Saturday, March 08, 2008

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Singapore boasts of some 66,660 millionaires, more than enough to fill the old National stadium.

‘Millionaire’, a status so coveted by Singaporeans in this era! To be one, Singaporeans can consider some of these three options:

a) perform exceedingly well in school and co-curricular activities and land a prestigious President’s scholarship, or PSC scholarships and stick to civil service and be automatically promoted ranks after ranks towards the higher helms of civil service
b) consider a career in investment banking
c) be an entrepreneur

Of these three options, the most common route towards achieving that first million is to be an entrepreneur, though that path is laid with risks after risks.

In this modern era, setting up your own business may require little capital as ideas are the most important capitals in this knowledge economy.

Since some years ago, advertisements proclaiming to assist Singaporeans to achieve that first $1,000,000 are aplenty in the dailies. Often the taglines of such advertisements are that little time and/ or capital is needed to start a business or to engage in their programmes which will guarantee manifold increments in one’s salary.

Just two days ago, I responded to one of the dozens of daily advertisements featuring free seminars in which real-life self-made multi-millionaires shared with ordinary folks the pathway to financial independency.

I have attended such seminars before and at the end of the day, the presenters would urge the participants to sign up for a fee some programmes, to be taught the proper and tested route to earning the first million. This seminar was no exception but what surprised me was that the multi-millionaire CEO who was also the presenter agreed to waive the full fees for such training programme!

The seminar focused on the golden opportunities that could be harvested from the booming education industry both locally and regionally. The presenter who was a multi-millionaire and had several businesses locally, is currently in the education business, opening local schools recognised by the Ministry of Education which offers programmes from degrees to doctorates from well-recognised foreign universities (mainly Australian) and is rapidly expanding his businesses overseas. The board of the education business company counts business leaders the likes of Douglas Foo, Adam Khoo, etc. Basically, the company looks strong and steady.

To cut the story short, the passionate CEO urged the participants to take the first step out from the drudgery of ordinary work towards financial independency. Here is the company’s proposal.

Sign up for a fee of close to $9000 for a year of training (consisting of 26 weeks scattered throughout a year). The training would be conducted on weekends (full days) and on weekend nights, mentoring sessions are conducted.

During the training course, participants would be taught the basic skills of sales, business, marketing, proper representation of the company. The students would also sit and pass tests, examinations and attend practical sessions both locally and overseas,

After clearing the training courses and examinations, the participants would become ‘associates’ of the company and would be on the route to achieving higher incomes. Here is how:

As an associate of the company, with the training attained, the associate would help the company to recruit students overseas or locally for the vast arrays of programmes, namely bachelors, masters, doctorates and specialised programmes run by the company.

The associate would then earn a 10% commission of the value of the programme that the student he recruited enrols in. For example, if the associate recruits one student per week who signs up for a three-year bachelor programme costing $24,000, the associate would earn $2,400 per week or $9,600 per month. And if the associate were to recruit a doctorate candidate, higher commissions would obviously be given.

When a certain quota is met, the associate would be promoted to the next level, managing associates and would be sent overseas to handle overseas colleges and earning commissions from the associates’ recruitment of students as well as management of the colleges, thus multiplying his income to a higher and higher level.

Currently, the company is looking only for an optimal number of 20 more associates. The passionate CEO in a bid to help the masses of ordinary folks agreed to return the full fees for the training course to the participants provided they achieved 90% training attendance and recruit at least one student upon completion of their training. In addition, the company would hand out a free scholarship every three years to the family members of the participants or to the participants themselves for programmes run by the school.

After reading the above paragraphs, don’t you think the offers are too good to be true and to be refused? Ironically, after the presentation, despites the excellent sales patter of the presenter, many of the audience left, leaving only a few who seemed interested to sign up for the training programme.

There are only two reasons for such behaviours a) Singaporeans are not ready to take the first step towards financial independency and risk losing what they have b) they have no trust in the programme.

For those who leave the programme, they shall not treat attendances for such seminar as ‘time-wasters’. Conversely, I found it to be a good avenue to learn more on the diverse and often novel trends and ideas of getting rich from the mouth of millionaires themselves, rather than spending time in front of the black box at home.

Yes, I do get excited by these programmes, it inspires me but nevertheless there are still doubts in my mind on such programmes. Or am I as what the millionaire claimed, afraid to take the road less travelled, the first 'baby' step towards financial stability and be contented to be an employee all my life and with the few thousands of dollars earned every month?

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