10 things I wish I had known 15 years ago

We live in a changing world. What do I wish I had known 15 years ago, that would have helped my income and wealth?

1.Anybody can get rich investing

It only requires a middle-income or better, decent spending habits and excellent investment discipline – market timing and most forms of stock picking don’t work.

2. People won’t steal and implement ideas

Many people are paranoid about sharing ideas. They assume that the world is full of proactive types, who will suddenly steal their lunch. It isn’t true.

The world is actually full of procrastinators and people who are resistant to change. Most people will just appreciate that you are giving, rather than just focusing on taking.

3. Forget about industry norms

Norms mean normal. Normal actions will lead to normal results. Extraordinary results require breaking norms.

4. Older people in an industry won’t always outperform

Wisdom comes with age, right? Well yes, but as Buffett has said many times, lifelong learning is key. What was relevant in 1970 didn’t always work in 2012. What works in 2019 might not work so well in 2020, or 2030.

And besides, many older workers struggle to adapt to changing times or are obsessed with industry norms.

A small percentage break this mould. They are worth their weight in gold as mentors. They are experienced and have adapted themselves.

5. Business is not best done face-to-face

Everybody knows that business online is cheaper for the consumer. Faster. More efficient.

Safer in fact, because an online business is less likely to go bust. Despite these facts, many people in countless industries, still preach that business is best done face to face.

We live in unprecedented times. The internet has been around for decades now, but most people only used the computer for word and excel documents in 1999-2000.

Even in 2003-2007, many people had slow internet connections. People who bought online only tended to use big brands like eBay.

I remember even as late as 2009, a family member commented to me that she wouldn’t trust an online bank!

Seems like a generation ago, but it was only 10 years ago. The fact is, that in the last 5-10 years, people are doing more and more online.

The first thing that most people do is Google now, and look for online recommendations.

People want credibility, safety, speed and traceability. They don’t want loads of wasted time.

6. Anything can work and this leads to confirmation bias

Many experienced people in all industries, have struggled to adapt to the last point. They still cling to the idea that business is best done face-to-face.

They go to the same events, and use the same business tactics. One reason for this is confirmation bias.

What do I mean by that? Everything can, and does work, from time to time. Even techniques that are clearly not efficient or sensible, like mass emailing and spamming people, may occasionally work.

It is very true that some people still prefer face-to-face in business. That is irrelevant. What is relevant is, what are the net results?

Let me give you a simple example. A real estate agent who is making $200,000 a year, makes some changes.

They save time by doing business online. They eventually generate $400,000, and give the client cheaper services, due to the lower costs.

So business has doubled. Does that mean that 100% of people are happy with the new approach, and they haven’t lost one sale from the new approach? Of course not, but in net terms, business is better.

Conversely, what happens with many experienced people who are resistant to change, is they think about a specific client.

Oh George, he would never do business remotely! Some clients, like George, will always want face-to-face!

But again, that is irrelevant. Just because you miss out on some pieces of business, does not mean that the net results are bad.

7. Credibility isn’t always related to size

We live in changing times. People are more cynical about big companies, and big business.

I, for one, would much prefer to deal with an individual or a boutique firm with specialist knowledge, than a big corporation.

I don’t want to feel like customer number 10,240. I want to feel I am important, as a customer, to the business I am dealing with.

I also don’t want to deal with anybody who uses business cards, wears ties or has a corporate act. Many people feel the same.

8. You don’t have to be all things to all people

As I pointed out in a previous blog, defining the ideal client is key. For me, the ideal client sees the benefits of efficient and online communication.

They are trustworthy, trusting and want to invest for the long-term, as opposed to the short-term.

9. Nobody cares

People out there don’t care about your qualifications, or how you are dressed. Or anything else. Nor do they care about me.

They are just thinking, what’s in it for me? Most of my clients want good and safe long-term returns. They want speed and convenience. They want regular communication. They don’t want loads of paperwork.

I want the same things when I am the consumer. I wouldn’t even notice if the waiter at the hotel has holes in their shoes…..and nor would you.

And yet so many people are worried about putting on an act for others in business, going through pointless rituals.

10. Ideas don’t matter

Execution matters. Everybody has millionaire ideas. Making them happen is what counts.

Ideas, moreover, don’t sell themselves. Nor do great products or services. Does Apple create the best laptops?

No, but they make the process easy for the customer. They know how to market, brand and sell.

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