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How I built a £50 million empire

VISION: Hard work and self belief have brought Gordon the success he enjoys today

WELL BEFORE the Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Bentleys came along, property entrepreneur Charles Gordon was labeled unemployable at school.

And surrounded by the “police sirens and gun culture” of the south London council estate he grew up on, he thought seriously about joining a gang to “get rich quick or die trying.”

“I didn’t achieve at school and was told by teachers that I was dumb and would never amount to anything” the father of one tells The Voice. “I was kicked out of my parents’ home as a teenager and slept on various friends’ floors. Often I didn’t even have enough money to eat. On the streets I saw drug dealers and wannabe gangsters with money and girls and thought ‘I want that’. But I realised the odds were stacked against me. Even if I did make money through crime I wouldn’t be able to spend it. My last option was to try and make it in business.”

And he has certainly done that. Gordon is now one of London’s biggest black business success stories. His property and music empire (he owns record label Genetic Records) is worth in excess of £50 million.

Now, the entrepreneur who regularly hangs out with stars such as rap mogul P Diddy and Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton, has written a book called The Secrets of Empowerment to help aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The book offers readers some of his hard-earned insights and the proven techniques that have made him successful, all presented in an easy to read format.

The Secrets of Empowerment is divided into 55 principles with headings such as Success or Failure is a State of Mind, The Real Way to Start a Business and Money, Power and Respect.

Here, Gordon reveals more about why he decided to write the book.

Why have you divided your book into 55 principles?
The objective is to get as much knowledge out there to let people understand that it can be done. When I was 19 I walked into the bank dressed in my tracksuit and trainers and couldn’t understand why the bank manager would not give me a loan. These things are obvious to me now, but back then it was not so obvious, and if no one teaches you, you will learn business the hard way.

Where do most people go wrong in business?
People are always held back by that glass ceiling effect. However one of the advantages of being self-employed is that there isn’t a ceiling. You get out what you put in and you can go to the top.

What do you think are the main reasons why businesses fail in the black community?
Going all the way back to the beginning, no one knew Charles Gordon was a black man when I started out. I deliberately didn’t let people know because I did not want any preconceived racial stereotypes to work against me even with fellow black businesses. The power of illusion is priceless!

Why don’t black businesses trust each other?
The harsh reality is because black people don’t always do business properly. Integrity plays a huge part in trust. We need to have longevity in our thoughts and think of long term revenue streams rather than short term, which is one of the aspects I have covered in my book.

What people should you avoid in business?
Avoid the ‘unhappy and the unlucky’ people like the plague. You don’t want people around you who will ‘piss on your parade’. What you find in the world’s population is that you will get people who are negative 90 percent of the time. They find reasons why they fail at their business and want you to share their failures. They will rubbish your ideas and dreams so keep away from!


1. Create a plan
Find out your objectives and work out how to get there by the shortest route. This is how you work smart instead of hard.

2. Be resourceful
Thanks to technology it is now easier to set up a business without much start-up capital. The internet, phones, tweeting are designed to help us reach our goals.
3. Always look for the solution
The biggest obstacle in your life is you. Instead of focusing on the problems focus on the solutions.
4. Be confident
Business is all about getting others to do things your way, and people gravitate towards confident people.
5. Create a ‘to do’ list
One of the major keys to my success is I always write a things to do list. This is a great tool for prioritizing and monitoring your progress on a daily and weekly basis.
6. Make sacrifices
The true sacrifice in business is getting out of your comfort zone. In order to progress you have to set higher challenges for yourself.
7. Don’t waste time
Life is too short to dwell on the past or procrastinate. Instead spend every hour of every day translating your dreams into reality.
8. Self-belief
Once you master the art of believing in yourself, that’s when things really start to happen. Every great man or woman understands this principle.  
9. Tweak the process
My philosophy for life has always been that every time I am getting it wrong I am only one step away from getting it right. The best thing you can do to gain success is to turn every stone, and under one you will surely find what you need.
10. Never give up
Persistence overcomes resistance. The most persistent individuals always beat the smartest guys.

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