“Competition makes you better, always, always makes you better, even if the competitor wins.” Mexico’s richest man was always “rich” with advice and the lessons he learned the hard way. However, embracing healthy competition instead of tearing down fellow entrepreneurs was always how Slim did business, even if it wasn’t orthodox in the environment where he thrived.
When companies struggle, they usually blame increased competition and unfavorable economic conditions. Carlos Slim seems to thrive on downturns and recessions. Slim’s business portfolio, under the holding company Grupo Carso, is much more diversified: it includes real estate, retail, telecom, mining, financial services, tobacco, aluminum, tires, copper, insurance, restaurants, oil and gas, paper, hotels, and more. People in Mexico say you can’t live a day of your life without somehow giving money to Slim’s empire.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Carlos Slim Helu – “Wealthiest Man in Mexico” for entrepreneurs,
1. Making money in a downturn
An aspect of Carlos that is unique, is that he made a significant part of his fortune during one of the hardest economic recessions in Mexico. His strategy was to find relatively healthy companies that were undervalued based on overly negative sentiment.
“The collapse of investor confidence, currency exchange and prices led to inexplicably low prices for very valuable companies that had no major financial problems” For example, Cemex, one of the largest cement companies in the World, was worth 26 million dollars – as of today (January 2016) it is worth $60 Billion.
2. Have simple organizational structures
Always have simple organizational structures, minimal hierarchical levels; provide human and in-house development of the executives; maintain flexibility and fast decision-making capability; work with the advantages of a small company.
3. Stay focused on modernization, growth, training, quality
Its important to stay focused on modernization, growth, training, quality, simplification and the continuous improvement of production processes. Increase productivity and competitiveness; reduce costs and expenses, judge performance based on global benchmarks.
4. Live without fear and guilt
Carlos Slim mentions that fear is the worst feeling men can have, it weakens them, inhibits action and depresses them. Guilt is a tremendous burden in our lives, the way we think and act. Guilt and fear make the present difficult and obstruct the future. To fight them, let us have good sense and accept ourselves as we are, with our realities, our merits and our sorrows.
5. Invest in areas that customers find it difficult to avoid you
Carlos has invested in real estate, bakeries, telecoms, education institutions, healthcare, fashion, museums etc. By doing this, he is serving his customers every day in different ways. People joke that: Mexico should be renamed “Slimlandia” because it is impossible to avoid contributing to his vast empire.
6. Good education helps one manage big business better
Decision making enables business success. Carlos experience encourages one to invest during economic down times as well as the boom. During economic down time, premium companies can be purchased at a fraction of their true share values.
7. Be humble
Being wealthy is a huge responsibility. Carlos stays in a 6 bedroom house in the area he has lived for more than 40 years. He drives himself to the office about 1 mile away from his home. He has kept the family together. There is a particular time every week for dinner with his sons and a particular day for dinner with his grand children (23 in total).
8. Prepare yourself
Many people took notice of Carlos Slim Helu when he made a move to acquire Telmex and emerged on the Forbes list of world billionaires but prior to that; Carlos Slim Helu has been preparing to undergo the entrepreneurial process.
One attribute of becoming a successful entrepreneur is the ability to recognize business opportunities when it comes knocking. Aliko Dangote (the richest black man in the world) once said that to succeed in business; you have to pray for a big break and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when it comes.
9. Stick to the game
Entrepreneurship is a game; so also is investing. To succeed in this game, you must be committed to the entrepreneurial process and play to win. Before emerging the richest man in the world; Carlos Slim Helu has already found success as an entrepreneur and had every cause to retire. Yet, he stuck to the process.
10. Understand your business to the core
Another reason why Carlos Slim Helu became the richest man in the world was because he understood his business to the core. Carlos Slim Helu is reputed to control over 200 companies all over the world. How did he start? How did he get there? He was able to start a business and grow to over 200 companies because he understood his business to the core.