Besides a lot of money, just what is the difference between someone worth $50,000 and someone worth $10 million? With so many diverse millionaires in the world today, it’s easy to see that being rich is not primarily related to geographical location, ethnicity, education, or even family wealth.
T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, says “you can have all the knowledge and skills in the world, but if your ‘blueprint’ isn’t set for success, you’re financially doomed.”
So what’s this special blueprint that sets wealthy people up for success? It’s written in the way they behave and in the habits they keep.
In particular, wealthy people have a different outlook and strategy when it comes to managing their income and cash flow—and that makes them even richer. Changing your habits is the first step toward being financially wise, stable, and capable of growth.
Here’s how the super-rich do it:
1. Put off instant gratification for a bigger payoff later.
Remember the Marshmallow Test of the 1960s? If not, here’s a brief overview: Psychologist Dr. Walter Mischel designed a test for preschool-aged children where they were put in a room alone and given one marshmallow. The children were told that they could eat their marshmallow immediately, or wait for the examiner to re-enter the room and give them a second marshmallow.
To four-year-olds, it was the ultimate test of patience, foresight, and the ability to delay gratification. Of the children able to wait for another marshmallow, Mischel said they were “more able to sustain effort and deal with frustration” as adults. Furthermore, these children went on to be physically healthier and score higher on State Achievement Tests.
2. Be frugal, even if you don’t have to.
“Learn how to live within your means and how to delay gratification; these are the habits that you need to maintain on the way up, so you can keep your millions when you get there,” says Adrian Cartwood, author of How to Make 7 Million in 7 Years.
Reports show that the preferred car of millionaires is a Ford. That’s probably not what most people imagine as their vehicle when they daydream about being rich, but it’s true nevertheless. Cadillacs and Lincolns are rated second and third, respectively. The reason for this is pretty simple: as an investment, vehicles have a poor return. Many wealthy people would rather invest their money into their own business or into a specific financial plan than spend it on a vehicle that will eventually need to be replaced.
Carlos Slim, CEO of Mexico’s telecom giant Telmex, is a great example of frugality in wealth. Worth $49.3 billion, Slim lives in a fairly modest 6-bedroom house in Mexico City, three miles from his birthplace. His children shared bedrooms growing up, and though he does own a Mercedes, he drives it himself.
3. Seek self-employment or start your own business.
If there’s one thing you can’t control when you are an employee, it’s your income and that’s something you really need to have control of in order to make and have plenty of money. The majority of millionaires in the United States are manager-owners of businesses, in charge of creating their own incomes.
Take Sir Richard Branson, for example. With startup capital of just £300 pounds, he first started a student magazine, then a mail-order record company, then Virgin Records, and eventually an entire empire of tourism, telecommunications, finance, and media companies. Today he’s worth almost $5 billion.
4. Seek education when necessary.
“Many world-class performers have little formal education, and have amassed their wealth through the acquisition and subsequent sale of specific knowledge,” Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think.
Earning a college degree, a university degree, or even a high school diploma isn’t a necessary prerequisite to becoming incredibly wealthy. In fact, on the Forbes 400 list, college dropouts outnumber PhDs 63 to 21. Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Shawn Carter, and many more top earners joined the working world before completing high school. Even Bill Gates dropped out of college.
Despite these numbers, education is a big deal; it just depends on what kind of education you’re getting. Entrepreneurs have to find training programs, mentorships, and on-the-job support that will help the business succeed and grow. They’ll need to learn technical skills, sales techniques, and how to complete any number of integral tasks to bring money in and keep it coming.
5. Invest your earnings wisely.
“Millionaires make wise investments. But not all wise investments are listed on the stock exchanges.”—Thomas J. Stanley, The Millionaire Mind
One of the most important investments a business owner can make is back into the business. It is crucial to a company’s growth and success. Millionaires surveyed by Legg Mason stated that they keep an average of 25 percent of their assets in cash. In order of popularity, the most common remaining investments made by the wealthy are equities, bonds, real estate, and non-traditional investments.
Embrace a New Attitude
Even if you haven’t reached a million dollars in income or savings, it’s good to emulate how the rich handle their money. Their wisdom and attitude toward money management can positively influence your financial decisions, and help you to achieve your own wealth and affluence.
Ask yourself a couple of questions: Can you put off the gratification of spending a paycheck for the larger, future payoff of putting together a successful business? Can you turn down a low offer and wait patiently for a higher one? Are you willing to reinvest your earnings into your own business? Can you learn what you need to run your business? Wealthy people can.
Jeff Bezos has just overtaken Warren Buffet as the world’s third-richest man. According to Bloomberg, the Amazon CEO is worth $65.05 billion, beating Buffet by a whopping $32 million and pushing him down to the fourth spot. Bezos’ net worth is now only beaten by Spanish business magnate Amancio Ortega at the second spot and Microsoft founder Bill Gates leading the billionaire index at $90 billion.
How did the founder of a small internet-based business that started in a home garage in Seattle, at a time when everyone was dubious about online businesses, get to be one of the richest men in the world? Bezos’ story is an inspiring one with great business principles and lessons that every entrepreneur should learn from. Below are a few lessons from Jeff Bezos that could help make your business a success.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try
This is probably one of the first and most important lessons you could learn from Bezos. He left his vice president role at a top investment firm, D.E. Shaw & Co., to start a new business in a market that still had a lot of uncertainties. This was a great risk; he was leaving all the financial security and power that came with his job to start a business that he knew very well could fail and leave him with nothing.
“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table,” he said in an interview about the A9 research. Leaving the job was a risk, but there was a lot of opportunities in his business idea, and it outweighed the risk.
Bezos came up with what he calls a “regret minimization framework,” where he basically imagines himself at age 80 and the kind of regrets he would have. He says the one regret he knew he was not going to have was trying out his business idea, even if it would have failed. This made it an incredibly easy decision for him to make. He had to go forward with his business.
Bezos’ life was pretty secure by being at the top management spot in his previous company, but he had a vision he believed in. He had thought it over, and he believed it could work even when the situation at the time didn’t look optimal. He risked everything to make his vision a reality, and it worked extremely well for him.
“I knew that if I didn’t try this, I would regret it. And that would be inescapable,” he said in one of his earlier interviews with Time Magazine.
Focus on Customers
According to Jeff Bezos, “The most important single thing is to focus obsessively on the customer. Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” This mentality has stuck with the company throughout its existence, and making customers the main priority was the reason for the company’s tremendous success.
Starting a web-based business was a smart move by Bezos, because it made studying and measuring consumer behavior easy. It helped track metrics that contribute to overall customer satisfaction. Amazon continuously evolves to create features that improve the user’s experience, and some of its earliest additions are changing the internet today.
For example, when Amazon added customer book reviews to their website and encouraged their customers to share their opinion, they received backlash from publishers. However, the customers took on the idea of reviews positively. Today reviews have become a vital part of any e-commerce business.
Start Small, Stay Hungry
Amazon started off selling one thing only: books. Starting with too many products or services at once can delay you from establishing a niche and making a name for yourself in the market. Keep a vision of growth, but start with only a few products you can grow from.
Books were Amazon’s proving ground, but Bezos already had his eyes on having an “everything store.” Because he focused on perfecting Amazon as an online bookstore, he learned what worked and what didn’t, and he improved their processes as the business grew. When more products were added, Amazon had already made a name for itself as an online store, and they set a precedent for providing the best service to customers.
The trick is to keep evolving. As Bezos said, “What is dangerous is not to evolve.” If you just stay in one place, you are limiting your company’s opportunities and potential. Find a way to expand into newer markets, whether it’s going international, adding new products or anything else that will help you grow.
Being the world’s third-richest man is by no means something to ignore, but Bezos’ character as a business person and his ability to inspire goes beyond just his pockets. He is a smart businessman who knows how to take a calculated risk. He believes that the risk is worth the reward, as evidenced by leaving a high paying job to start his own business in an uncertain market.
He supports proactivity within his company and even created an award that he calls, “Just Do It,” which recognizes employees who take initiative, regardless if they fail or succeed.
The savvy businessman is a true embodiment of sharp business acumen, ambition, innovation and thinking out of the box, which all have helped him create the online empire that Amazon is today.
Probably the biggest difference between wealthy people and poor people is their perspective toward money: the wealthy think about their money and the poor mostly worry about it. The wealthy engage in proactive and constructive thought about how to earn more, keep more, and spend less of it—as opposed to the poor, who generally fear not having enough of it.
To be able to think about it, you’ve first got to know where you stand, financially. Then you can begin to consider how you can spend less, earn more, and keep more of your money.
Here are five steps you can take towards a wealth mindset and actual wealth:
1. Face Your Finances
A 2013 survey by Bankrate.com found that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Another survey, by MagnifyMoney.com, reported that 56% of Americans have $1,000 or less in their combined checking and savings accounts.
What this tells you is that most people don’t really look at their money in terms of the future. And frankly, if you don’t know where you stand financially in the present, how can you consider your financial future?
Go get a pencil and sheet of paper. Make two columns on the page and write down your monthly expenses on the left-hand side:
- Car payment
- Credit card bills (monthly minimum due)
- Utilities (electricity, water, cable, internet)
- Insurance (car, home, etc.)
Include any other monthly expenses you have.
On the right side, write down your monthly income from your job and any other sources.
Add up all your expenses and subtract the total from your income. What’s left?
It’s possible that what’s leftover on paper is not what’s leftover in your savings or checking account.
So, what else do you spend your money on? Clothes? Entertainment? Vehicle repairs or maintenance?
Take-away: Wealthy people know how much they spend and how much they have in the bank. Evaluating your finances can be a sobering experience, but you can’t take control of your finances if you don’t know what shape it’s in.
2. Spend Less
Now that you have a firm idea of how much you spend, figure out areas where you could spend less.
You were just getting ready to click away from this article, weren’t you? Yes, this is the part—cutting down your spending—where most people rebel and fall back into their usual habits.
This may seem ridiculously obvious, but the reason you want to spend less is so you can have more money.
At the beginning of this article, you read that the difference between wealthy people and poor ones is that the wealthy think about money, whereas the poor worry about it. Well, here is another difference:
Wealthy people HAVE more money.
It’s not necessarily because they earn more, but it’s definitely because they keep more. According to a 20-year study by Tom Stanley and William Danko (which became the book, The Millionaire Next Door), wealthy people save or invest 20% of their income, compared to the five percent or less average for others. By finding ways to keep more and spend less, you will have more money next month than you did this month. (Put it in a savings account or in the cookie jar.) You will be wealthier.
Make it a game or a challenge. If you eat out a lot, preparing your meals at home can save untold amounts of money every week. Can you pay off any of your credit card balances? See how much you can save on your power bill by making sure no lights or appliances are left on unnecessarily. Are there items you can buy for a lot less at the dollar store than at the supermarket?
Take-away: Many associate wealth with extravagance: diamonds, new Ferraris, and mansions. According to Stanley and Danko, the majority of millionaires drive second-hand GM cars and wear watches that cost less than $100. They don’t have flash, they have money—and they have it because they keep more of what they make.
3. Eliminate Penalties and Fees
Often, people who do not have very good control of their money (see #1 and 2, above) also do not have very good control of their credit card bills. Late payments result in late fees and, sometimes, increased interest rates, both of which eat into your wealth.
One of the best ways to prevent fees and higher interest rates is to automate your bill-paying. Most credit card companies give you the option to create an online account and monthly automatic withdrawal from your checking account to pay bills. If you’re the kind of person who forgets to pay until it’s too late, this is the way to go.
Take-away: Wealthy people don’t waste money and wouldn’t be caught dead with a high-interest credit card, let alone paying a late fee—two of the biggest ways to waste money.
4. Buy for Value
While it’s necessary to reduce expenses, especially when just starting out on your way to wealth, shopping for everything based only on the lowest price can sometimes end up costing you more in the long run.
Rather than shop for the cheapest, look for the best value.
This is easy to see in terms of car shopping: If you finance a vehicle for three years, the payments will be higher than if you finance it for five years, but you will actually spend more in interest on a five-year loan than on a three-year loan. (As of late, some dealerships are offering no-interest financing for three years, which makes that an even better value.)
When shopping for a used car, that $40 or $50 membership to a service like CarFax is extremely cheap compared to the thousands of dollars in future repairs you might have to pay if you buy blindly.
You can apply this to more routine purchases like food and clothing: when a particular food item you like or use often goes on sale, stock up on it and save future dollars. Cheap clothing or shoes wear out faster and need replacement; buying better quality items may cost more up front but is cheaper in the long run.
Take-away: Wealthy people don’t concentrate on “cheapest” but on “best value.” Get into the wealthy habit of buying for value when making a purchase.
5. Earn More
While a considerable part of wealth consists of saving money and eliminating wasteful spending, you can’t ignore the importance of increasing your income.
It’s said that the average millionaire has seven income streams. That may or may not be true, but one thing is certain: it’s better to have multiple income streams than to have only one.
There are many ways to create additional income streams. Here are some:
When you start thinking in terms of bringing in more money, you will seek out and become more aware of ways to do it. Ideally, you want to find some ways that create income without requiring you to work more hours.
Take-away: Wealthy people tend to have multiple sources of income, which may include things like businesses and investment property. Do your research and figure out one new income. Get it solidly established and productive. Then find another and develop that.
Do these five things. They will get you to think like a wealthy person and you will be on your way to attaining greater wealth.
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”–Jack Canfield
Fear typically rears its ugly head when you finally decide to do something big, like start a business or scale your current one. Statistics about business failures do not help; they just make your fears stronger. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are about 28 million small businesses in the US. Unfortunately, only half of them survive and about one-third make it past their 10th year.
No matter how disheartening these figures are, they should not prevent you from reaching your business goals. If Mark Zuckerberg and Walt Disney let these statistics intimidate them, their lives would be very different, perhaps less favorable. Managing a business is no easy feat and the only way to overcome fear is to approach it head-on. Unless you find a way to fight your fear, you could miss opportunities and hold yourself back from reaching your true potential.
Here are seven of the most common fears that entrepreneurs face and how to break free from their paralyzing effect.
1. Fear of Being Judged
Did you know that Google was once an unprofitable company with no business model? For a while, it struggled to find a stable revenue source. It wasn’t until it decided to focus on selling search technologies and Adwords that it finally found its footing. Apple also had its share of failures.
The company struggled to make profits to the point that they sold digicams, CD players, and TVs. Steve Jobs being fired made matters worse. It wasn’t until 1997 when Steve Jobs returned and made a bold change in the company that Apple was able to bounce back.
Sometimes you’re too consumed with being liked or fitting in that you become afraid to reinvent yourself. People have expectations of your brand, but if what you’re doing is not working, it may be time to make a change. It could be your saving grace. To fight off the fear of being judged or rejected, you have to accept that not everyone will like you. If you fail the first time, reboot. Apply a new strategy and re-engage.
2. Fear of Failure or Losing
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report reveals that fear of failure depends on where you are in the world. Around 61.2% of Europeans aged 18-35 think that having a business is a good career option. However, this is low when compared to its peers in Latin America (74.9%), North Africa and the Middle East (75.5%) and Sub-Saharan Africa (76.5%). Areas that are exposed to difficult conditions are more likely to think of failure as a normal phenomenon. As a result, people become less afraid of it, pushing them to innovate and take on risks.
The secret to successful innovations is accepting that loss is an integral part of business growth and development. Polaroid, Kodak, and Motorola are classic examples of big companies failing to keep up with the changing market. They failed to innovate and reinvent, and they are continuing to feel the effects of that.
If you don’t want to experience the same fate, you have to accept that you won’t win every time. Think of what you will do if you fail so you can create a contingency plan that could help you recover quickly.
3. Fear of the First Step
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”–Lao Tzu
Procrastination is becoming one of the most expensive, invisible costs in businesses. A study of 10,000 US employees revealed that procrastination costs companies around $10,396 per employee, per year. Imagine the price you’re going to pay if this happens within your company.
Microsoft would not be the gargantuan tech company it is today if Bill Gates did not pitch his idea to IBM. Starbucks would not be one of the world’s largest coffee companies if Howard Schultz decided not to ask his employer to finance his idea. These success stories should be motivation to push you to take that first step towards a greater, more promising future. Just do it and do it now!
4. Fear of Letting Go
Some business owners want to have everything under control. They fear that if they delegate tasks, things will get chaotic. As a result, they micromanage and lose sight of core business goals because they’re focusing on the little things, like the money in the petty cash register or next week’s coffee supply.
Business owners need project management tools to delegate tasks, monitor performance, quality, and work turnaround. Options include, Trello, Speedcamp, and Asana. They’re free and they let you focus on the things that matter like profitability, innovation, and customer relationships. Hire managers or consultants who have experience and an excellent track record so you can be confident that your company is in great hands.
5. Fear of Offending
If you want to succeed, you have to be audacious with your actions. Be honest and upfront about potential issues. Consider what happened to Nokia: For fear of being offensive to senior management, many employees did not communicate their concerns about the problematic operating system and style of phones, especially compared to the iPhone. The market did not respond well to their product. This move caused their market value to decline by about 90% in just six years.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to be direct, honest, and professional about potential issues.
6. Fear of Old Age
It’s never too late to do great things.
Henry Ford and Sam Walton are just two entrepreneurs who were successful later in life. Ford was 45 when he made the revolutionary Model T car. Walton was 44 when he founded Walmart. It may sound cliché, but age is really just a number. Do not let it stop you from doing what you love and are passionate about. Your belief in yourself and your happiness are far more important than age. Get out there and start making things happen!
7. Fear of Success
In his article, “Those Wrecked by Success,” Sigmund Freud described the fear of success as a perceived need to fail. He said that this may be connected to the person’s experiences during childhood where parents thought that aiming too high would just result in disappointments and failures. As a result, they don’t push their children to dream big. Children then develop the fear of assertion. Some feel guilty over surpassing a mentor or a hero.
Meanwhile, the Imposter Syndrome is when a person believes that success is a false reality. They fear that others might discover that they are not really good at anything and are just pretending to be successful.
The thought of bigger responsibilities, fame, & the threats associated with success can be overwhelming. This is why some lottery winners say that they were better off before winning. To break free of this fear, do not let success get to your head. Think of it as an accomplishment that you can share with others. Be grounded and self-aware.
Don’t Give In
The business world is a jungle. Only the toughest make it. When you step out of your comfort zone, you may encounter fear in every form. The risks are great, but so are the rewards. Take it all in, learn from every experience, and overcome fear by having the right mindset and attitude. Fear is natural. It is nothing to be ashamed of, but don’t let it paralyze you. Have a clear purpose and faith. What separates successful entrepreneurs from failures is their ability to conquer their fears.