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The One Habit of Self-Made Millionaires

Master the trait that separates the millionaires from the middle class.

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The more time Lewis Schiff spent speaking about the seven behaviors of highly successful entrepreneurs from his book Business Brilliant, the more he became struck with a startling revelation. It occurred to him one of the seven best practices was far more important that the rest. “It is the one habit I find over and over again that is present in every single successful self-made millionaire I study,” Schiff said at the Propelify Innovation Festival in Hoboken, N.J.

Related: 10 Money Habits That Will Help You Get Serious About Prosperity

It’s a habit that any one of us can do, and it’s completely available and accessible to everyone. Adopting this habit can help us make defining decisions about our careers. When applied with rigor, it can make the difference between achieving a high net worth and struggling to keep up with the middle class. And it’s the same trait Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both named when asked to write down a single word they would credit for their success. The word is focus.

Watch the full video of Lewis Schiff’s talk at Propelify:

Schiff, who has been analyzing and studying the world’s most successful business people for more than 15 years, shares the three questions that led him to identify this powerful habit and why so many of us fail to adopt it. The questions, asked in a survey to self-made entrepreneurs of varying net worth — ranging from less than a million to those with more than 30 million — provide illuminating insight into how the mindset of millionaires sets them apart from the middle class. Try asking yourself these questions to see which end of the spectrum you’re on. Are you focusing like the middle-class or like a millionaire?

1. Do you know what you are exceptionally good at that makes you money?

Just 55 percent of Schiff’s “middle-class” survey respondents — categorized as those with a net worth of less than 1 million — even had an answer for this question. Compare that to the 97 percent of the “ultra-high net worth” group — those with a net worth of more than 30 million — that were aware of their exceptional skills. Schiff calls this “learning your language,” and it’s an incredibly important first step in the quest for success. “You’re probably exceptional at something but you don’t know it, because it comes so easily to you, so you do not properly value this skill. You don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said. “In fact every great success story I’ve ever studied has identified that exceptional quality and turned it into their business.”

2. Write down areas where you’re exceptional. How many did you write down?

Again, a telling pattern emerged. “Unbelievably the lowest net worth people in our community had the greatest number of things that they thought they were excellent at. As levels of wealth go up, the number of things you think you’re exceptional at goes down.” The middle class survey respondents, those with the lowest net worth, wrote down an average of six things. The ultra-high net worth group? Two.

Related: 8 Tips To Become A Millionaire This Year

3. Do you work to get better at things you’re not exceptional at?

Schiff saw that as levels of wealth go up, this answer was increasingly “no.” Fifty-eight percent of the middle-class group said yes, they do work to get better at their weaknesses. By the time you get to the ultra-high net worth group, zero percent of survey respondents spend any time working on their weaknesses. Tied together, the survey questions paint a clear picture of the differing approach of the middle class and the self-made millionaires.

Here you have the middle class which has six behaviors that they think they’re exceptional at in the workplace, plus with all their free time, they’re working to get good at everything else. You can immediately see, compared to those with ultra-high net worth, who are good at only two things and spend no time trying to get good at everything, how that creates an opportunity to focus that can create success.  – Lewis Schiff

The challenge, Schiff argues, is not so much understanding that focus is the secret to success but understanding what prevents us from focusing. Why does the middle-class spend so much time diffusing their interests? Schiff attributes this to the conventional wisdom instilled in us from an early age by well-meaning parents, teachers and bosses. We’re encouraged to work on our weaknesses, be well-rounded, earn straight As in all our classes, and otherwise diffuse our focus from the day we are born. As the self-made millionaires figured out early on, bucking convention to singularly focus on what you do exceptionally may make the difference in achieving the success of your dreams.

How have you learned to focus? Tweet @lewisschiff and @letspropel, and let us know. For more from the Propelify Innovation Festival, visit the website.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com

Aaron Price is the founder and CEO of Propelify where idle ideas don't fly and innovators unite. The Propelify Innovation Festival unites thousands of innovators to celebrate what’s new and create what’s next with talks, exhibitors, drones, virtual reality, investors, music, and more. Aaron is also the founder of the award winning NJ Tech Meetup, the state's largest technology and entrepreneurial community with over 6000 members.

Personal Finance

(Infographic) The Financial Advice Millennials And Gen Zers Want To Know

Having a grasp on your financials is tricky, but it’s crucial if you want to be successful. And that starts with getting the right advice.

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Whether it’s saving for retirement or paying off credit card debt, money management can be a challenge. Of course, different people have different concerns – and that often comes with age. While a 60-something baby boomer might be organising their savings for retirement, your 20-something millennial might be focused on paying off student loans.

In a recent study, financial intelligence company Comet surveyed more than 1 000 people to uncover the top financial concerns of various age groups, as well as the financial advice millennials and Gen Zers want to know and what they hear instead.

Overall, saving for retirement was the top concern across all age groups, with saving for an emergency and affording monthly bills following in second and third. However, it’s no wonder these are some of the most pressing worries – according to the research, 23 percent of people admit they don’t have a savings account, and 43 percent reported not being on track towards their retirement goals. Perhaps that’s because they didn’t hear the right advice growing up. At least that might be the case for Gen Zers and millennials.

According to the research, these young people want to learn things such as how the stock market works, how to manage an investment portfolio, how to invest in real estate and how to build credit. Instead, they’re simply told how to create a budget, save for retirement and pay credit card bills in full every month.

Related: 7 Critical Things Your Financial Advisor Must Meet

Having a grasp on your financials is tricky, but it’s crucial if you want to be successful and comfortable. To learn more, check out Comet’s infographic below.

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Related: Financial Wellness Coach Nelisiwe Masango Shares Retirement Wealth Advice

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Personal Finance

14 Ways To Make Quick Cash On The Side

If you need money quickly, here are some solid ideas.

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Need to make some fast money on the side, whether it’s to pay off a credit card or to make your rent?

Keep in mind, making quick side cash isn’t about making a lot of money or getting rich. It’s about getting a shot of capital to help tide you over and put something extra in your pocket. However, some of these side-income ideas can build up your wealth over time. There’s many ways to accomplish this: By participating in the gig economy, the sharing economy, online sales networks, passive income techniques and more.

If you’re looking to make extra money in a relatively short period of time, check out these 14 slides.

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Personal Finance

Take Advantage Of Financial Democracy Made Possible By The New Stock Exchanges

Why should financial democracy matter to entrepreneurs?

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Because it creates a society able to afford products and services. Without it, even the innovative products and services that are entrepreneurs’ bread and butter will fail.

What is financial democracy, exactly?

It’s both the right and the ability of the (wo)man in the street and business people to make the decisions that affect their financial circumstances.

Financial democracy does not automatically follow political democracy. For almost 25 years after South Africa’s political transformation, the exclusiveness of our financial markets continued to deprive the vast majority of South Africans of the means to invest, save, and build wealth. South Africa has, therefore, never developed a retail stock exchange environment. So, it has deprived the majority of small and medium sized business of access to capital.

For entrepreneurs to truly flourish, they need a mechanism that easily and seamlessly connects the investor pool with every size of business. And, they need affordable ways to enter both the retail and institutional market.

In short, they need stock exchanges. Ones on which listing takes weeks rather than years, doesn’t break the bank for listing fees, and provides the shortest route to the largest possible potential investor base.

That’s not been possible in the stock exchange monopoly that existed for six decades. Now, it is.

What’s changed?

We now have four new stock exchanges. The resulting competitive environment will significantly reduce the cost of listing – and the cost for investors of buying and selling shares.

Instead of restricting share trading to people or organisations who already have tens of thousands of rands to invest or millions to spend on listing, by licensing four new stock exchanges, the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA, formerly the FSB) has recognised that most financial decisions do not call for high levels of education.

Related: The Role Of Foreign Exchange In The Economy

Most people know how to spend their own grocery money. Most know that it’s better to keep their R1 000 monthly income in a coffee jar than spend R50 of it on bank account fees. People who can barely read and write are immensely skillful at manipulating air time deals to their advantage.

There is significant financial savvy in all social strata.

In the same way, although the mechanics of bookkeeping and accounting may be unfamiliar territory to many entrepreneurs, most have a clear understanding of the difference between profit and loss.

The FSCA has therefore enabled democratisation of the financial markets by enabling the broadest possible spectrum of entrepreneurs and investors to use stock exchanges to participate in and contribute to the economy – on their own rather than prescriptive terms.

How do you take strategic advantage of this democratisation?

  1. Base your business strategy on people’s instinct for making decisions in their own best interests. Trust financial decentralisation, such as one sees in crowd funding and in digital environments such as block chain, where people would far rather trust one another than institutions and governments. This is democracy innately at work in the financial environment and it’s accelerating organically as digital technologies give people more means and the confidence to help themselves – to information and opportunities. Ride the wave.
  2. Tap into people’s desire to innovate. Consumer organisations have proved that letting people interactively help them develop products is a powerful growth engine. Apply the principle by letting people grow your business by buying shares in it, giving you capital and themselves a platform on which to build wealth.
  3. Remember, the ultimate loyalty reward is equity.

Your financial democracy business plan

Look to list on an entrepreneurial stock exchange; one that was founded by entrepreneurs on entrepreneurial principles.

That means: A stock exchange that is already built on financial democracy and decentralisation. One that has, at its core, a single operational concept that keeps things simple for you, automatically gives you an immediate competitive advantage, and, ensures that no matter what your business needs in terms of attracting capital, the exchange can provide all the options in the same, consistent way.

What does such an exchange look like?

It has fintech capabilities. So:

It slashes your listing costs. It achieves this, among other things, by enabling you to populate an electronic prospectus, demonstrating your financial viability, and self publish.

It gives you control by having the granularity and agility to impose relevant governance right down to the individual investor. You get to decide the types and quantities of investors you want to attract. This also enables you to achieve black economic empowerment in perpetuity.

It leads the world by clearing and settling trades in T+0. No-one in the value chain has to hold large sums of money for days following a transaction. Small transactions become profitable. Investors don’t have to risk their life savings on a single large trade. A retail market is opened. An investment and savings culture is entrenched. The economy expands. Your business grows steadily.

It enables anywhere, any time trading via a mobile app that allows investors to see share value in real time. See economy expansion point above.

It integrates processes and procedures, simplifying them and ensuring rapid onboarding of issuers and, therefore, speed to market with new concepts and alignment with the digital economy.

It operates a principles-based regime. So:

It treats you, as an executive, with respect. It’s not prescriptive. It does not insist on excessive oversight, allowing the Companies Act to guide you to sustainability.

It does not attempt to squeeze your company into a pre-defined business or listings format. It recognises and works with your uniqueness.

It obviates the need for expensive specialist listings advisors.

It focuses on financial inclusion and access. So:

Shares can be bought and sold for no more than R1 000. See economy building point above.

Related: 27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

The new world of stock exchanges is integrated, synergistic, holistic, organic, self-fulfilling

Decentralisation of financial control, democratisation of opportunity leads to a whole new economy. One in which, for instance, a taxi operator can finance a minibus through a company in which his purchase gives him shares. A single purchase gives him two benefits: a vehicle on which to found his business and a longer-term investment in shares that he can trade. The funding company gains liquidity through access to a wider base of investors while being able to control who buys and sells and the conditions on which trading takes place. Increasing black equity in business becomes an organic, natural, self-perpetuating process.

Everyone wins in a decentralised, democratised financial market. And it’s the stock exchanges that drive the process.

As an entrepreneur, can you afford to ignore the acceleration that listing could give your business growth?

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