It’s about building something that will add value to people. And you can change people’s lives and transform people’s lives; it’s not so much what you do, it’s the person you need to be in order for you to become successful. – Vincent Wong
Vincent Wong is counted among the UK’s most respected property entrepreneurs; being in business for now over 20 years, his message is that you can structure property deals that grow your property business while helping sellers at the same time to create win-win solutions for everyone.
Son to hard-working, Chinese parents who own a restaurant in Liverpool, Vincent was taught from a young age onwards that he is responsible for his own future. After finishing his MBA at Cass Business School in 1997, he started his property business by helping countless property owners and investors structure win-win deals. He is the creator of innovative financing strategies not only in the whole of the United Kingdom, but also abroad in Malaysia and the Netherlands. In these countries, he is called the father of lease options for structuring property deals without the need for traditional mortgage financing and deposits.
With his partner John Lee, he founded the Company Wealth Dragons in 2009 with the goal to make self-education available to everyone. Wealth Dragons PLC made history just earlier this year by becoming the first British company in the industry to be listed on a stock exchange. At the moment, Vincent is working on a technology platform that aims to transform the property market once more. As an internationally recognized public speaker and author of Property Entrepreneur and co-author of The Wealth Dragon Way, Vincent Wong is not only a property expert, but a man who has found his passion in being an entrepreneur and helping others to reach their fullest potential.
What inspired you to (co-)write your books The Wealth Dragon Way and Property Entrepreneur?
Let’s start with The Wealth Dragon Way. It’s a book co-written with my business partner John Lee with whom we share a similar background, being British-born Chinese, growing up not happy to follow the paths our parents expected us to follow but to make something of ourselves to become business entrepreneurs. Throughout the last 10 years in business, we have experienced many trials and tribulations and came up with a set of principles that we believe anyone can follow to maximize their chances of success and overcome many obstacles in business. In the book, we have defined that wealth is not just measure by money but also considers health, relationships and spirituality. Property Entrepreneur is a book that discusses the many strategies that I have developed during my last 20 years as a property investor. The message is that to become successful in property, you simply can’t speculate by throwing money at any property and expect to make money, but to approach it as a business in which problem-solving is the key.
At what point in your life did you decide to believe in “being the best version of yourself”? Has there been a certain event that started this belief?
When I tell people that “I fear nothing”, that’s not always true! One thing that scares me the most is that when on my death bed, I have regrets of what I could have been, rather than things I might have done.
That’s a harrowing thought and I guess it drives me to constantly seek improvement in myself every single day. The defining moment came when John and I almost died in a car crash 8 years ago when he crashed his Lamborghini on a dual carriageway at high speed while I was in his passenger seat. I remember when the police towed the wreckage away, John and I looked at each other in the eyes without being able to utter a single word, as if we both knew that we should have been in a body bag! From that moment on, we decided to not take life for granted as we had one chance at it.
Did you have to face severe difficulties while starting your business in 1997?
Absolutely, and plenty of them! All down to my inexperience but I believe that mistakes and problems are part of the journey of every entrepreneur. I have learnt so much since I started my first business but it’s the uncertainty and the ups and downs throughout the journey that make you feel alive. I love it!
What was/is your main aim you want to achieve with your business?
When I first started, my main goal was simply that I didn’t have to go back to work for someone else while not going belly-up! 80% of all startups fail within the first 18 months and up to 90% of them fail in the following 5 years! 20 years on, my company is now a public company with hundreds of investors on board, so my current goal is to maximise the value of our shareholders who have been supporting and believing in me, whilst building a business that creates a legacy in our industry.
Business is like a work of art, there is no science to it, there’s no right and there’s no wrong answers, you have to build it, you have to work with it and if you fail, many many times, you have to keep getting better, you have to find solutions.
What would you say is the most imprinting experience you made while building your own business?
I can’t really put it down to one thing, but let’s say I am grateful that while we “sailed close to the wind” a number of times, we are still here and running a thriving business.
How did you and your business partner John Lee come up with the idea of “Wealth Dragons”?
It always makes me chuckle when I remember the first time I came across John. I was on a property forum proposing how it was possible to make money in property without using mortgage finance and deposits. While everyone was slating me for talking nonsense, John stepped in to defend me and I was like “who on earth is this Chinese guy?” One day, John called me up out of the blue wanting to do business with me in property.
I was already an established deal-source in the business and John claimed that he could massively increase my business through his superb negotiation skills… That turned out to be true!
Why is the vision of you both to make self-education available to all?
John has always been a big fan of self-development. For me, over the past 20 years, I had always been doing things the long way, making mistakes and not having any opportunities to attend training workshops like what we see today. As I began working with John, I have fully experienced the importance of self-education. Most people don’t believe that they have a choice outside of their 9 to 5 but the reality is that we all do. On a grander scheme of things, we believe a lot of the violence and poverty we see in the world are down to a lack of education. You can’t solve problems with guns but with education you can, so it has become our mission to make self-education available to all.
How did it feel when Wealth Dragons made history by becoming the first UK company in the industry to be listed on a stock exchange?
It’s utterly amazing because it had taken me and John four years of relentlessly working on this process and it had totally taken our business to the next level. Did I expect it to succeed? Yes because for us, failure was not an option and we had vowed to do whatever it took to get there, which happened to be one of the Wealth Dragons’ principles. We firmly believed that as long as we didn’t give up, success was inevitable.
How is your latest project, the technology platform for selling and buying properties, going so far? Would you say it’s easier now to develop something new with all the experience you were able to make before?
Building any technology platform is always a challenge because technology is always evolving at a super-fast pace. What we had spent a few years building is now superseded by newer technology and business models and now it’s all about disrupting the market. Look at Uber and AirBnB! We now have a much clearer vision and direction to take this project to the next level.
You said that you are passionate about sharing your knowledge you’ve gained from your business career over the last 20 years. For what people would you say is this the most helpful?
Anyone. I believe we all have our unique knowledge and experiences and we learn from each other all the time whether it’s in life or in business. I love learning from others and sharing what I know with people.