Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

15 Must-Follow Rules for Retiring Wealthy

retirementAs someone who has owned 4 businesses before my 30th birthday, family and friends regularly ask me about investing, retirement planning and overall, what are the best ways to have more financial security.

Follow these simple rules and you’ll be well on your way.

Top 15 Rules for Retiring Wealthy:

  1. Always spend at least 10% less than you make. Always have a savings plan and understand that most people who “look” wealthy are just in a bunch of debt. Don’t be that family. Look comfortable and BE wealthy.
  2. Spending, Saving and Giving are all habits. If you spend every dime when you make $2,000/month, you’ll spend all that you have when you make $20k/month. Develop spending, saving and donating habits immediately!
  3. The quickest way to “make” money is to pay off debt starting with the highest interest credit cards and loans first. It’s a guaranteed Return on Investment (ROI).
  4. Never put more on a credit card than you can pay off each month. If you can’t pay it off each month, shred the credit card and pay with cash or debit cards for everything.
  5. Once the high-interest debt is paid off, save up 3-6 months in savings for a rainy day.
  6. Know your budget and don’t break it. How much are your housing costs? gas, grocery bills, Starbucks purchases, gym memberships, car payments, insurance, cell phones, internet, cable TV? Track your purchases every month (Mint.com is a decent way to do this) and make sure they are under budget. Reward yourself with a dinner out or other fun activity for each month the budget is met. Just make sure the reward is also budgeted. 😉
  7. Compound interest is the most amazing invention in the world so invest early and often.
  8. Max out any employer matching 401k’s or IRA’s. It’s like getting a guaranteed 100% ROI.
  9. Never consider your primary home an investment. By the time you pay utilities, taxes, maintenance, interest, and insurance a home is nearly always a loss. However, that’s not the goal of a home anyway.
  10. Short-term investing is extremely hard to do well. Long-term investing is extremely easy to do well.
  11. Learn how to minimize taxes legally. Taxes are your biggest individual expense BY FAR.
  12. Statistically speaking, money managers don’t know jack. Very, very few are accurate over the long-term.
  13. The most expensive thing in life is ignorance. Investing, like everything else, takes some homework and a commitment to learn.
  14. Never buy toys with debt. If you can’t afford to pay cash for motorcycles, quads, dirtbikes, jet-skis, razors, boats, vacations or anything else non-essential, then you can’t afford to have them. In other words, ONLY consider debt to buy a home, business, primary vehicle and some college degrees.
  15. Delayed gratification is the number one predictor of long-term success. It’s more accurate than IQ, EQ, SAT’s, ACT’s or any other tests ever administered. In other words, spending an extra $10k to get a nicer car today can mean having $50k less when you go to retire. Discipline yourself to be an expert at delayed gratification.

Here is one of the best articles I’ve come across for a nearly foolproof plan for a healthy retirement. It lists out exactly where to invest your IRA and 401k dollars each year.

Start with the book that is referenced, If You Can: How Millenials Can Get Rich Slowly, as it is only about 35 pages long, costs less than $6 and is available for Kindle.

Warren Buffet (one of the top 3 richest men in the world for several decades) told us 30 years ago the simple secret to investing and he predicted, quite accurately, that almost no one would listen.

Do you think there are any other investing or money-management rules that are missing?

To your healthy and secure retirement,
Bryan

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Wealth is created, NOT taken

For reasons that I can not fully understand, some people believe that if I have accumulated $100 dollars someone else somewhere else has lost $100. To make the story worse, if I’ve accumulated $1,000,000 then a lot of people have lost money so that I could get it. This is simply not true! If you believe this and are afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to learn how to become wealthy because of it, please read on and comment at the end.

In America, and throughout the world, the way money is created is a rather complex process that, after reading and studying for hours, I still have yet to fully comprehend. But that’s not at all important right now. You just need to understand a few key concepts and examples about money and it will become clear to you that not only is the money supply not fixed, it’s ever increasing and that’s a good thing.

  1. Money has been around for several thousand years. If you read the Bible, Jesus references various coins including a denarius when he declares, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars.” Between 300-400 AD it’s estimated that 55 million people lived in the Roman empire. Our population is now approaching 7 billion. If each person 1700 years ago had $1000 than the entire wealth in the world was $55 billion. Out of almost 7 billion people today, the 2 richest have amassed more wealth than that and at one point, with the economy booming, the richest man in the world was worth nearly $50 billion alone. So what does this tell us? Money is a byproduct of economic  activity and increases because of it. In other words, if everyone has a job, everyone has money and somehow the banks and governments figure out how to keep printing money to keep up with it. Again, how they do that is complex and secondary to this discussion. Just grasp that there’s more money today than before and at the same time our standard of living is higher (though not everywhere as unfortunately not everyone is taught this lesson).

    Creating economic activity by contemplating my book as I enjoy a distant rain storm at the Grand Canyon.

  2. Money does grow on trees and can be dug out of the ground and can be created on a computer. Think about it. What does it cost to buy a 2×4 at the local hardware store? What does it cost to buy a tree that you can then cut down, process and make a 2×4? If you look at the cost of the raw wood while it’s still in the tree, it’s pretty cheap, maybe worth a few pennies. If you then figure out what the treated 2×4 costs after it’s been cut, cleaned, shipped, and displayed at your local lumber yard it’s still pretty cheap. Maybe $5 for that piece of wood. Now take the cost of a completed frame of a house and divide that by the number of 2×4’s and you’re looking at closer to $20-$40 per 2×4 depending on location, complexity, labor costs, local taxes etc. So why the constant increase in cost? Because more economic activity is being added at each level. And guess what? The whole time those are being processed and houses are being built, new trees are being planted and grown to sell all over again. Now consider all of the resources all over the world from our food supplies that are being farmed and grown every year, to new oil reserves that are being found because of new technology, to drinking water that’s constantly being recycled, and you realize quite literally money does grow on trees and so can never be a fixed amount. Now consider that sitting in front of a computer using virtually no resources I can create a software program that has value even though the raw cost of goods is nothing more than my own energy or, in other words, the only cost is my own economic activity. Sitting here with my computer I created value out of nearly thin air. To take our tree analogy further, what is the cost of that wood when it’s converted into paper and a book is published on it? The added value for the book was partially due to refining and colors and other raw goods and the rest was created out of thin air or more precisely out of someone’s mind. That being said, in my opinion books are by far the greatest value in the world since you can learn from a person’s lifetime of experiences and lessons for $15 or less.
  3. It’s the Federal Reserve’s and International banks’ job to keep the supply of money on par with the economic activity of the world. Whether you agree with their policies is irrelevant. I’m just pointing out that, that’s currently the system we have in place. They print money and provide money to the member banks and attempt to keep inflation in check throughout that process. And they print more money every year because more economic activity is added to our economies every year.
  4. To finally tie all of this together, if you figure out a way to extract oil out of the ground more efficiently and I concurrently figure out a way to cut and process trees into lumber more cheaply we both have added value to the economy at the same time and neither of us stole money from anyone else to do it. This happens every day. Again, just consider technology companies and authors who create value out of thin air and it should be obvious to you that the only thing they stole from anyone else was their own time and thought.

In conclusion, there’s enough wealth and abundance quite literally for everyone, not just in the US, but in the world. Rich people don’t make poor people by making more money and poor people aren’t poor because there are too many rich people. As I pointed out above, that’s just not how money works. So don’t feel jealous or greedy because you want to provide a comfortable lifestyle for you or your family. More importantly, be sure to help as many people along the way achieve that same level of success.

To your abundant success, Bryan

The fundamentals of Buying, Building, and Selling a business

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To my knowledge, there is no other blog or book or lesson or presenter who shows someone the basic pieces necessary to generate wealth with real world experience as I will. It’s the nuts and bolts of the whole buy, build, sell process.

There are basically 4 steps:

  1. Preparing – What you need to know prior to getting started.
  2. Buying – How to find, value, negotiate, and purchase a business.
  3. Building – What you can do quickly to increase the value of the business.
  4. Selling – The ins and outs of selling your business.

Preparing

Ironically, as my most recent blog has pointed out (it’s ironic because it took me 18 months to write the blog that I should have written first), the most important part is your mindset and your attitude. Next, you’ll also need to take the first 3 steps to becoming wealthy including, always spending less than you earn, understanding the difference between where you are and where you want to be is education, and framing your goals into  Do x Be = Have context. Possibly most importantly, you need to have a clear motivation for being an entrepreneur (even if it’s different than mine) and you need to appreciate that the ethical route is always the most profitable. And make sure you’re able to get over your fear of failure in trying new things.

It’s important to understand that there’s no better, quicker way to go from very little money (let’s say less than $5,000) to a lot of money. You can even take it to the next level and setup a business to generate $1,000,000 per year if that’s your desire. Recently, as part of another blog, I’ve outlined a basic plan for how someone can go from $5,000 or less to $1,000,000 primarily through business. To stress the point even further that buy, build, sell is the best way to generate wealth for the average individual, review my suggestion to skip getting your MBA and just buy a small business for your business education.

Buying

In the buy, build, sell strategy, the part that will have the greatest influence on your profit is the purchase price so learn as much as you can for this stage.

First, you’ll want to know some basic questions to ask the seller about their business and maybe even what questions to ask about any given business idea. Then you’ll have to understand how banks value a business in case you need to go to them for financing and also how EBIDTA can tie into business values (since sellers and business brokers may reference it). As you start looking for businesses, you need to have some ideas of where to find businesses for sale for little money down and how to deal with the business brokers once you find one you’re interested in.

Before you start making any offers, it’s very important that you get the seller (or broker) to like you since then they’ll be more likely to accept your business valuation. It’s very simple to turn someone down you don’t like anyway. Once you’re ready to make an offer, make sure you only purchase the assets and then put them into an LLC filing as an S-corp. If you do that, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time fighting with lawyers. But since you may need one anyway here are a few tips for getting the best rates from your lawyer.

When you’re just starting out you may be considering a partner but make sure you don’t take on a business partner unless absolutely necessary.

Building

In the building stage you’re going to need to know what to do your first 2 weeks onsite at a business you’ve just purchased. If you don’t already know the difference between profits and cashflow, I’m sure you’ll learn very quickly.

Immediately you need to work on polarizing your company’s culture, improving teamwork, and communicating effectively. Right out of the gate you need to start setting up your business for running without you through the effective use of technology, incentives, and empowering your team. If you don’t do that immediately, you’ll soon be asked to do lots of things “in” the business that will take away from you working “on” the business. This is vitally important because if you’re not working on the business you’re not taking the time necessary to double profits, improve marketing, teach your team the importance of NLP, create systems, processes and scripts, or improve closing ratios. In other words, your primary focus for building value in your business is going to entail 3 parts:

  1. Increasing Sales – through new and improved marketing and better conversion rates. In other words you have to make sure your system for taking a lead and converting it to a customer is top-notch. Don’t forget that your back-end sales (sales to existing customers) will always be your most profitable business. With that in mind, if you can buy an already profitable business that’s horrible at back-end sales you can quickly increase its value.
  2. Cutting Costs – look at all of your expenses and simply cut those that aren’t needed. We reworked our accounting and phone costs alone to save thousands of dollars per year.
  3. Improving Efficiencies – this is primarily about scripts, systems, and processes for every aspect of your business.

Don’t make the mistake I did and wait until cash gets tight to realize that cashflow is king and then start building recurring revenue while looking for quick, easy, cheap ways to generate immediate cashflow.

Chances are you’re going to run into some issues with team members so it’s helpful to know the proper way to fire someone without having to pay unemployment and effective ways to get your team members to do what they do best.

As you’re building your business you need to work on getting it to achieve critical mass by, in particular, hiring or training the 3 leaders every business needs to succeed.

In summary, you need to have a game plan from day one including an exit strategy or else you might end up like one of the 300 businesses in NYC who failed because they failed to plan for success.

Selling

Since this blog is getting long and selling isn’t much different than buying I’ll keep this short. You need to basically understand 3 things:

  1. How to value your business just the same as discussed in buying so you can justify your price.
  2. Where to list your business which is again the same places where you’d go to find a business for sale (such as bizbuysell.com)
  3. How to foster relationships so that when it’s time to sell, you have a few personal contacts in mind.

With regards to the 3rd, you may want to get to know other business owners in your area who have complimentary (or even competing businesses). You may also consider hiring a leader who would like to take over and own their own business some day. If you have a franchise like mine, you will also want to stay in touch with owners in other areas as they might want to expand their operations.

The goal with this post is to organize and direct the many varied posts I’ve written about my adventure buying, building, and now selling my business over the last 18 months. As I add more posts I’ll try to keep this summary updated so you can always reference it for new material.

To your generating-wealth-through-business success, Bryan

The FIRST 3 steps to becoming wealthy

My reason for writing this is because I’m asked by lots of people all the time how can they make money like me. Compared to the rest of the world, if you live in the USA, have a place to live, more than a few changes of clothes, and fresh food every day you’re rich. However, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about being able to have the things that you want, take the vacations you desire, and live in the homes you dream of.

The first 3 steps to becoming wealthy are:

  1. ALWAYS spend less than you make.
  2. Understand the difference between where you are and where you want to be is EDUCATION.
  3. Put your goals into the Do x Be = Have context.

If you cannot do any one of these three things, then you will either never become wealthy or your only chance of acheiving great wealth is inheritance or the lottery. For the latter, you will most likely squander whatever you’re given anyway, since you don’t know how to spend less than you make no matter how much you make. 😉

1. Always spend less than you make. Time and time again you hear people, couples, children, etc. say if they only made another $5,000 per year or got that raise they needed everything would be fine. All the bills would be paid and they’d be out of debt in a jiffy. So what happens when they get the raise? They buy a new house, a new car, a new flat screen, etc. because they need those things and now they can afford it. Do NOT fall into that trap. If you cannot survive for the next 3-6 months with little or no income, then you have a problem. If your goal is to be wealthy, your FIRST step in that direction should be to have enough money in savings or other liquid assets to survive for 3-6 months with little or no income! If you cannot manage your own finances well, you will never be able to manage 2 or 3 or 100 times that much money for a business. Conversely, if you understand how to manage your own cashflow, translating that to business is a cinch.

Before buying my first business I had about 5 months where I only worked part time. At that time I owned 2 sports cars, a beautiful house with a 3-car garage, 1 motorcycle and the normal stuff you’d expect from a bachelor. 🙂  At the end of the 5 months I was down to 1 sports car (that I refinanced to lower my monthly payments), no motorcycle, and a whole lot fewer motorcycle and car parts then before. I needed to turn those possessions into liquid assets to pay my bills. The lawyer bills alone from the business purchase were more than I made on the sale of my car and motorcycle together! If an opportunity presented itself, would you be able to come up with the necessary cash to make the investment? Even if it’s as simple as buying and reselling a vehicle because it’s such a great deal.

2. Understand the difference between where you are and where you want to be is EDUCATION. Rich people know something that you don’t. What is it? Maybe it’s how to buy, build, and sell a business. Maybe it’s how to invest in real estate. Maybe it’s how to master the stock market. Maybe it’s negotiating skills, or public speaking talents, or simply how to find the best deals. The reason they have more money than you is because they know more than you about generating wealth. So how do you bridge that gap and learn what they know (and much more)???  Start with The Best 6 Books to Teach you how to Generate Wealth and then spend some time on my recommended reading selections. If you want the quickest (though still incomplete) lessons to get you up to speed, read my blogs. It will be worth the time and the price is right. 😉

3. Put your goals into the Do x Be = Have context. Obviously you need to read my blog on the topic to understand the full scope of this algorithm. However, a quick summary is simply this: know what you need to Do to become who you need to Be to get what you want to Have. In other words don’t just set goals, set the correct goals!

As a quick example of this, to purchase my business I needed 2 assets:

  1. The cash (including the vehicles to sell to generate the cash) to pay the lawyers and support myself.
  2. The knowledge to convince someone else to lend me the rest.

Moreover, I knew becoming a business owner was putting me on the right track to become who I needed to Be to obtain what I wanted to Have. Which is ultimately why I buy, build, and sell businesses.

To your success in generating wealth, Bryan