must be all-knowing when it came to building a business empire. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out that he, too, had a mentor – someone who backed him both financially and with advice on his journey as an emerging giant.

Raizcorp has been modelled on my experience with my mentor. We surround entrepreneurs with people who can give them the right guidance to ensure that they can build long-term, sustainable businesses that can create family wealth for generations to come.

One of the biggest errors in our thinking today is that money is what we need. But it is not money we require; it is wisdom. In fact, money can even be detrimental. I offer the real example of Joe Mkhize (not his real name), who ran a business that did vinyl sign applications on to containers and had contracts with a number of cell phone companies. He employed nine people full-time, generated R400 000 net profit per year, and earned a salary of R60 000 per month. He then received the option of a grant for R1 million and decided to buy a state-of-the-art, wide-format printer to print his own vinyl signage.

Unfortunately, his premises couldn’t house his new printer so he had to find larger, more expensive premises. Also, he didn’t have the ability to operate the printer so he needed additional technical staff. He realised if his technician fell ill or took leave, he would be unable to operate the printer and therefore needed a second technical person for redundancy. The new printer also had to be insured and so on.

The sum of all these additional costs instantly turned a profitable business into an unprofitable business. The additional funding, without the correct advice, derailed a business with huge hope for growth, and it closed down within the year.

A sponsored business-growth at Raizcorp can help you avoid these and other pitfalls, and provide the wisdom and advice you need to make a success of your business. Our business-support platform offers enthusiastic and growth-hungry entrepreneurs learning and guidance that translates into tangible results. After all, even billionaires need mentors …