Easy Money

Start your own business: Steps 1-5

1. Start your own business. Before you glance at the cover of Business Start-Ups and say "Duh," consider the insight of author Robert Kiyosaki, a multimillionaire who penned Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not (Techpress, $15.95, 800-308-3585). Among other books with similar themes, he states: "The IRS has no interest in your business failing . . . the tax codes are set up for entrepreneurs, not their employees. The government rewards those who risk their own money."

After all, observes Kiyosaki, the government wants your business to become filthy rich. If your company brings in $500 million a year, the government's tax pot will be a lot sweeter than if you're bringing in a measley $50,000. So if you've already started your own business, you're well on your way to being a millionaire. If you haven't begun your business and are hesitating, then . . . well, I hear Gap is hiring.

2. Have a millionaire mind-set. Think goal-setting. If you want to be a millionaire, you have to decide it's your destiny. "I'd say one of the key components to becoming a millionaire is to have a laser-like focus on your goals," says Brian Koslow, who is a management/marketing consultant and a personal development coach to doctors and business owners in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He's also the author of 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire (Without Being Born One) (Penguin/Putnam, $10.95, 212-366-2000).

"Millionaires are not easily distracted," observed Koslow when we chatted over the phone a few months ago. "For instance, if a bomb went off during this interview, I doubt I would even notice."

Luckily, that didn't happen (either that, or we just didn't notice). He adds, however, "Having a millionaire mindset means [you're] always listening--always have your ear tuned for opportunities. For example, when I buy a company, I always look at how the company can be rather than what it's like now."

3. Surround yourself with experts. As attorney Ron Goldie says: "The sign of a successful entrepreneur is that he or she is the decision-maker, but I think it's imperative that entrepreneurs have at least one professional who knows everything there is to know--one who can give them an independent assessment of the obstacles ahead.

"Every highly successful person I know of has at least one person they can turn to who knows the difference between the hype and the reality of what's actually going on," finishes Goldie, a senior partner at the Los Angeles law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp. Goldie would think that, of course. He gets paid to dispense financial legal advice to millionaires and vividly remembers one colleague who didn't listen to him--and lost $40 million on a business deal.

Several others interviewed also stressed the importance of having trusted colleagues to consult. "Hire a team of people who are smarter than you," stresses Kiyosaki, echoing the sentiments spoken by almost everyone interviewed here. Kiyosaki says that team would likely include an ace accountant, an attorney, brokers and public relations personnel.

Even if you can't initially afford all those people, you still have options. Bounce your ideas off a trusted friend or relative--someone who has your best interests at heart. And you can always offer a bit of ownership in your company to some of your employees, says Michele McGeoy, a Berkeley, California, entrepreneur who recently became a millionaire when she sold her second company for a little over $2 million. Her third and current company, R.H. Solutions (http://www.rhsolutions.com), develops database computer software and tools to help organizations manage business relationships.

"Get people who have the expertise--and give them a piece of the pie," says McGeoy. "There's ownership at stake: The bigger the pie [grows], the bigger each piece [gets]." It's a good deal for you and your key employees: After all, if you want to hire smart people, remember that smart people won't work for beans.

If your company is so strapped that a piece of your pie doesn't look appetizing to brilliant experts, solicit free advice from people you admire, suggests Larry Waschka, who wrote The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Rich (Alpha Books, $18.95, 800-428-5331). "Find the people who are the best at what they do, call them, compliment them, and ask if you can pick their brain. Obviously, if they're the competition, that may not work. But if you compliment an expert and marvel at what they do, nine times out of 10, they'll invite you over."

4. "Have an unshaken belief in yourself," says Koslow, adding: "If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will." Ack, gag me with a Mary Poppins DVD.

Sure, we've all heard this sugary-sweet-saccharine pep talk before, and it seems awfully predictable at first: Oooh! Look, Ma, I feel good about myself. Presto. I'm a millionaire! But Koslow lays out an example of how feeling good can lead you to the good life: "[Self-confidence is] going to be reflected in the fees you're charging. For instance, if you're a consultant, it might be the difference between charging $75 an hour and asking the client to pay $200 or $300. Often, the only difference between the services is that the one who charges the higher fee has an enormous amount of self-esteem." And feeling like a loser can cause you to lose money in other ways, asserts Koslow. "If you don't believe in yourself, the person on the other side of the table will notice." Question yourself, and watch your million-dollar deals disappear faster than a David Copperfield trick.

5. Bargain-hunt. Yes, even millionaires save money. How do you think they got to be millionaires in the first place? As Rusty White says, "There are two steps to making money: First, you generate it, and more importantly, [inexpensively] buy the product that you're reselling, so you've got a large margin of profit." White would probably know what he's talking about. He's more than the founder and former publisher of The Robb Report; he's the publisher of Millionaire magazine, both being publications for the rich and affluent, which White is. Located in Hilton Head, South Carolina, he's worth $40 million. So while you're figuring out how to get White to adopt you, consider saving money wherever you can--and spending it wisely. Which brings us to Step 6.

Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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