Starting Small is the Key to Success

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Everything big, was once small. 

Small habits lead to lifelong habits. Lifelong relationships start with a hello. While home runs in baseball get most of the glory, the vast majority of runs scored come from singles and walks. 

If you’re an entrepreneur starting a new business, you want to start small. Smart entrepreneurs always start small because they know that new businesses almost always run losses in the early years.  Smaller businesses have lower expenses. Lower expenses results in smaller losses. Smaller losses means using less of your limited working capital.

The really smart entrepreneurs start businesses on the side, while working full-time jobs. The earnings from the full-time job can help fund the side business until it begins to turn a profit.

When you start small, eventually you figure out what to do and what not to do. When you figure out what to do and what not to do, that’s when your business starts to turn a profit. If the business is profitable enough, you can leave your full-time gig and devote yourself full-time to your growing business.

Starting small is the key to success.

Success & Happiness Lie at the Intersection of Passion & Talent

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You have passion. You have talent. But do you have passion for the thing you are talented at? If the answer is yes, I can almost guarantee that you will live a life filled with enormous success and happiness.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people, their passion and their talent are divorced from one another. Too many people have a passion for something they are not very good at and too many have innate talents at doing things they have zero passion for. And that’s too bad.

Yes you can become rich and successful if you spend your entire life honing your talents. And yes you can become happy if you spend your entire life engaged in activities you are passionate about.

But in order to be successful and happy, you need both. When you marry your passion with your talent, work becomes play. At the intersection of passion and talent is success and happiness.

65% of Successful Entrepreneurs Started Their Business Part-Time

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When I decided to write my first book Rich Habits I literally had only one to two hours every morning available to me. I was running a CPA firm and had just started my financial planning practice. Plus I had three youngish kids.

One of the many things I uncovered in my Rich Habits research on self-made millionaires was that 65% had started their successful businesses on the side, while still working full-time. I decided to take a page out of their book when I wrote Rich Habits.

The only available time, for me, was in the early mornings, including Saturdays and Sundays. So, every single day for six months I got up between 4-5 am and wrote for one to two hours, did 30 minutes on my StairMaster and then headed off to work. Rich Habits would go on to become a #1 Amazon Bestseller and provided me with the morning routine template I would use for all of my subequent books. As it turns out, I’m not the only entrepreneur who built their business on a part-time basis. Many very well-known millionaires squeezed in their passion in the early morning hours:

Brian Koppelman

Koppelman is a screenwriter, novelist, director and producer. He is the co-creator and co-producer of the huge hit Billions. He also was the producer for the Illusionist, one of my favorite movies, and the co-writer of Rounders and Ocean’s Thirteen. Koppelman co-wrote Rounders with a bartender friend of his in the early mornings. He and his friend spent two hours every morning writing that screenplay before they both headed off to butter their bread.

Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner in the early mornings before he went off to his full-time job as a doctor. His book was so successful, Hosseini was able to retire from medicine to write full-time.

John Grisham

Grisham, author of numerous blockbuster books, wrote The Firm and A Time to Kill, in the early mornings before heading off to work as an attorney. The Firm initially failed as a book. Grisham stored over a thousand copies of The Firm in the trunk of his car. he eventually threw them into a dumpster. His agent suggested he write another book. So, while still working full-time as an attorney, Grisham wrote A Time to Kill. Instead of pitching the manuscript to traditional publishers, the agent sent it off to someone he knew in Hollywood. They loved the story and decided to turn it into a movie. The Hollywood executives asked the agent if Grisham had any other books. The agent sent them The Firm. When word got out that Tom Cruise signed on to the movie, The Firm quickly sold millions of copies.

Joy Gendusa

Gendusa, CEO and founder of Postcard Mania, started her business on the side, while working full-time. Postcard Mania now employs more than 200 employees and brings in more than $40 million a year in revenue

Wally Amos

You’ve probably had a Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie at some point in your life. Amos is the founder of those Famous Amos cookies. It started out as a hobby. Amos was a full-time talent agent for the William Morris Agency. In 1967, Amos left William Morris and moved to Los Angeles, where he struggled to set up his own personal management company. Burdened with the debt of his failing business, Amos began to take comfort in baking chocolate chip cookies. Using a modified recipe of his Aunt Della, he opened his first Famous Amos cookie store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1975. Within months, Amos had opened two more West Coast franchises, and the New York-based Bloomingdale’s department store began selling the his Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies, turning him into a household name.

There’s no set formula for becoming successful. Every self-made millionaire is different. But I can tell you from my research that success leaves clues. One of the clues I found was consistency. All self-made millionaires go at it every day. They are consistent and persistent. Even just one to two hours a day can turn your dream into a successful business if you develop a daily routine and stick to that routine, day in and day out.

 

 

Today You vs. Tomorrow You

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There are two you’s. There’s the Today You and there’s the Tomorrow You. The Today You is your enemy. The Tomorrow You is your greatest ally.

Today You

  • The Today You requires immediate gratification
  • The Today You is focused on the here and now
  • The Today You seeks pleasure
  • The Today You takes shortcuts, such as gambling, to get what they want
  • The Today You wants money and things now. They use credit cards and debt
  • The Today You prefers relaxation over exertion
  • The Today You likes to party
  • The Today You wants to sleep in
  • The Today You does not want to exercise
  • The Today You does not want to eat healthy
  • The Today You does not want to read to learn
  • The Today You does not want to work long hours
  • The Today You likes to spend money now
  • The Today You has no dreams or goals
  • The Today You has bad habits

Tomorrow You

  • The Tomorrow You requires delayed gratification
  • The Tomorrow You is focused on the future
  • The Tomorrow You forgoes pleasure
  • The Tomorrow You invests in themselves today for future rewards
  • The Tomorrow You avoids going into debt
  • The Tomorrow You eats right every day
  • The Tomorrow You exercises every day
  • The Tomorrow You works long hours in the pursuit of their dreams and goals
  • The Tomorrow You has good habits

There is a war raging inside each one of us between the Today You and the Tomorrow You. You get to decide who wins that war. For most, the Today You wins most of the time. But for a few, the Tomorrow You wins most of the time.

The Today you will make your poor, unhealthy, unhappy and unfulfilled. The Tomorrow You will make you rich, healthy, happy and fulfilled.

 

Pessimism Can Kill You and How to Boost Optimism

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In November 2016, the journal BMC Public Heath, published a study conducted in Finland over an eleven year period.  The study included 2,267 men and women. 121 of those men and women, who were identified as more pessimistic than the rest of the group, had died of coronary heart disease during the study’s eleven-year period.

The study concluded that pessimists were less inclined to healthy lifestyles and that optimists were more inclined towards healthier lifestyles. The study also found that pessimism impairs your immune system, while optimism, boosts your immune system.

So, in an effort to extend your life, I’d like to share some strategies to help boost optimism:

  • Every day express gratitude for three things that went right yesterday. Gratitude is the gateway to optimism, so expressing gratitude every day acts like a force field, pushing pessimism to the side.
  • Volunteer for some noble cause a few hours every week. I have a treasure trove of studies that indicate volunteering fosters a positive mental outlook by releasing oxytocin, a feel good hormone.
  • Eat more vegetables. We have two brains – the one in our head and our Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS is a complex system of about 100 million nerves found in the lining of the gut (small and large intestines). Inside this system are trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms. By eating more vegetables (and also berries, nuts, seeds, olive oil, beans, cauliflower and yogurt), you are feeding your gut with good bacteria. There are many Gut-Brain studies which show that healthy eating reduces the effects of stress, depression and pessimism by increasing the number of good bacteria inside the gut.
  • Exercise aerobically, 20 – 30 minutes every day. Aerobic exercise increases the release of endorphins, another feel good hormone. Aerobic exercise also reduces stress. Stress is the gateway to negativity and pessimism.
  • Stop Multitasking. Multitasking taxes the brain. According to a University London study, multitasking impairs brain function by sapping the brain of energy (glucose) and this has a particularly negative effect on the emotional center of the brain (amygdala).
  • Express love and compassion. This results in the release of oxytocin, a feel good hormone.

 

 

Revenge Can Be a Great Motivator

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Michael Jordan is a famed basketball legend. To this day he is considered the common standard of comparison used by basketball pundits around the world. His name has entered the lexicon of everyday language: “He or she is the Michael Jordan of neurosurgery,” or ” he or she is the Michael Jordan of accountants,” or “he or she is the Michael Jordan of teachers.”

As a freshman at Laney High School, Michael Jordan was cut from their High School basketball team. For most, that would have been the end of the story. But for Michael Jordan, being cut from the team only spurred him on to become a better basketball player. He used that failure, being cut from the team, as a motivator, not as a deterrent.

The vast majority, when they fail at something, put their tail between their legs and move on to something else. Great achievers, however, use failure as a motivator. Failure inspires and motivates high achievers to improve and better themselves.

In order to achieve at the highest levels you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Failure and mistakes are very uncomfortable experiences. Those who excel in life are able to channel the negative emotions they experience in defeat as a catalyst to spur them on. Instead of accepting defeat, high achievers double down and work harder to prove to the world they are not failures. They use revenge to prove those who rejected them wrong. Revenge can be a great motivator.

 

You Are Just One Break Away

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“I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night” – Ray Kroc

One of the self-made millionaires in my study owned and operated a number of retail clothing and faux jewelry stores.  There were parts of her business she loved, such as creating new product lines or talking to customers. But that only accounted for about 20% of her time. The other 80% was grinding it out stuff – managing retail staff, accounting for income and expenses, or paying bills. She hated the grind part of her business.

In order to get her through her day, she told me that she had a mantra she kept repeating to herself for fifteen years, while she was growing her business. “I’m just one break away.”

She had a dream that one day she would catch a big break which would change her life. What that one big break was, she didn’t know. She said she just had this deep down gut feeling that if she kept working hard and was smart about running her business, one day she would get lucky and catch a big break.

Eventually that big break came along when a large competitor decided to buy her business. It was a life-changing event. Her ship did come in, after being out to sea for fifteen years.

I heard many similar stories from the self-made millionaires I interviewed. Sixty-one percent were business owners. All grinding it out day after day, year after year. All hoping that one day their hard work, financial investment and persistence would pay off with some big break. They were part of my study because their big break did come along. They kept grinding it out until they got lucky.

As an author of five books now, I can tell you I know exactly how those self-made millionaires felt. Eighty percent of the author business is a grind. Every day I have to do certain things I don’t necessarily like, such as pitching the media or editing a book or an article. I don’t like pitching the media because 99.99999999998% of the time they ignore me. And I hate editing my own writing because, well, it’s grunt work. I have to look for typos, figure out if a comma is needed or analyze my sentence structure so that I don’t come off sounding like Rocky Balboa. I just hate the grind, the 80% of the business.

But, I love that 20% – the writing. So, like the self-made millionaires in my study, I grind it out every day in order to do what I love. And like that retail self-millionaire who got lucky, I keep telling myself every day, “I’m just one break away.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Rich Deserve to be Rich

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The other morning I was dressing for work and caught an interview on Good Morning America of E. L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was somewhat shocked when the host highlighted the fact that James’ book had sold 165 million books worldwide. As I pondered that thought, my shock was replaced by dismay. It dawned on me that so many people only read for entertainment and not to learn.

The rich are rich because they don’t do what the 99% do. This 1% does not read Fifty Shades of Grey. They don’t read Harry Potter either, which has sold over 450 million books worldwide. What they do read are books that educate. According to my research on the wealthy:

  • 85% read two or more books a month for education and learning purposes
  • 63% listened to educational audio books during their commute to work
  • 88% read 30 minutes or more each day for purposes of education and learning
  • 58% read biographies of famous successful people
  • 51% read history books
  • 55% read self-help books

Only 11% of the rich read for entertainment purposes compared to 79% of the poor. Billionaires like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg devote many hours a day to reading for purposes of learning.

In short, the rich deserve to be rich because they put in the work that success requires. And part of that work is reading to learn. If you only read for entertainment, you are one of the 99%. If you read to learn, you are doing what the top 1% do.

Success isn’t easy. It’s a process that requires doing certain things every day that help move you forward in life towards realizing your dreams and achieving the goals behind those dreams. Part of that process requires that you read every day for at least thirty minutes solely for purposes of self-education. If you ignore part of the process, the entire process breaks down.

 

The Key to Financial Success – Business Ownership

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Every year the Internal Revenue Service issues a report that shares data on the top 400 taxpayers. This report focuses on those returns with the largest Adjusted Gross Income. In 2014, you needed $126.8 million to make it on their list. Here’s how the top 400 made their money:

  • 4.47% – Wages & Salaries
  • 4.24% – Interest Income
  • 10.89% Dividends
  • 16.24% – Profits from Partnerships and Corporations
  • 65.16% – Capital Gains

Most of the capital gains were the result of selling all or part of some business interest owned by the taxpayers. When you combine the last three categories, this equals 92.29%. This 92.29% is income derived from business ownership.  Owning an interest in a business, either as a stockholder, partner or sole proprietor, was the key to accumulating most of their wealth.

The odds of getting rich are stacked against those who derive their income from wages, since only 4.47% of the wealth of those in the report, became rich from their wages.

If you want to get rich, you must do what wealthy people do. They invest in businesses or create their own business. Since 80% or more of the wealthy come from poverty or the middle-class, this means you must either save enough money to invest in some business or you must create something on the side, some side business.

If you’re a great saver and want to become rich, you must take a risk with your savings by investing it in some business that will generate dividends, profits or capital gains upon the sale of your investment.

If you’re not a great saver, this means you must take a risk and invest your time and whatever money you do have in some business that will generate dividends, profits or capital gains upon it’s sale.

Either way, you must take risk in order to become rich and that risk typically involves some business investment.

 

One Task at a Time

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I recently read a story about famed coach Nick Saban. Saban has won five national championships. Four at Alabama and one at LSU. This makes him the most successful active coach in college football. His secret to success is something he calls, The Process.

One of Saban’s signature wins took place while he was the head coach at Michigan State. They were pitted against No. 1 Ohio State. Prior to the game, Saban instructed his team to forget about winning or losing and to instead focus on one play at a time. Michigan State went on to defeat Ohio State 28-24 and that win introduced the world to The Process.

The Process requires that you shift your focus away from the outcome you desire, your dream, to the action steps that will produce the outcome you desire. Define your dream, create action steps around your dream, or tasks, and then single-mindedly focus all of your attention on each individual task, one at a time.

It’s great to have dreams. Dreams, when taken together, represent the blueprint of the life you desire. But in order for those dreams to come true, you must focus on the individual tasks that, when accomplished, will transform those dreams into reality. Focus on one task at a time and don’t worry about the outcome.