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Why the Secret to Entrepreneurial Success is Continuous Learning

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The journey of entrepreneurship is all about discovering oneself. This is perhaps one of the best ways to describe Aidil Azwal Zainudin’s twist of fate from would-be religious scholar to full-fledged entrepreneur and business owner. Aidil earned his master’s at one of the most prestigious Islamic universities in the world, the Universiti Al-Azhar in Cairo.

But somewhere along the way, one thing remained painfully clear to him. Aidil always knew that he was meant to give back to the community and to the Malaysian people, but through a different approach. There was simply no other future he was passionate about besides being the inventor of something new, unconventional, and daring. With the boldness only a few possess, Aidil started his own business and ventured down a path that would change his life forever.

From door-to-door hustle to 8-figure business

“The initial investment was only RM400, to be honest. At the time, I was the only one in the business too.” Aidil’s tenacity is evident as he speaks of Olive House, the company that he founded in 2011. What started with Aidil himself going door-to-door to sell his premium blend of olive oil soon became the business that he would be proud of for years to come.

Olive House is an organization founded on the belief that all individuals deserve a healthier, more sustainable way of life—and therefore aims to make healthy living affordable to all Malaysians. Olive House’s business model trains individuals to become salespeople in their own right. Aidil says he crafted it this way to stay true to his initial reason for becoming an entrepreneur: contributing to society.

9 years later, Olive House became a strong organization that would grow to be worth around RM50 million in 2020, thanks to Aidil’s innovative and revolutionary leadership skills. Where did he learn these skills? Aidil doesn’t shy away from explaining that in detail.

A leader intent on self-development

Anyone who’s spent a few minutes talking to Aidil understands one thing: he welcomes obstacles and failures with an extraordinary, refreshing perspective. “Truth be told, I wanted to grow more as a business owner. Plus, when I led an organization, it was scary to me that my employees would just be okay with doing as they’re told. Everything I told them they agreed with, said ‘yes’ and ‘no problem,’ but I wanted the business to have more different opinions and more people to challenge me.”

Upon that realization, Aidil understood that if he ever had any hopes of scaling his business and gaining a competitive edge in the market, he needed to be armed with more leadership skills than ever before. At the beginning, he enrolled in online seminars and tried reading leadership books. But those paths led to very insignificant outcomes. “I spent close to RM10,000 on seminars and programs.

But I needed more structure in my learning, as well as people I could interact with and exchange ideas with too.” Much like fate, Aidil found himself at an ASB event. The dominoes fell accordingly, and before he knew it, he enrolled in the MBA for Working Professionals program. “My first impression about the professors especially was just how humble they were. When it came to classes, they taught you that there was really no wrong or right answer to something.

All of my MIT and ASB professors trained me to have a better thought process. I learned that it wasn’t about how much knowledge one has, but rather how they apply it.” Aidil took everything that he learned from the MIT-infused syllabus and used it to scale Olive House to the success it is today. “I remember one of my professors told me this too. She said whatever marketing you do, it’s always quantifiable. There’s always an ROI. Even that lesson helped me lead my business so much.”

Carry on in humility and grace

“To those who are looking to get better in their career, just be humble.” Aidil is spot on. He told us that his success can be attributed to the fact that he never took temporary success or a “job well done” as something to be comfortable with. For him, constant learning and growth are not just “beneficial” when you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or industry leader. For Aidil, it’s an absolute necessity for one to learn if they want to lead an organization forward.

“You always need fresh insight. You also need that from the right people and the experts. They can give you something that normal ‘training’ cannot give.” Free-spirited, independent, and “always-on-the-move” Aidil understands this better than anyone. He knows that entrepreneurs everywhere still need structure and a strong guiding hand to steer them in the right direction.

He says, “With the help of ASB, I was even able to react quickly to the pandemic. It’s helped grow my company stronger and stronger whilst other companies might be collapsing.” With the best education that Southeast Asia has to offer in his back pocket, Aidil ended his glorious story now knowing that he will walk away from this experience as an entrepreneur revamped.