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What I’ve learnt as an immigrant growing a multimillion-dollar business

By Sunil Kumar
14 September 2021 | 1 minute read
Sunil Kumar

When I left India in 2004 to come to Australia, I had no money and had limited English but I was in search of something bigger and brighter.

I never thought I’d get to build one of Australia’s fastest growing real estate companies, or get the chance to lead an exceptionally talented group of people.

Over the last ten years, the business has grown to 10 offices across Melbourne with a team of over 140 people and still growing, even during the pandemic. Our once fledgling new business was to become Australia’s fastest-growing real estate group three years in a row in the AFR’s “Fast 100” list, as well as winning a number of industry awards. When I think about it, I believe we overestimate what we can achieve in one year and underestimate what we can achieve in five years. It hasn’t been an easy journey but here’s what I’ve learnt so far:


Learn and Grow

It’s simple – the more you learn the more you earn. I have studied some of the most successful people, in business, sports, education, and spirituality. Still, there is not one day that goes by where I do not learn or read about some of the keys to long-term success. Wisdom is readily available to us free of cost these days via the internet; we can learn almost anything from anyone at any time, however, there is so much noise, if we’re not careful we can waste a whole day in front of the computer. I personally learn the most from the books. Reading the likes of Dale Carnegie completely changed my perspective around life and success. We can hold in our hands the stories of many amazing people sharing their lifetime of learning for the cost of one meal. I always try to be in the company of like-minded people with a greater level of success.

Have a written goal

Have a written goal for every year of your life. I break them down to personal and professional. When goals are written down you are more likely to intellectually engage and emotionally connect with the result of the goal you want to achieve. Give your full energy and focus to achieving your goals. Ensure that everything you do is moving you closer to your end goal. Some of the best advice I can give you is to spend time every week on your vision, your goal, and your current action. Ask yourself, are they getting you closer to your goals? What can you improve in your approach to make it more effective? Once a week, I still have a lunch or coffee break to review my yearly goals to see if I am on track or ask if there is something I can do better to achieve my written goals for the year.

Pressure is privilege

I remember, as I was coming up, was that it’s in the times of struggle that you learn the most important lessons. If you can learn from your hard times like we’re going through with COVID and implement these lessons along your journey, they will become the stepping stones for your future successes. If I look back, most of the guided principles within my business came from my first two and a half years, where I only knew extreme struggle. Every day was hard; if you can stay focused and push through those difficult days, it will build resilience and character toward a bigger and brighter future.

Real growth is when you are stretching yourself in hard times. Hard days are the ones that really count. Facing challenges is importantly where you find success. If you handle challenges poorly, they grow bigger. You must see them as opportunities. Your whole mindset, along with the outcomes, will change. Hard is good. We have to think this way as most people give up when things are hard. Anything worth it doesn’t come easy.

Make your days count

Any long journey you set out on, starts with that first step; similarly, any of your big plans and goals will come down to how you are making the best use of your day. Have productive, energetic days, which will contribute to productive weeks; productive weeks then become productive months. The key to success is simply making the best use of your day, always do your best and be present in everything you do. We have a saying in our office, “one week’s work in a day”, “one month’s work in a week”. It does not mean that you physically do one week’s work in one day, but it means that you aim for the most impactful work to be done in one day.

Give more than what you take.

In today’s world, where people try to take more from any relationship or transaction, you can win big if you give more than you take. This goes for all areas of your life, your friendships, relationships, your clients or customers, and colleagues. If you consciously choose to give good energy, support, love, care, assistance, or even time to others, instead of being the one always taking this, you will develop a sense of others' well-being then you will see that like-minded people will be attracted to you who will be willing to stay with you as a client or your team for long time. This is simple but very powerful life's philosophy to live a fulfilled life and the one which will make you hugely successful.

Treat people with love and respect

A person will never forget how you made them feel. Either you uplifted them and encouraged them, or you left them in a worse condition than where you found them. Always try to make sure you are careful with people, be it clients, teams, or anyone in your network. How you make people feel, says more about you as a person and as a business. One of the major turnarounds in my business was when key people joined me from my door-to-door sales days. I had helped them in their hard times without expecting anything back. Remember who treated your right and cared for you. This goes beyond just business. Build a better community and world.

If I could go back and improve one thing, it would be looking after my health and my energy. I have not dreamt of the success I achieved before now, but one thing I was always sure about was doing the right thing and giving 100% of what I do, and that includes treating people with respect. When you are grateful and want to give maximum contribution to the people around you, that underpins everything because authenticity is everything.

Sunil Kumar is an author and the CEO and founder of Reliance Real Estate. 

What I’ve learnt as an immigrant growing a multimillion-dollar business
Sunil Kumar reb
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