How a Success Mindset has Helped Grant Gavin Build a Billion-Rand Business

True success starts within. Are you willing and able to discover and pursue your passions, focus on self-development and always add more to the people and situations around you?
How a Success Mindset has Helped Grant Gavin Build a Billion-Rand Business
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Entrepreneur Staff
Editor-in-Chief: Entrepreneur.com South Africa
7 min read

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Grant Gavin falls into that small but exceptionally lucky category of people who have found their passion in life. Not only has he found his passion, but he’s using it to build his business, one of only three RE/MAX offices to do over R1 billion in revenue per annum, support fellow entrepreneurs, and inspire individuals across the business world, from business owners to corporate employees. 

Here are his five lessons for tapping into your passion to achieve emotional and financial success.

1. Understand your role

This is a crucial lesson for your business and personal life. If you’re focusing on areas that feed into your passion, and define your role by what you uniquely bring to the table, success will follow.

“I worked at the RE/MAX head office for two years before my father, who owned a RE/MAX franchise, offered to sell me 50% of his business. I was 27 and I jumped at the opportunity. I was already becoming frustrated with my life as an employee. I couldn’t see significant progress in my future, and I wanted to determine my own destiny.”

At the time, Grant believed business ownership was his primary goal, but it wasn’t until he realised that developing people was his real passion that the business took off.

“This has been the key to our success, and it’s my primary role within the business. I don’t sell properties — I’m involved in people development. Focusing on people is our hallmark. They run their businesses within our business. It’s a system that attracts entrepreneurial people, and we then help them to develop that entrepreneurial mindset through internal coaching.”

As a leader and business owner, Grant has had a coach throughout his career. “I’ve seen this as an investment in myself, but once I started applying the lessons I was learning to my agents, a new passion became apparent. My love for developing others took off, and shaped my role.”

As a result, the RE/MAX franchise that Grant bought into went from R350 million in property sales to R1,2 billion in 2014, a figure that has been maintained every year since then.

2. Success is an internal job

Once Grant started coaching his agents, and then later other entrepreneurs, he had a valuable insight into what separates the highly successful from their more mediocre counterparts. 

“You cannot make a millionaire,” he says. “Determination needs to be internal. We all have internal drivers and motivations, and the individuals who can tap into these are the most successful, in business and in life.

“The good news is that you can change habits and thinking behaviour. We’ve found that if we can help people change their own mindsets, they will drive the change. Coaching can focus on personal and business improvements, benefitting both areas.”

Grant is also a big believer in self-development. “Many industry experts struggle to run businesses,” he explains. “For example, dentists are taught how to be great dentists, not how to run a business. They need to develop as entrepreneurs and leaders. This is true of all of us. Personal development is crucial. Thanks to books, podcasts, magazines, associations, coaching and so much more being available today,  there are many ways to do this. Growth is a choice; make it a priority.”

3. Be open to new ideas from unexpected places

As Grant developed his passion for developing, he started speaking at other events outside of RE/MAX, first within the property industry, and then beyond. This in turn led to coaching, as people would approach him after a talk asking for additional help and guidance.

“I realised that there’s such a need for help and guidance, but there weren’t a lot of networking and entrepreneurial events in Durban. What did exist was small and limited, focusing on specific groups and industries. Often the greatest benefits come from looking beyond your specific industry or demographic, and learning from each other’s experiences and diverse markets.”

In response to a clear need, Grant launched The Durban Entrepreneur’s Club in 2015. Like any start-up, the club needed to gain traction. 100 Members signed up over the course of the first nine months, increasing to 225 paid up annual members in the second year. Since then growth has been steady. 

“We’ve had some incredible speakers, and there’s been a real attraction to see them and hear their stories. What’s been particularly clear though is that there is so much value to networking consistently with the same group of people. Not only are our members learning from each other, and sharing their lessons, challenges and solutions they’ve implemented, but they’re also starting to trust each other and do business together.

“There’s so much value in stepping out of your comfort zone, opening your mind, and learning from others. I’ve found that the more people share, the more they trust each other as well, and the more they want to do business together. You just have to be open to new ideas and opportunities.”

4. Everyone has a story

Once Grant started becoming a regular feature on the speaking circuit, he started questioning his story.

“Motivational speakers tend to be celebrities, or extreme adventurers who have climbed Everest, or traversed the arctic. They’re sports stars. They have stories. I’m just Grant from RE/MAX. I’ve learnt now that everyone has a story, but at the time I felt I needed a real experience to learn and draw from.” To find his story, Grant chose to spend a full day begging for money at a traffic light.

“One of my keynote presentations today is called Lessons From a Traffic Light. I’ve never had to beg for money, so that’s what I chose to do. It was incredibly uncomfortable, but I did learn a lot, about myself and people in general. It took me a few months, but I was able to take those lessons and apply them to life and business in a meaningful way as well.”

One of the key lessons is that everyone — from an extreme adventurer to a car guard — has a story. The question is how you are sharing your story, and if you are authentically using it to build your brand and make connections.

5. In life and business, add massive value

“Standing on the street that day, holding my sign, and watching all the luxury cars driving past, I started to feel resentful. I became angry at how little people cared about me and my situation. I expected that I would receive money because people would take pity on me. Support me. But life doesn’t give you what you expect. Life gives you who you are. And I wasn’t adding any value to anybody that day. If anything, I was being a burden on society, and making other people uncomfortable. 

It was then that I noticed the car guards receiving money. They were giving value. Stopping traffic for cars to reverse onto the road, waving at drivers to alert them to parking spots, carrying shopping bags, deterring crime. But more importantly, they were giving value first, without any guarantee of receiving any money at all from their clients.

“How are you going to market? What value are you sharing? What value are you giving others before they become customers? First be additive. That’s one of the real secrets to success.” 

Do this

In order to tap into that which drives you internally, focus on your passion. If you don’t know what that is, make the choice to grow. Invest in your personal development.

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