Last week I witnessed a truly bad day for some wealthy individual. A Ferrari and a VW Golf had met by accident. By the time I drove by, nearly R3 million worth of bent, beautiful, ex-sports car was being loaded onto the back of a tow-truck, probably never again to roar from 0-100 in 3.9 seconds.
I posted a comment on Facebook and Twitter (after pulling over – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), in which I described the incident as ‘utterly heartbreaking,’ and called for a moment of silence for ‘The Mighty Fallen…’
How we view wealth
The responses I got were an interesting commentary on how people view wealth. One lady wrote that it served him right for probably driving drunk, and deigning to own a sports car in a country where the roads were not made for it. She stopped just short of calling him a racist and a child molester.
Her palpable bitterness, and that of a great many others, surprised me. With no supporting evidence, this hapless ex-Ferrari owner was presumed guilty by virtue of wealth. Couldn’t have been the Golf-driver’s fault, because common folk are apparently acceptable. Couldn’t have been a pothole in the road, either.
If I didn’t value my Facebook friends, I would have answered, “Why, that rich bastard! How dare he accumulate wealth through hard work and the application of entrepreneurial principles, then reward himself with a nice car! We should flog him, behead him, lock away his family and redistribute his wealth to less enterprising, poor people! This will surely address the imbalance his offensive existence causes in the universe and assuage your throbbing bitterness.”
But I like my friends.
Jeremy Clarkson has noticed this phenomenon too. Test-driving the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupé, he was astonished by the level of outright hatred the car received. He wrote, “I don’t yearn for many aspects of the American way but they do seem to have this dreadful bitterness under control. When they see a man pass by in a limousine, they say, ‘One day, I’ll have one of those.’ When we see a man pass by in a limo, we say, ‘One day, I’ll have him out of that.’”
The roots of wealth
The unspoken, unexamined logic seems to be that rich people obviously stole their wealth from the poor, or, alternately phrased, “I am poor because you are rich.” The logic is unfounded. In a recent New York Times article, Among the Wealthiest 1 Percent, Many Variations, authors Shaila Dewan and Robert Gebeloff give some interesting stats on the super rich inAmerica: they earn just under a fifth of the country’s pretax income, but pay just over a fourth of all federal taxes. In other words, their giving is greater than their getting.
While it’s also true that most one percenters were ‘born with socioeconomic advantages,’ they also tend to do more with what they have, working longer hours, and being ‘three times more likely than the 99% to work more than 50 hours a week.’ When all you see is the Ferrari, it’s easy to overlook such inconvenient facts.
I believe that the way we think about money not only assigns us to a social class, (If we’re PC-free enough to admit that those still exist), but also determines how much of the stuff we’ll earn. And while I don’t pretend to be an expert in personal finances, I believe that the following principles are immensely important for entrepreneurs. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that failure to grasp them could mean an absolute full-stop in the pursuit of your life’s goals. And that’s a big deal… …even if you hate Ferrari drivers.
So, here they are: the eight epiphanies about money every entrepreneur must have:
1. Hating the wealthy says more about you than it does about the wealthy
Here is a simple question: Why hate rich people? Are you able to justify your belief that they obviously slept their way to the top and stomped on the Little-Man to get there? Or was this belief handed to you by your parents? Because if it was, that’s how racism is propagated, and we’ve spent a great deal of time in this country examining that flawed belief. Could this simply be the same thing?
2. Money is not the root of all evil
The saying has been corrupted. It originates from the Bible, 1 Timothy 6:10, which actually says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” That’s very different. In and of itself, money is morally value-neutral.
3. Money is not embarrassing
And thinking that it is, or that it should be, is a limiting belief. How can you pursue growth while simultaneous feeling shame about it? How can you charge correctly if you’re embarrassed by big numbers? The workman is, after all, worthy of his wages.
In practical terms, shame and guilt will prevent you from:
- Educating yourself on the topic
- Seeking out experts and gleaning their advice on it
- Teaching others what you have learnt, thus consolidating your own level of knowledge and expertise.
- Pursuing it with any vigor, because you will view work as noble but remuneration as impure
- Set you up with a poor mindset regarding your own fees and remuneration, because you have been culturally trained to play down the worth of your industriousness.
4. You have to lose your awe of it
Unless you learn to wield it with agility – as essentially an energy source, a tool that is useful for getting things done – you will be too cautious ever to use it properly, and hence, make more of it. Money is an action, an activity, a flow to be harnessed, guided and used to your ends. Live in awe of it, fear losing it, and you will never acquire agility in using it as a tool for growth.
5. Aspiration to wealth is normal, natural and healthy
Think big and go get it! And as you do so, pay your taxes, create employment and help others. There. You’re a good person. Now get over yourself and get wealthy.
6. Your value is perceived in relation to your fee
A great many entrepreneurs actually undercharge. Position yourself as the cheap alternative, and, ironically, you might find yourself doing less business. That’s because people judge value and quality based on price, which, in turn, is why Mercedes hasn’t gone broke, in spite of its premium pricing. Don’t do miniscule profit margins. You’re only hurting yourself.
7. It’s your job to be your cash-flow advocate
Money that is due to you, but outstanding, is as good as no money at all. Problem cash-flow kills more start-up businesses and bankrupts more entrepreneurs than does an actual lack of earning.
When you earn money, it’s your job to ensure it gets into your account sooner rather than later. The person paying you is not your advocate. They have their interests, and the interests of their company, at heart. It’s your job to be your own advocate and fight for timely payment.
8. The Most Important Principle:
If more is coming in than going out, you’re getting richer. If more is going out than coming in, you’re getting poorer.
Money is merely an energy. Wealth is just a celebration of success. And yes, there’s always a mob on the sidewalk, ready to sneer at the Ferrari-drivers. But when I finally get there, the mob can sneer all it wants. I’m not sure how much it will concern me as I tool by in a gleaming Italian V10…
Here’s to your prosperity!