Friday, March 27, 2009

Every SMB Consultant Should Be Rich

I just finished by morning meditation.

If you ask me how I got where I am today, I'll tell you that the most important element of my success has been the habit of sitting quietly in a chair for 20 minutes a day and having absolute clarity about the "big picture" so I can stay completely focused.

This habit -- daily quiet time, or reflection, or meditation -- made me rich.

It's funny. 98% of the people who ask me about that immediately dismiss it and want to know what else I did. They want the result without the most important step.

You may have heard me tell an audience this:

If you set aside morning quiet time and take 15-20 minutes every single day for 30 days, it will change your life. I'll put that in writing. Oops. Just did.

There are many reasons why this works.

Perhaps the most important is that you have time to figure out why you do what you do. Once there's a why, then the doing is much easier.

One of my favorite books is the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Gerber is perhaps the most famous proponent of the phrase "Work ON your business, not IN your business."

What does that look like? Well, you probably guessed that it doesn't look like running around from job to job, eating in your car, never seeing your family, and filling your life with stress until midnight -- then doing it again.

Awhile back I was in a meeting and one of the members mentioned that he had perfected his 30 second elevator speech. Another guy asked "What is it?" The first guy said he didn't have it memorized.

A lot of us do that with our so-called goals.

We say our family comes first, but we have no idea what that means. We do nothing to improve our family life, personal life, or marriage life. Nothing. We exist. We go through the motions every day.

We say we want our business to go to the next level, but we do nothing to change it. We do the same thing every day, every week, and every month, hoping it will get better.

If you don't like where your business is, more of the same is NOT better.

There are two kinds of riches you can attain in very short order. First, there's a value-filled life that will give you an anchor to hold on to no matter what happens. This has a side benefit of making you a happier person, in a happier marriage, with a happier family, and lots of positive relationships. That's true richness.

Then there's money. Money is approximately the easiest thing in the world to acquire. You live in a world of money. It floats by us all the time. All we have to do is figure out how to reach out and earn our share.

Many people -- maybe most people -- eventually figure out how to get more money. But they do so without considering the riches that matter and that are more long-lasting.

When your house goes down 50% in value, and the stock market goes down 50% in value, and the bank reduces your credit limit every time you make a payment, you learn how easily money comes and goes.

And here's the really sad part: If you just spent ten years ignoring your family and building a fragile nest egg that can disappear in a flash, you're going to feel pretty darn helpless. Life will seem pointless. And your children will still be ten years older.

I take it as a "given" that I will be financially wealthy. Then I focus my life on the big picture that really matters. The money will come. At least in the computer business, it will come. It can't help itself.

So there are two sides to the "Riches" story.

First, you need to take quiet time every day, figure out what really matters in your life, and learn to focus on what's really important every single day.

Second, you need to change your life to reflect the values you now identify. That means NOT working until late at night. That means putting your family first and your business second -- where it belongs.

"Everyone" says they agree with that, but almost no one practices it.

I can't tell you how many emails I receive from people at 11 PM or 3 AM. It's shocking to me that people do this and think they'll get ahead. You'll get an ulcer, but you won't get ahead.

You'll make a little money, but you won't get wealthy. You can't. You're limiting yourself by believing in the Myth of Horsepower. (See "Working on Workaholism).

It is pointless to come into work every day, every week, every month, and work really hard without a big picture. If all you do is bang your head against the handful of emergencies that came up today, you will never get ahead. Because there is no "ahead." There is only the same daily grind with no larger purpose and no measure of success.

Money: Here's How to Get Rich. If you've read this far, it's probably because you want the secret to becoming the OTHER kind of rich -- becoming wealthy.

If you're in the computer business, becoming financially wealthy is very simple. I didn't say easy. You will have to work very hard (between 8AM and 5PM). But you can absolutely do it.

You see, when you exist in an industry flowing with money, you don't have to figure out where the money is. It's all around you. You can literally reach out and grab it.

Then you have to control your cash flow and Pay Yourself First. What does that mean? That means to put a little money into investments every month.

Control your lifestyle or it will control you!

Once you begin working normal business hours, focus will come very quickly.

When you're in a business with $100/hour rates, there is NO excuse not to be wealthy. The only thing that can keep you from being wealthy in the next three years is your personal spending habits.

Buy what you need, not what you want. Put the difference into your house payments.

Buy what your business needs, not what you want. Put the difference into the stock market.

Drive a Toyota instead of a Volvo and put the difference toward your bills. Pack your lunch and put the extra $100/month into car payments.

If you want a "night job" buy a rental unit and become a property manager. There are few faster paths to wealth than owning real estate.

When you make $100/hour or more, there is no excuse for not paying off your debts. There's no excuse for not making extra car payments. There's no excuse for not making a slightly higher mortgage payment.

STOP scheming about how you can work more hours on some project that will just lead to spending more fruitless hours.

- - - - -


First, Adopt a daily habit of spending quiet time in meditation or quiet time.

(If you don't do this, skip the rest. You will never be rich.)

Second, limit your work hours to 8-10 hours per day. This is essential to practicing the values that will emerge from step one. You have to have a life -- with hobbies and friends and all that stuff.

Third, make an effort to understand all the money that flows in, to, from, and around your personal and business life. Make changes that move you toward a goal of wealth.

Luckily, a down economy is absolutely the best time to get started. Interest rates are down. Houses are on sale. Stocks are 40% off. Every dollar you squirrel away in the next two years will double or triple in the next five.

When you get to $5,000 in your Roth IRA, open a regular stock account. Don't watch it every day, but check in once a week. You don't have to be Silas Marner, but it's okay to take pleasure and price as your nest egg works it's way up to $10K, $20k, and $100k.

I used to assume that every computer consultant who had been in this business for ten years was a millionaire. I have learned in the last few years that that's not true.

It should be true.


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  1. Great post Karl!

    When you talk about the big picture, do you mean like thinking 5 years ahead, vision of the company etc? Or is it more in the context of how the business and the family relate to one another?

    You''re right though not many do this.

  2. Thanks, John.

    I think there's the big picture for your life. If you own a business, it has a big picture (e.g., the next five years).

    But the business big picture is a subset of the personal big picture.

    Just as the family big picture is a subset of the personal big picture.

    And the community commitment big picture is a subset of the personal big picture.

    In the end, we're a lot less fragmented if there's continuity between the various roles we play in life.

  3. I don't think buying what you need instead of what you want is in any way how rich people think or work.

    I buy what I want and it motivates me to create the money I need.

    I definatley would never consider driving a Volvo in-place of my Porsche just to save money. Sure the Porsche is expensive, but its incredibly enjoyable.

    In my view, money is for making, not for saving. If I were working to buy what I needed I would only work a couple of days a month.

  4. Paulie, if you can create the wealth to pay for what you want, then you should do that.

    I know from experience that most of the people I work with are not at that point yet. As for how wealthy people think, everyone should read "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko.

    Most people who buy what they want and then hope to earn the enough to pay for it end up with a house they can't afford, a car they can't afford, and nothing in the bank when they grow old.

    A huge piece oof our nationwide economic problems is due to people who spent more than they were earning and assumed they could life forever on the cash flow from what they were doing.

  5. Holy dumbshit batman ;)

    "I buy what I want and it motivates me to create the money I need."

    Oh really? What if you end up in a car accident and have to spend 2 months in a hospital? And you just weren't quite so motivated initially to pay down your insurance ahead of time and instead chose the installment plan.

    Apply to any other service/good/product, you get the same result.


  6. As for how rich people think... being one of them...

    I buy stuff because I like it and I can afford to pay for it. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it.

    The poor people are taught to get as excessively into the debt as possible so they have to be stuck in their jobs until the day after they die. This keeps a motivated workforce readily available for remedial tasks that would not be otherwise possible.

    But WTF do I know.



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