Reza Mokhtarian believes in “freedom for whatever we do.” The young CEO of Sky Venture Group—an investment management and private equity firm in Canada, holding a basket of multi-millionaire dollar companies including Kaizen Global—is the first to speak out against holding a nine-to-five job.
“Do you know what ‘job’ stands for? Just over broke. J.O.B,” quips Reza Mokhtarian.
Contrary to popular belief, freedom is not about being lazy. It means using your passion, skills, and energy to custom create a life of your choosing. “That way,” explains Reza Mokhtarian, “your time is truly your own.”
His book, Change Your Bloodline: A Renegade’s Guide to Building Empires outlines five steps new entrepreneurs must take to set themselves upon the right path. “It all starts with your mindset… Once you have that, everything else will fall into place.”
Passion is the most effective motivator when it comes to launching a business of your own. Not only that, it is also one of the strongest predictors whether your idea will lead to success or failure.
Most people aren’t clear about their passion. “You might be a passionate person,” says the Kaizen Global and Sky Venture Group CEO, “but chances are that you lack the drive that results from having a specific, focused passion.” Finding that passion—knowing what you are passionate about—is the first step towards achieving freedom.
“Getting rich is not a passion,” he explains. While you may feel passionate about becoming wealthy, the acquisition of wealth is the result of having found a passion and the dedication to pursue it. “Never confuse wealth with success,” he advises.
But why not, you may ask?
Launching a business simply to make money is almost certain to end in failure. “If all you care about is making money, you are going to treat your business as a chore rather than a gift…You will not look for opportunities to expand it. You will not spend time networking, researching, and marketing it. Both you and your business will stagnate, and this is suicide. Businesses are like sharks. They have to keep moving forward or they’ll die.”
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” states Reza Mokhtarian. So how do you go from plotting goals to creating a concrete plan of action?
He suggests a simple exercise: “Take out a piece of blank paper. In the middle of the page, I want you to write down that one thing that you are most passionate about in life—something that fills you with intense satisfaction; something that you would spend your time doing, even if you weren’t going to be paid for it.”
Let’s say you wrote down the word cars. “Next, I want you to cut that piece of paper in half with a line that runs from top to bottom. Make it nice and bold.”
On the left column, write down each of the different companies and corporations that have to do with cars. You want this list to exhaust your options. On the right side, list all of the different car-related occupations—anything and everything that will allow you, as an individual, to become involved in the car industry. Once you’ve done this, you will have the word “cars” surrounded by multiple opportunities and niches in which you can now participate.
The final step is to select one of those niches. It should be the one that you feel most passionately about. “By doing this, you will have narrowed your goal down to the most awesome aspect of the passion that underlies it. This is a method of finding happiness… since you’re now looking to get paid for something you would ultimately do for free.”
Let’s say you choose “auto performance,” with a desire to own and operate a performance shop. That’s a great goal! Now it’s time to cast your net and start making some moves.
Begin by investigating this niche. Go within your area and find all the companies related to automotive performance. Draw up a complete list that tracks the names, logo and logo colours, advertisement/marketing methods, and then spend two-to-three months investigating everything these companies do. This information is essential, as it will create a frame of reference for defining your business model.
Exploit and Capitalize
If history has taught us anything, it’s that building an empire requires courage, cunning, and no small amount of craftiness.
“The art of business mirrors the art of war,” quotes the globally renowned strategist. “All warfare is based on deception.”
His advice? Draw your competitors out of their profit zones and force them to break their business models.
Let’s say you have selected “auto performance” as your chosen profession. Go to the most successful auto performance dealership in your area and find out who supplies them.
“Unfortunately, no company will readily give out their secrets,” says Mokhtarian. “Tell the owner that you’ve just moved into the area and are heavily involved in the auto industry as a consumer. Let him know that you want to do business with him or her exclusively, but first you’d like to quality check the company’s products.”
By implanting the idea of a massive sale in the owner’s mind, he or she will undoubtedly provide you with their supplier—which, you guessed it, just became your supplier!
Once you have this information, check the supplier’s wholesale costs. Compare these with retail markups, and if your bottom line can sustain it, knock 20% off that price.
In so doing, you will force your competitor out of their profit zone. They will begin losing traction as they scramble to retain their customer-base, ultimately breaking their business models. Although the competition may accuse you of destroying the local market with tawdry tactics, it will be hard to sympathize with them from your position as the category leader.
Disguise Your Success
“As your company inevitably gains momentum,” says Reza Mokhtarian, “never boast of it. Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
Just like you, your competition is looking to exploit and capitalize on your weaknesses. Knowing this will allow you to anticipate their movements and parry their attacks. “A rival company will always move in when they think you’re weak—it’s the nature of the beast,” says Reza Mokhtarian.
“The reverse is also true…By disguising your success, you flip the script on your opponent, staying one step ahead of the competition at all times.” This mindset is the key to your success as an entrepreneur.
Reza Mokhtarian is the founder and CEO of Sky Venture Group—a Toronto-based investment management and private equity firm. Outside of his professional role, the business magnate spends his time by empowering young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams, dominate the markets, and achieve massive results.