Lenney Leong, CEO & Founder of Get Customers grew up in a humble family where scrimping and saving was necessary to get by.
He started working at the age of 12, selling bottled water, dabbled in starting various different businesses, buying and selling Bitcoin, coding his own private Maple Story servers out of curiosity, and was always looking at making a decent income to support his parents.
On Money and Me, Michelle Martin finds out from Lenney about his journey with money and why he says he is a believer in starting a business to make your money work hard for you.
Michelle Martin: I understand you grew up in a family where you felt you needed to work at age 12. Why is that?
Lenney Leong: One of the biggest motivations was for my parents to retire. So, from a very young age, I set my goals to give them a good life when I grew up.
MM: What was your early experience with money?nullnull
LL: My early experience with money was that I only knew how to earn and save. I had no idea about investing until about a year and a half ago. That was when I became more active and serious in investing, and I started reading books and attending courses to learn more about it.
MM: You were only 18 or 19 years old and still in NS a year and a half ago when you were reading and teaching yourself about the stock market. What were your early experiences in the stock market?
LL: Before the stock market, I dabbled in property. I looked for mentors and tried to find ways to grow my earnings. For stocks, I speculated a lot and made mistakes along the way. So right now, I’m more towards long-term investing in the US market.
MM: Now that you’re a value investor, what horizon are you looking at? Which sectors and what interests you?
LL: 10 years. I’m not particularly focused on any sectors, but my dream is to have 1 million dollars stocks portfolio by 30 years old, and I think I will be able to achieve it in the next 7 to 8 years.
MM: Did you have to experience pain in the stock market or did you always have a long-term approach?
LL: I’ve had my own share of experience as well which is the reason why I’m into long-term investing now and that means that even if the market goes down, I’m not afraid of the outcome.
MM: Recently, there has been a lot of volatility in the stock market. Are you looking at it as an opportunity to buy?
LL: Yes, it is always a good opportunity to buy when the market goes down.
MM: If it was not stocks and options that were the big contributor to how you managed to amass $300,000 before your 23rd birthday, then what was the big income stream?
LL: The big income stream was from my business. It has a huge Return on Investment [ROI]. For instance, for every dollar I put in on online advertisements, I could potentially get back $3, that’s about 300 per cent ROI.
I used this as a way to generate income and put them back into [investing in] stocks and property and that helped me to grow my wealth further [to achieve $300,000].
MM: What have you learnt from the many attempts at starting a business and why did you decide on a social media business?
LL: I started my very first business when I was 17. Of course when starting a business, there are bound to be failures, even in my journey as well. So, from those learning experiences, I picked myself up and restarted another business on my own.
For those who want to start a business, it’s not going to be a smooth journey. But as long as you’re passionate, keep going and eventually you’ll find the right business that you love.
I started coding when I was 12, so the transition from coding to social media felt very comfortable for me.
It’s very technical and computer-based. I think what I’m doing is a perfect fit in this digital world we’re in right now. I can also express my thoughts and creativity to the world through social media.
MM: Many people have lost their income due to this pandemic and they’ve got a mountain of debt and wondering how they can pay it back, be it housing or car loans. What would be your advice?
LL: I think it is important to prioritise how to clear your debt and at the same time, it is also important to upgrade yourself in this challenging economy [especially] if you want to get a job or build your business, you have got to stand out from the rest. So, I think upgrading your skillset is the way to go.
I don’t think money alone will bring you happiness, but it is what you do with the money that will bring you happiness.
MM: Many people who have lost their jobs would love to start a business that has to do with social media or the internet? What are the overheads based on your experience?
LL: For a social media business, you can even start with zero capital. You can watch (free) YouTube videos and find tutorials online to learn about how to start a social media business.
There are platforms online where you can list the services you provide and do them on a freelance basis, and I think that anyone can do it as long as you’re willing to learn how to do it.
When I was 18, I made approximately $1,000 to $1,500 by providing videography services in video editing and whiteboard animation. I even got a contract to provide monthly video services.
This is one of the ways that can help you expand out to the international market if you cannot find opportunities locally.
MM: What would be your advice to Gen Zs about making the most of their money?
LL: Read a lot. Many people think that you should save a lot of money, but I think that there are two sides of the coin. You should upgrade your skill sets to learn while you save. It shouldn’t just be focused on saving.
[If you are planning or have a business], take my business as an example, make sure that you focus on your sales & marketing team because if you only focus on operations or products but there is no sales, there will be no revenue for your business. Remember to also pay yourself a salary while building your business.
Lastly, get the correct mentors who can guide you when it comes to your property and stocks investment journey so that you can leverage on their wisdom and many years of [investing] experience.
Maybe you can look for more than 1 mentor to get different perspectives before you make your own [investment] decisions.
MONEY FM 89.3 / ASIAONE