Monday, May 30, 2011

Robert Herjavec – Rags to riches


It comes down to basic skills our moms and dads taught us. Show up early, work hard, be disciplined – Robert Herjavec

That’s how Robert Herjavec overcame the odds and became a multi-millionaire. His current wealth is a far cry from his youth. As the son of Croatian immigrants, he grew up poor. But his family’s lack of money was the driving force behind Herjavec’s desire to become an entrepreneur and control his own destiny. “It was about getting away from where my family was. I imagined how much better it would be if we had money.”

Hard work and good instincts paid off for Herjavec in the early 1990s. As the dot-com craze emerged, Herjavec had a feeling technology would be the road to success. After waiting tables at an upscale restaurant by day, he spent much of his evenings working on his technology idea. Thus, his first technology company, BRAK Systems, was born and quickly became the leading provider of Internet security software in Canada.

By 2000, BRAK Systems was worth over $100 million when Herjavec sold it to AT&T. He could have lived a life of leisure after the sale, but instead became vice president of Ramp Networks, where he was instrumental in its $225 million sale to Nokia.

The self-made millionaire is not resting on his laurels. Since 2003, he serves as cofounder and CEO of Toronto-based The Herjavec Group, the largest privately owned IT network security and infrastructure integration company in Canada. He works hard and plays hard, hobnobbing with the rich and famous and enjoying his collection of luxury cars.

So why didn’t Herjavec take the easy road and retire early with his millions? His response reflects the strong values of his upbringing. “If you keep doing stuff purely for the money, one day you’ll hit the end of the road.”

As he focuses on the expansion of his company, Herjavec is a firm believer that sales and professionalism are two key components to acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. “Unless 90% of your sales are recurring, service-contract revenue, everything you do has to be driven by sales, from answering the phone, to having professional salespeople, to forecasting, to training.”

As one of the venture capitalist on the popular Canadian television series Dragon’s Den, Herjavec offers encouraging words to contestants seeking to put their business idea into motion.

“Some people need good advice more than they need money. If you keep doing stuff you love to do, the money will follow.”




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