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

How hippies created the New Rich while influencing your ideas of time and money

If you don’t know who the New Rich are keep reading because we’ll get to that… First, some history on how they were created… The history is important because it will explain a bit about your personal conflicts and struggles in balancing work and a career with your need for excitement and family.

Let’s start 3 generations ago… Think post World War 2 and the 1950’s – commonly known as the baby-boomers. These people viewed jobs, income, being rich and, quite frankly, a whole lot of things differently. Life for the average American was pretty straight-forward:

  1. Go to school
  2. Get a job
  3. Keep job for life
  4. Raise a family
  5. Go to church every Sunday
  6. Teach family athletics, manners, and respect
  7. Take vacation every year
  8. Get the entire family together for major holidays
  9. After 40 years retire with the money you saved, move south, golf and/or fish and spend time with the grand kids
  10. Being rich means having a nicer house, car, and boat than your neighbors.

Life was centered around family and work. Pay was based on a combination of:

  1. Education or Skill
  2. Experience
  3. Number of hours worked

In other words you put in your time in the form of schooling, work-experience, and a long work-week and you were paid well.

Then in the 1960’s and 70’s the hippies came along and decided they didn’t much like their parents out-dated, sheltered, closed-minded and limited view on the world. They questioned and reexamined everything they were taught and decided life was about new experiences more than family or a steady-income. Their lives were a bit different:

  1. They found new experiences in drugs, travel, music, sex, politics and just about anything else.
  2. They stopped going to church or at least as much.
  3. They stopped having large families.
  4. They stopped keeping the same job forever.
  5. “True” hippies tried not to work at all or just enough to fund their next adventure.
  6. Work was no longer a sense of pride but simply a means to an end. A job. Work became a 4-letter word.
  7. Retirement? Don’t you have to have a job to retire from first?
  8. Wealth is about having more experiences and a better understanding of yourself than your neighbors.

Sunset over Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park

However, even with their new ideas about the world, pay was still based on the 3 items listed above and all directly related to time input. Obviously not all members of the hippy generation decided to travel down the hippy highway. Quite a few followed in the footsteps of their parents and particularly the “work hard to get ahead” mantra stuck with them. However, they couldn’t fully escape the free-spirited influence of their friends.

Then comes along generations X (1962-81) and more particularly Y (1982-98). We are being raised by parents and in school systems that try to educate us to, “work hard to get ahead” and to “put in your time and it will all pay off.” While at the same time being taught to have balance in our lives. Don’t become a workaholic. Take time to see the world since travel is so cheap these days. And the advice I’ve personally heard about 1,000 times, “take the time to do all of those things while you’re young.” Apparently the solution to the conflicting worldviews of the hippies and the baby-boomers is to be a hippy while you’re young and enjoy all the great new experiences that you can handle and then “settle down” and follow the baby- boomers’ formula for success as an “adult.” If you’re Generation Y you know exactly what I’m talking about… Because you’ve heard it, too. If you’re early in Gen X or a baby-boomer, you’ve probably said it… 🙂

Come again? I’m supposed to see the world and race motorcycles and skip church and experiment in my 20’s so that I can “get it out of my system” and then somehow be content the rest of my life making the proper decisions, raising a family, working a steady job, and limiting travel to occasional vacations?

I promise you, that plan does not work. How do I know this? In August, I’ve failed to publish any new blogs because I took a 17 day, 5561 mile, 10 state, 9 national park motorcycle journey throughout the west. The following story has happened to me in some form dozens of times, but here’s one example of how that desire for freedom, expression and new experiences can never be satisfied once you’ve tasted it.

My bike outside of Death Valley NP. FYI: Don't ever ride thru Death Valley in August!

As I’m walking to my motorcycle from the shower facility in Yellowstone National Park I notice a minivan parked next to me with 2 cute little girls running about, both sliding doors and the rear hatch open, a wife running around doing motherly things, and the husband just standing there waiting for me… He’s literally looking straight at me as I walk toward my bike. My bike is fully stocked with saddle bags, camping gear, and everything you need for an extended vacation and this guy noticed… After some small talk while his wife gathers the necessary tools for their showers I ask him if he rides. He HAD been smiling. His wife immediately stops for the first time and with the-smile-that-says-a-thousand-words looks straight at him. He looks at her and I couldn’t help but remark, “Uh oh, your wife is listening to your response so you better get it right.” She doesn’t flinch or take her eyes off of him. He smiles and says, “Yeah, I ride dirt bikes now.” The Mrs. goes back to her motherly duties satisfied with his answer. I bet you can guess his advice to me… “Do it while you’re young.” That was the second or third time in 2 hours that I’d heard that advice. I’ve lost track of how often people tell me that.

Did you catch how he ended his sentence with, “now”? Yeah, me too. Granted this man had a beautiful wife, 2 super-cute little girls, and enough money to take a week long vacation with the family to one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth. He was living the baby-boomer dream… But if you could have seen his face and the way his eyes were transfixed on my motorcycle it would be immensely obvious that something was missing… He had tasted that freedom and adventure, which for him happened to be on a motorcycle, and he wasn’t fully satisfied with his new stable, predictable life. Would you be??? Or if you’re not there yet, will you be? Can you have both that stability and some freedom? Issues with your better half aside…

Along comes what Timothy Ferriss calls in The 4-Hour Workweek, the New Rich. Thanks primarily to the shrinking of the world due to increases in technology, people have started to realize that you can work from anywhere. For 2 years I worked out of the basement of my home for a software company 620 miles away. While taking pictures in Oceanside, OR last week a nice couple told me they moved there and out of the city because the husband “telecommutes” as a software engineer 700 miles away to San Francisco.

In addition, people have realized when you don’t have to deal with small talk at the water cooler or talk to your co-workers about last night’s episode of Survivor you can get a lot more done a lot more quickly. In other words, when working remotely, you can do so more efficiently. This is what the New Rich are all about. The ability to work from anywhere more efficiently than their co-workers sitting in an office.

There’s more to the story thanks to the hippies, though… As I mentioned earlier, the baby-boomers always thought you traded hours for dollars. More time equals more money. Over time you can save enough money in your nest egg to pay for the time where you won’t be making money in retirement. The New Rich don’t see it that way… As a matter of fact, that’s all wrong. Whereas conventional thought values a person’s wealth based solely on their bank account and possessions, the New Rich consider 2 things:

  1. Cashflow
  2. Timeflow (yeah, I just made that word up)

Cashflow – If you have a steady income, you don’t need a nest egg. In other words, if I have a business that makes me money every month, why do I need a million dollars to retire? Your answer to that should be – “Well you need to work in that business if it’s going to make you money and if you’re working you can’t do the things you want to in retirement.” Good answer. But you’re wrong. It is possible to have cashflow without giving up your life and all of your time. Besides, what good is having all the money in the world if you don’t have the time to enjoy it? Just as importantly, when you’re 68, will you be able to enjoy the same adventures as you can when you’re 28?

Timeflow – I’ll use an example to explain this concept. If you’re a lawyer and you make $208,000 per year and work 80 hours per week, your hourly income is $50/hour. You’re now one of the top income earners in the country and, with a reasonable savings and investment plan, will be rich in short order, right? What if, however, I make $52,000 per year, have no office, can work from a cafe in Jackson Hole, WY or a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and only need to work 5 hours per week? Only one hour per day. That translates to $200/hour.  More importantly, I have an extra 75 hours of time that I own, control, and is available to me every week. That control of your time is what I call, timeflow.

Now for the tough part, which is more valuable? Which is more important? This isn’t a trick question. One of them is truly more important and more valuable than the other.

It’s your timeflow for one simple reason: You can lose all of your money and get it back, but once you’ve given up your time, it’s lost forever.

That being the case, when was the last time you went into a performance review and asked for more vacation time instead of a raise? What about when negotiating for your job? Did you offer to give up a week or 2 worth of pay for additional time off? If your time is truly more valuable, what are you doing to improve your timeflow at work or in your business???

If you understand that concept, you understand what it’s like to be the New Rich. To become one of the elite members of the New Rich community you need to work on 3 things:

  1. Cashflow
  2. Timeflow
  3. Mobility

The best way to achieve these 3 things is to own your own business. That business can be a brick-and-mortar, main street style business as Brad Sugars suggests and I have owned. Or it can be an internet business that simply resells products as Timothy Ferriss suggests. Either way, the business has to be absentee-owned so, whether you’re there or not, it’s putting money into your bank account. If the business you’re looking to buy doesn’t allow for absentee ownership, don’t buy it. If the business you own doesn’t provide that option, sell it.

So how did the hippies create a group of people with such financial and business savvy? Well they didn’t do it on their own. The hippies simply taught us the importance of timeflow. They reminded us of the human-spirit’s desire for new experiences and to see new places. The baby-boomers taught us that, to enjoy those things, you still need money. The Generation X and Yers have put those together, wrapped it all up in the latest communications technology, and created this new breed of entrepreneur. Once you’re a member of the New Rich you can decide if you prefer the cars, motorcycles, and boats in the style of the baby-boomers or the travel and experiences in the style of the hippies… That’s the beauty of their lifestyles. They’ve created a way to do what they want to do when they want to do it. You can learn to do the same.

Whether you own a business or have a job, hopefully by understanding how the New Rich are finding balance in their lives amongst all the conflicting information they were taught by their parents and educators, you can better achieve a timeflow and cashflow balance in yours.

To your balanced success, Bryan

P.S. If this makes sense to you and you’re interested in learning how to go about acquiring your own business start with The Fundamentals. If you already own a business, you need to learn how to start improving your timeflow. If you’ve owned that business for any amount of time you may really need to consider moving on and buying one that can truly help you achieve your goals. You may also email me directly for more help.

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

The best 6 books to teach you how to generate wealth…

When I started business “consulting” at the ripe old age of 20 with no actual business ownership and management experience, I ran into a few problems. My job was to implement a new software system that would significantly change the work flow of a business. In that process I would have to recommend ways to handle leads, in-bound and out-bound calls, inventory, receivables, and offer suggestions on what management reports to run. I learned that to get buy-in it was necessary to explain WHY they needed to do all of this. No matter how much I knew or how many businesses I helped, a 21 year old wasn’t ever going to get much respect right away. So I learned a quick way to build rapport is to use “experts” to make some suggestions instead of me just making them. In other words I learned to use books to backup my expertise and build instant credibility. I furthered that credibility by publishing articles in trade magazines when I was 22… But that’s a different story. 🙂

So after years of reading books on real estate, investing, business building, sales, marketing, and psychology here are the ones that offer the BEST advice for wealth building in the order of importance.

  1. Billionaire In Trainingby Brad Sugars: If you don’t know this guy then you need to. He retired with $10 million in the bank at age 26 for a few years. Then got bored and launched what is now the largest business coaching business in the world, Action Coach International. Now at age 34 he’s been involved in over 50 businesses and is using the formula in this book to become a very young billionaire. The best book of its kind.
  2. Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flatby Michael Masterson: Masterson’s approach is a bit different than Sugar’s which is why I liked it. Masterson talks in detail about starting and growing a business step-by-step, whereas Brad says don’t waste your time starting one, just buy one. Regardless, Masterson has turned himself into a hundred millionaire and retired for the first time at age 39. He provides some excellent tools particularly his insights into marketing and back-end sales.
  3. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About Itby Michael Gerber: One of the best business books ever according to Inc. magazine. Gerber breaks down the reason most businesses fail to the owners misunderstandings about business. The greatest misunderstanding – that because I’m a good plumber, electrician, accountant, lawyer, etc. I’m gonna be great at running a business that will allow me to use my sweet skills.
  4. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differentlyby Marcus Buckingham: After interviewing 80,000 managers in 20,000 different organizations over 20 years Buckingham has broken down the best way to measure employee productivity and happiness to 12 simple questions. If 12 is too many he even gives you ways to shorten that list depending on your goals. If you EVER plan on doing a performance review or have employees, read this book.
  5. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companiesby Jim Collins and Jerry Porras: The greatest lesson I took away from this book was that Gerber and Sugars are right. Even the greatest businesses over the last 100 years were founded to be great businesses from the start NOT to provide a great product. That’s a VERY important distinction. Sorry to dissapoint all those high-ranked business schools that say you need the product first. 🙂
  6. The Millionaire Mindby Thomas Stanley: This book is a compilation of data from survey’s answered by over 1300 millionaire’s. Some of his findings are quite interesting. The most important 2 were that the number 1 thing millionaire’s attribute to their success is “Being honest with all people.” The second is that most millionaires were at or below average according to our fine education system. They were mostly college dropouts , C students, and averaged less than 1000 on their SAT’s.

Though I’ve read Robert Allen’s Nothing Down for the 90sand Hagstrom’s The Warren Buffett Way and Peter Lynch’s Beating the Street along with dozens of other books and online services related to real estate and investing, I have very purposely left those out. I’m not saying they’re poor books, because they are all VERY good (Robert Allen inspired me to buy my first rental property at 21) – however, as Brad Sugars points out in “Billionaire in Training” you don’t climb the capital ladder (i.e. real estate and stocks/securities) until you’ve climbed the cash flow ladder. In other words, until you have cashflow to backup your real estate investments and securities in case of trouble, you’re wasting your time with those. I know in the instance of both my real estate investments and stocks/mutual funds I NEEDED cashflow (from my job) to cover them.

To your success, Bryan