Robin Booth is a successful entrepreneur having multiple businesses not only in South Africa, but also globally as well. We wanted to find out a little more about Robin and how he was able to to achieve so much success. Also wanted to discuss what it’s like to do business in South Africa, and get some insights on how the business works in this region of the world.
(The Powerful) How Long have you been an entrepreneur?
(Robin Booth) As a young man, I used to keep finding myself in many entrepreneurial roles … and reluctantly so. For example, when I qualified as a school teacher, I realised that for me to be able to teach in the style I wanted to, I would actually have to open my own school so I didn’t have the boss looking over my shoulder. So I opened a school but all I really wanted to do was to teach, and not run the business of schooling.
My entrepreneurial life really started the day I ‘chose’ to be 100% responsible and accountable for getting where I wanted to go. A quote that keeps reminding me of this is “If not YOU, then WHO?” That was over 10 years ago.
(TP) What made you want to leave the “corporate” world and become an entrepreneur?
(RB) The moment I chose to be responsible for any and all of the results I want in my life, the ‘traditional’ could no longer work for me: Traditional teaching, traditional schooling, traditional parenting styles, traditional work hours, traditional holiday times, traditional jobs; all of these things became just starting points for me to then adapt and recreate as I wanted.
(TP) What businesses do you own now?
(RB) I have numerous businesses and partnerships here in South Africa and around the world. I have numerous online parenting courses and teacher programmes reaching over 12,000 students in over 150 countries.
My one international company helps foreigners from around the world buy real estate property in the USA, without them having to use their own money or their own time.
In South Africa, I have residential investing and letting business, as well as commercial land, use investing.
I have numerous Airbnb properties for cash flow which we are currently scaling up and expanding.
We just created a student housing project which has been incredibly successful and is showing returns I have not seen elsewhere so we plan to roll out more of those.
I’ve partnered with a development company to do a development of land we have, which will either be a residential village or a shopping centre.
And although most of the businesses I’ve mentioned are now on autopilot or managed by other team members, I choose to spend most of my time on coaching select entrepreneurs from around the world. In finding then strategizing their quickest and most successful path to wealth and success.
I am also the founding director of the non-profit education organisation, Synergy Schooling, which provides teaching resources to teachers around the world.
(TP) Best thing about running a business based in South Africa?
(RB) South Africa is in a fairly unique situation in that it gives you the belief of being in a first world country, yet the reality that anything can actually happen here.
In business this means that you can create fairly accurate strategy plans, but you always have to factor in a backup plan in which everything could change in a moment, and you may have to start all over again.
Successful South African business people plan well when things don’t go according to plan (like electricity no longer works, water runs out or labour goes on strike), they are very quick to change strategies and get back on track.
(TP) Most challenging thing about running a business in South Africa?
(RB) There seems to be an underlying attitude of entitlement in South Africa which translates into poor service delivery. For example I live in Cape Town, one of the world’s top tourist destinations… so you would think this city has built up a business network to service this industry. Our biggest challenge in setting up our Airbnb and short term rental business was finding a cleaning service that would work on a Sunday. Their response: “We don’t work on Sundays, so we suggest you don’t accept any new clients until Monday because that’s when we will be back to work.”
At the same time, this means opportunity. Any budding entrepreneurs out there… here is a great business to start!
(TP) How do you overcome challenges?
(RB) There is only one reason, and one reason only why we are faced with any challenge: and that is because we don’t have the solution for resolving it…. yet! So I can either complain about the challenge or spend my time and energy on creating the solution.
Whether you believe your challenge can be resolved, or whether you believe it can’t be resolved, either way you’re right. I have worked with thousands of people to see that the only difference between those that solve the problem and those that don’t, is in whether they believe there is a solution or not.
Someone who believes there is a solution will keep looking for it. And the person who believes there is no solution will stop looking early on and give up.
Now some people would argue that there are some situations where there is no solution.. so what then?
But here’s the thing. Those people who believe the solution is out there will keep looking for it and as they do, they will meet new people and explore many new ideas. Out of this, they often come up with many other incredible ideas that may help solve a bigger problem they are dealing with, and so actually get them where they want to go quicker.
In my businesses when I am faced with a challenge, I get as much information as I can on what created that challenge, and then put things in place so that those challenges won’t come up again.
So with each ‘failure’, I actually become exponentially more successful.
(TP) How did you know you would be successful?
(RB) I think in my case it’s knowing I will never give up. And that means that I will always keep looking for creative solutions to any problem and challenge I have. And with that strategy, it is inevitable that I will find a solution that will work. I will never bet on my strategy as I can always change that, but I’ll always bet on myself.
(TP) Did you ever second guess yourself?
(RB) I would often second guess the strategy I was working on, but I have never second guessed my ability to deliver what was needed. But what I have noticed is that there are many successful people out there who have very little going for them, except their ability to stay focused and their determination to be in action.
I learned a hard lesson because I used to think that since I was smart and a quick learner, I would be successful.
But success is the result of focus and action. When I applied this as my new strategy, my success increased.
(TP) What keeps you motivated?
(RB) When we are in our flow, we are naturally and internally motivated. If you find yourself dragging your feet or doing things reluctantly, its because you are out of your flow. So for me the question is always about “How do I get back into my flow” because then I don’t need motivation to drive my actions.
My ‘flow’ and natural path to wealth and success is all about creative problem solving, coming up with systems that automate things, and seeing how to replicate things such that anyone can do them and yet still get successful results.
And because I know this is my wealth profile, I also have the awareness and understanding of how to get back to doing things that naturally motivate and fulfil me, all while creating my wealth and success.
(TP) Advice for other South Africans who want to start a business?
(RB) Traditional entrepreneurship seems to be a ‘hit or miss’ journey.
Traditional entrepreneurship seems a lot about risks and passion.
Traditional entrepreneurship seems to be about go big or go home.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It starts with a decision for you being willing to take 100% responsible for all your results, success and failures.
And then it takes just one small step.
And then another.
Nowadays, there are a lot of resources out there that can guide you to find out what your natural strategy is to creating success and wealth. The moment I understood my path, things changed. It’s not a one size fits all. The more you know about your own path, the quicker and less riskier it will be for you to be a successful entrepreneur.
Attend the JT Foxx events, take notes even if it doesn’t make sense yet.
Network with the people at his events. It’s easier to be an entrepreneur with a partnership than going all alone.
Become one of the #familyfirst. This has been my biggest support in taking my business to the next levels.
Keep investing in your own skills. Educate yourself.
Get a coach who will push you to look beyond what you see or believe is possible right now. Whenever I am with JT Foxx, he always opens up a new vision of what is possible for me. Its then up to me to step into it.
(TP) Advice for people from outside SA who want to do business in SA?
(RB) I’m a big fan of partnerships. I could never do business around the world if I didn’t have partners. And finding those partners has come out of meeting them at business events, then building a relationship with them, and then only then asking, “How about we do business together”.
I prefer to get the right people on the bus, and then decide where we want to go.
My greatest source of finding great partnerships from around the world has been through JT Foxx’s events. I used to weigh up how much it cost to go to his events around the world. Now I see how much it costs me in opportunities if I don’t go.
And when you are presented with challenges, remember that the solution is out there, and each failure or setback is actually creating your next success.