Business Savvy

The President of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation of Malaysia Simon Lim, who is also CEO of Maclean, shares his enterprising journey with AUDREY WONG.

Sip champagne at breakfast at Mount Everest base camp. Participate in a friendly match against the star players of the Manchester United Football Club at Old Trafford Stadium in the UK. Bike across Peninsular Malaysia to discover local sights and flavours. For many,these are experiences they can only dream of but for Simon Lim, been there, done that.

As a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization(EO) Malaysia since 1999, the energetic 45-year old had his fair share of such one-of-a-kind adventures organised specially for its affiliates. Lim, who was recently elected the President of EO Malaysia for the 2013/2014 term, however asserts that it is not all play within the organisation. “EO is not a social club nor is it an elitist club. It’s a community where like minded people can get together to exchange ideas. As the present steward of the Malaysian chapter of EO, it’s a great honour and a wonderful experience to lead an organization comprising of the leaders of various fields.”

EO ‘s membership is exclusive to entrepreneurs and composed of a global network of more than 9500 business owners in 40 countries. It’s mission is to encourage members to learn and grow from one another through various initiatives such as global leadership conferences and forums as well as providing membership for budding entrepreneurs. As Lim puts it, “EO provides an awesome avenue for us to sharpen our minds after we have been in the game too long.”

He certainly has a thing or two to teach the younger generation. As the CEO of Maclean, a family business founded in 1979 specialising in property-based cleaning and maintenance services, Lim has weathered a fair share of challenges. He recalls, “The Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 affected us badly. I took over as CEO in 1999 in the face of so many uncertainties in fact, the company was close to going bankrupt.”

He credits his tenacity for pulling Maclean through the difficult times, “I learnt we must always be ready to deal with the unknown. It wasn’t the time to be creative or take risks We just had to keep doing what we know best. Fortunately, our efforts paid off and the company returned to its healthy state. To this day, I consider near the impossible feat of turning maclean around during the financial crisis to be my most significant achievement so far.”

If there is one important lesson that Lim has acquired along the way, it is always be grateful to the ones who have helped him during the the hard times. “I had a lot of support from vendors and friends.” The experience has taught me to be humble and be open-minded to new ideas and suggestions.”

Today, Maclean is a thriving ISO 9001-2008 certified company with a 1300 strong workforce focusing on 12 areas of services ranging from office cleaning, building maintenance and post-construction cleaning to disaster recovery and decontamination. “We may not be the largest company in our field but we pride ourselves as the number one in providing service excellence,” notes Lim.

One of Lim’s favourite things about running a business is the  opportunity to share experience with others. He explains, “What prompted me to join the family business was the knowledge that I have the ability to expand my influence to add value and make a better difference in others.”

Moving forward Lim hopes to expand Maclean regionally. We want to penetrate into markets where we can add value such as Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City. These are the places where cleaning services are in great demand.”

When asked about the qualities that make a successful entrepreneur, Lim replies “Business is also an art, not just science. Frankly this may sound cliched but it’s true that you have to believe strongly in yourself and what you do because no one will. Like any other skills, practice makes perfect; the same goes for business.”

When Lim is in need of inspiration, he turns to an unexpected source-nature. The self professed orchid lover admits,”Plants can teach us a lot of things. I have applied the things from nature to business. For instance, in winemaking the grapes are produced with the right climate and refined under the expertise of seasoned winemakers. Likewise a conducive environment and constant guidance from mentors are essential in nurturing leaders. After all, what happens in nature is already tried and tested ”

Simon Lim is the President of Entrepreneurs Organisation[EO] Malaysia, Founded in 1987, it is a dynamic global network of more than 9,500 business owners in 40 countries. It is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and enriched personal lives. Membership in one of EO’s 131 chapters is by invitation only. The average age of a member is 42 years old with an annual revenue of US$59.7mil. To learn more about EO, visit eonetwork.org.my or call +603-6253 5877. You may also follow EO on Twitter @EnterpreneurOrg.

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