malaysian-entrepreneur.com caught up with Azizi during the recent KL International Book Fair in PWTC. Read the exciting interview with him.
Tell us your story
Not many people know that I actually owned a music shop as my first business venture. It didn't go well, because I lost RM 100,000 in 2 years! But I learned my lesson after that. I didn't have proper knowledge needed to run a music shop. So I switched to my passion, which has always been writing books on finance. I knew then, that my books were going to sell.
Initially I was a one-man operation: I would receive mail orders from home, package the books and personally go to the post office to mail those books to the customers. As more orders came in, the business expanded and I needed more help, so I employed people to work for me one at a time. We moved into a bigger office. People seemed to like my books so much that some even asked me to give seminars on financial planning, so I started to give seminars. I had an accomplice to help me organize the seminar events while all I had to do was to speak to participants.
Now we have an average of 100 to 200 people per seminar, and we hope to have 500-1000 people per session in the future.
Why do you think people keep coming to your seminars?
1) I'm a very practical speaker - I do more practical than theory-based work.
2) I cater to Malaysians who want to know more about finance. Even my books are catered to Malaysians. Financial books written in other countries are not 100% applicable to us Malaysians, my books are 100% applicable.
3) I'm a real-life person. People can relate to me when I speak to them.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you see your company in 5 years time?
Definitely doing what I do best - writing better books and giving more seminars to educate people. We've had about 127% growth for a few years and the company should be worth around RM 10 million by 2010.
What do you think prevents Malaysians from daring to go into entrepreneurship?
Firstly, I need to stress that starting a business is not everyone's cup of tea. Not everyone has to necessary qualities to do so. A person needs to have enough knowledge on business - not only the technical aspects (buying and selling) , but also other areas such as marketing, human resource management, and financial management. You must have the ability to make quick decisions. But not everybody makes good decisions all the times ( I've made some mistakes too ), but the point is to learn from those mistakes and keep going with courage. Also, read more books to gain more knowledge, and get a mentor if possible.
What do you think is the current trend in business? Where is the potential market?
It is not necessary to follow the latest business trend. Let's take an example: Suppose currypuffs ( Azizi was having a currypuff for tea at that time) sell very good today, so you start a currypuff business. But the next day, flourescent lights ( we were sitting directly beneath a flourescent light bulb) sell like hot cakes. Are you going to switch businesses because of that?
Instead, you should follow your interest AND your money-making prospect.
(Takes a pen and paper and draws a Venn diagram)
People who are engulfed too much in their interest will not think of the money - in the end they won't make any money. People who are too money-minded will only focus on the money, and that is not good. If you do not have the interest, you can still do well , but chances are you probably won't last long. Pick a right balance of interest and money-making prospect, and you will be successful.
For me, I really love books, and I can spend hours in a bookstore, just like my children who spend hours in Toys R Us.
What is your advice for Malaysians who want to start their own business?
Rule number 1 in business - sell things that people want.
Also, try to have more work experience in relevant fields before starting off.
Let's say there are two people who started their businesses. One decided to start from scratch, and the other decided to obtain a huge investment from banks to fund a multi-million dollar business. What do you think of starting small against starting big?
I assume that the second person knows what he/she is doing when borrowing millions of dollars from banks.
But to me, I don't recommend borrowing big money to start businesses , because money should only be borrowed for growth. If a factory is making money and wishes to expand its production line, then borrowing money is not wrong - because the factory will grow in production. Always keep in mind that if you borrow money from the bank, you have to pay back some time later. So it's not a good idea to start a very big business ( which might fail) by borrowing money.
Visit www.millionairesplanet.com to know more about Azizi Ali!