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How Albert van Wyk Made His First Million By Age 22 Becoming financially free starts with a millionaire mindset. Albert van Wyk decided in his early teens that he wanted more from life. He started with something as simple as mowing lawns. By 22 he'd paid off his first property.

By Nadine von Moltke-Todd

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Mike Turner

PLAYER: Albert van Wyk

CLAIM TO FAME: Self-made millionaire by age 22, author of How To Become a Millionaire at 22.

COMPANY: Gazzaroo (online media agency) and a part-time business consultant

EST: 2015


Having a purpose and a vision are powerful tools. They give you direction, help you stay focused when things get tough, and keep you heading in the right direction, particularly when results are slow. They're also the foundation of a millionaire mindset.

Albert van Wyk shares the journey that's helped him develop his millionaire mindset, and the tools that will help you get there too.

"Aha' Moments

"Aha' moments don't always happen in a blinding instant. Sometimes they're the culmination of experiences.

I grew up in a lower-middle class household. My dad was a road technician who was determined to give us a university education — something he had never had — and he worked hard, long hours, including night shifts, to make it happen.

Growing up my dad always looked stressed, over-worked and tired. I didn't want to work that hard and still struggle.

When I was a kid, there was a bicycle I desperately wanted. My parents couldn't afford to buy it for me. The next month, when the coolest kid in class arrived with that bicycle, it drove me to start thinking about what I could do to ensure a different future; one where I wasn't limited by finances. I was already considering what it meant to be financially free.

Everywhere I went, this point was being driven home. Everyone around me at school spoke about the cool jobs and cars they wanted one day, and what their families would look like.

All of those things were fine, but it was becoming very clear to me that I wanted more. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to do big things. And the reality is that bigger dreams need bigger funding.

Finding A Purpose

I didn't have a plan yet, but I had a purpose, and I quickly realised that dreams don't come true by themselves. You need a goal, and you have to work towards it. I wasn't going to delay working towards mine just because I was still at school. I was capable of earning money, and that's what I did. I set goals for myself, and worked to achieve them.

I wasn't scared of working hard — I'd been brought up in a household that respected hard work — but I did need patience. I also knew that every little bit made a difference. In Grade 8 I mowed lawns, washed cars and even convinced my mom to pay me per room I cleaned in our house.

My goal was to buy a guitar by the end of the year, and I achieved it earlier than planned. I then taught myself to play the guitar (I'd already learnt drums at our church), and opened a guitar school, teaching other kids to play.

I bought and sold second hand PlayStations, and saved everything I made. By the time I was in Grade 11, I had a few things on the side, and then my grandfather started complaining about the fact that his 1950s Studebaker Powerhawk was never driven — which is death for a car.

I didn't have my driver's licence, but I had an idea. I convinced my dad to be our driver, and started renting it out for matric dances. I saved up and bought a Volvo 122S a few months later for R8 000, and my dad helped me fix it up. This got added to our business.

I knew that the secret to building wealth was to get started. I needed to be trading, learning about finances, and above all, saving. It's easy to spend money. It's much harder to put it away.

Focusing On The Future

As I got older, I became more focused. What did I want to accomplish, how was I going to get there, and what finances did I need?

I knew I was going to varsity. That had always been the plan. No one om my father's side of the family had been before my generation, and my brother and I both knew this was a non-negotiable. I completely understand the worth of a university degree but I also wanted to work towards my goal of financial freedom, so I made a deal with my dad.

If I secured a merit bursary, could I use my college fund as a deposit on a property? He agreed. I needed to work harder than ever to achieve the marks I needed. I studied straight through the school holidays. Plus, although all my aptitude tests said I shouldn't go into engineering (anything but engineering), that's what I was determined to do.

My great grandfather dug roads, my grandfather drove earthmoving equipment, my dad was a road technician — I saw a family legacy of growth, and I needed to become an industrial engineer to see it through.

I got the bursary, and I graduated, but I had to work extremely hard to do it. Nothing came easily. I even had to find my own rules to follow because the theory didn't always make sense to me. I could see how natural it was for many of my peers. For me, it was hard work.

But it was the right decision. I'd chosen industrial engineering because it was all about optimising and making a business more profitable and effective. The engineering elements weren't always easy for me, but the business side made complete sense.

Today, I can go into a business and see what's ineffective in their processes. I learnt so many terms I can apply; it's been invaluable to me as a business consultant.

Small Steps, Big Rewards

Through different side businesses, driving the Volvo 122, and staying at home to save money, I paid off my first property by the time I was 22. It was my first paid-off asset, worth just over R1 million.

I could have moved into my new house, but it was an asset that could now earn me passive income, which I could use to purchase a second property, so I stayed at home and that's what I did.

I also started consulting, and started an online media company, Gazzaroo, with a friend from varisty. He had the idea, but wanted me to help him execute it. We focused on web design, social media and branding. I had taught myself PhotoShop in school to market the other businesses.

We launched in 2015 with R1 500, and two years later we have seven employees and a decent turnover that is steadily growing. My friend wanted to return to engineering, so I bought most of his shares and now spearhead the company.

It's an important and often over-looked element of wealth building — you need more than one stream of income. You need to put focus and attention into everything you do, but if you can generate multiple streams of income, you're already building a stronger base.

6 Ways To Build A Millionaire Mindset

Small starts have big results. By the time I was in varisty I was studying, had a business and my first property. I'd chat to my peers and their eyes would widen. They'd always say they wished they'd started early as well, or that they'd known it was possible when they were youngsters. It's always possible, and it's never too late to start. You just need a goal, and you need to take the first steps — and stick with them. It's not an overnight thing. It's slow and steady.

Success is the result of discipline, perseverance and passion. You need all three. You can't have discipline and no passion. When the going gets tough, you either drop out or stick it through, and often the difference between the person who gives up and the one who doesn't is passion — how much do you love what you do, or care about the goal you're striving to achieve?

If you have the passion, you then need to develop a mindset that is disciplined and will persevere. Most results aren't quick — you have to keep at it. That's the secret.

Don't start with goals — start with yourself. Before you've even formulated goals, you need to take a good, long look at yourself. You need to take responsibility for yourself. There's always a legitimate reason to let yourself off the hook if you look for it. Don't. Drop the hook. Take full responsibility for the success of your goals.

Stop saying you can't afford to do something because of the economy, your salary or the poor exchange rate. There's always a reason not to do something, but if you really want it, you'll find a way. We can achieve anything we set our mind to, provided we're willing to be disciplined and persevere to achieve our goals. Change your way of thinking and speaking. Don't say "I can't because…..'.

Instead say, "How can I affect this?' Once you take responsibility for something, and reframe the way you look at things, it kicks your brain into action and you will find a solution. Be proactive instead of a victim of circumstances.

Once you've got your mindset right, set your goals. This is where your plan comes in. People always want to reach for the stars. That's great, you must have dreams and goals, but don't choose a crazy dream you can't execute without breaking it down into small, manageable bits.

You need something that you can achieve today, this week, this month — otherwise you will keep postponing it. You end up letting yourself off the hook — "I can't achieve it today anyway, so I may as well start tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow…'

Start with small goals to reach your bigger goals. For me, I want to be an international public speaker. That's not going to happen tomorrow. So, what can I do now? I need to start with becoming a national public speaker. Even that's not going to happen right now, it's still too big.

Okay, I need to be knowledgeable about the topic — that I can do today. I can read a blog, watch a YouTube video, secure a gig — my big goal is suddenly broken down into small, achievable, daily goals, and there's no reason to postpone because I can do something today.

Create a sense of urgency, put the pressure on and take responsibility. That's how you'll get there. Put in the hours, and then celebrate the small wins and stick with it.

You need the mental tools to persevere so that you don't get derailed. This is so important. Make your goals your phone and PC wallpaper. Stimulate yourself with positive inputs — find motivational posts that are specific to you, and surround yourself with people that can support you and invest in them — when you need them, they will be there.

I have an amazing support system, but it goes both ways. They can support you and uplift you, and you need to do the same for them. You also need to give yourself reality checks. Pay attention so that you can recognise bad vibes creeping up on you. It happens to everyone, so develop the tools to recognise them and check yourself.

Empower the people close to you to be able to tell you when you're being negative. We have a saying at Gazzaroo: When things are bad, they will go better; when things are good, that's great, but they might go wrong. Stay grounded so that you can handle the curveballs, but stay positive.

Nadine von Moltke-Todd

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor-in-Chief: South Africa

Nadine von Moltke-Todd is the Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Media South Africa. She has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, senior executives, investors and subject matter experts over the course of a decade. She was the managing editor of the award-winning Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa from June 2010 until January 2019, its final print issue. Nadine’s expertise lies in curating insightful and unique business content and distilling it into actionable insights that business readers can implement in their own organisations.

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