Vinod Sekhar was millionaire at the age of 20, and a multi-millionaire by 24. He became a Datuk at 26 and was considered a huge success in life. However, by 32 he fell into financial difficulties and had to rebuild his empire.
At that time, he borrowed USD100 million, which was equivalent to about RM250 million to solve the financial woes. The timing was not perfect due to currency fluctuations.
His borowings quickly became close to RM500 million because of this, and eventually, it stabilized to RM380 million, which was still a handsome sum. The interest rate shot up from over 5 per cent to just over 13 percent too.
Vinod was relating this experience at a meeting with young entrepeneurs where he advised that every businessman had their own unique story to tell of hard times.
What is important, he told his audience, is that every successful businessman learns from his failures, pulls his socks up again, and works hard to regain all that he had lost. “One must never be dissolutioned, but always regain confidence,” he said. Related Story: Another Feather in the Cap for Datuk Vinod Sekhar
Vinod Sekhar said it is a priority for any businessman to ensure that his employees had stabil careers. Yet hard decisions had to be made during times of poor economic conditions.
“Employees may sometimes lose their jobs when business is bad. But they should be given adequate compensation to tide over the lean times until they get another job.
“This may not always be possible to do, but at least the labour laws of the country must be strictly followed. Then at least the employees will know that the company did the right thing. Reputations can be saved or ruined over things like these,” he said.
Vinod did try to keep all his employees, but he said he couldn’t and some had to go. “This is the down side of doing business, and I spent some 60 per cent of revenues through a foundation I had set up to help 12,000 children one way or another.
“I don’t really believe in saving more money than is needed in bank accounts as doing so cant help those who are really in need of help.
“However, using money wisely to improve the economic position of the poor and downtrodden in society will make their lives better. Recommended reading: Cinderella Man, Datuk Vinod Sekhar
“So why not put the money to good use or invest it in the poor who can then learn to earn a better living,” he asked his audience, urging them to consider social capitalism as an important part of their business ventures.