I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 299.3 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:
- Is the entrepreneurial path the only fast way to wealth? Is doing business actually a fast lane (like The Millionaire Fastlane book describes) or does it take time? In particular, is starting a business always a better approach than the “get-rich-slow” through investing route?
- What is something useful I didn’t learn at school apart from financial planning?
- How can you be a successful investor with zero knowledge? Is it even possible, or should everybody just outsource it to an expert in finance?
- If everybody had the same knowledge as wealthier people, would we all naturally grow wealthy? I explain why that is unlikely, even though knowledge is power and very useful.
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Is the entrepreneurial path the only fast way to wealth? Is doing business actually a fast lane (like The Millionaire Fastlane book describes) or does it take time?
Yes and no.
Let me explain
Firstly, the vast majority of businesses are started by people with experience in their industry.
Few are started by 18, 20, or 22-year-olds. The media just likes to speak about those cases.
They do exist but they are more likely in a new, frontier, technology, or market.
One of the biggest reasons why Bill Gates was able to make so much money at a young age is that few older people had his skills.
They didn’t feel the need. The internet and technology wasn’t a big thing until it was!
Likewise, I have seen more people make big money in some frontier, and developing markets, compared to developed countries.
The reasons are the same. If you can get in before the party has fully started, sometimes you can make a lot of money.
We have seen the same thing recently online. A lot of the YouTubers making big money got in early.
The same is true when it comes to TikTik and other big channels. However, if it was so easy to find “the next YouTube” then why wouldn’t everybody find it?
In reality, most successful business people spend at least ten years making it, as this quote says:
The reason is simple. Most businesses aren’t the next Apple. Most successful businesses are more humble than that.
Yet when I look at businesses where the owner is making at least 500k a year, they have followed a similar path:
- Got a job. Got good at it. Seen the problems they want to solve (5 years+ and usually more).
- Started their own business and started to make good money (usually 2 years+ at least)
For example, I have a recruiter friend. He spent eight years working as a recruiter.
He becomes one of the best performers so started to become self-employed with the same firm, rather than take a salary.
Then he got bored and started his own thing. He started making 500k from year two in business BUT he wasn’t starting at zero.
His existing business was just building off the previous work. He already had the clients and candidates, after agreeing to a withdrawal agreement with his firm.
The same is true with many service industries – law, finance, consulting, and many others.
Many of the successful firms in this area are just started by people who are building onto an existing successful model. I did the same. When I started my own business, my clients followed.
Yet the media often implies that being a business owner is all about having great ideas and creating the next Facebook.
Many people who think that fast money comes in business end up crashing and burning:
Those who play the long game often make money quicker than they expect, but the overall success rate isn’t high.
So, yes, compared to the “get rich slow” investing route, which is tried and tested, starting your own business can get you there quicker.
The risk, and success rate, are much higher as well. That is one reason why most private business owners diversify into other investments.
What is something valuable that school did not teach you?
The biggest ones, in no particular order,
- Financial planning. Basic investing and personal planning advice. If all kids were taught more basics at a young age, there would be a smaller debt crisis, and more people able to retire earlier
2. Healthy living
This was done much better than financial planning, because I had one eccentric cooking teacher who went off script.
Yet most people aren’t taught enough about this
Most schools aren’t teaching people, even towards the end of their time at the establishment, about basic things like:
- How to get along with each other in business. People skills and soft skills.
- Sales/marketing or any other kind of revenue generating activity
- Accounting or any other kind of cost saving activity
Business studies is poor in most schools, as is “work experience”.
4. Negotiation and assertiveness
How to ask for things in an assertive way, without being horrible to other people.
In life, you often have to ask. If you want a pay rise, one of the easiest ways is just to ask politely.
It is so basic and increases your chances, but kids aren’t taught to be assertive.
There is too much teaching to the test. Kids tend to remember those teachers who went “off script” and taught important life lessons.
If one of your teachers told you that he/she knows an “everyday millionaire” who retired at 52 on a teacher’s salary (or another middle-income job), kids will likely remember that decades later, if the information was delivered in the proper way.
Same for nutrition and other subjects. One issue is too many people think “kids should be kids” means that children aren’t interested in topics like business, investing or politics.
Often they are, but they aren’t encouraged by adults.
How can I become a successful investor with having zero percent knowledge about investing?
There are really only two ways
- Learn yourself
- The implement long-term. Many people learn, few implement.
Start with books like this and then go to more advanced ones:
- Paul Farrell – The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing: A Book for Procrastinators, the Financially Challenged, and Everyone Who Worries About Dealing With Their Money
2. Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis. The Elements of Investing
3. Larry Swedroe. The Only Guide to an Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need
Larry Swedroe. The Quest For Alpha: The Holy Grail of Investing
4. John Bogle, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing : Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (Little Books. Big Profits)
5.Your brain and your money.
6. John Bogle’s “The Clash of the Cultures”
7.Lawrence Cunningham. The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Second Edition
8. “Security Analysis” by Benjamin Graham
9. Benjamin Graham’s “Intelligent Investor.”
10. Carl Richards, The Behavior Gap, Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Your Money.
In particular, read about why the stats below are a reality:
The only time when you know you can invest by yourself, is when you have seen through one or two crashes.
Somebody who didn’t panic during 2008 and 2020 has proven they can handle it.
Few people do in reality. Look at last year. According to stats, 35% panic sold and another 35% decided to “wait and see” and not invest during the crash.
2. Outsource it
If you don’t have time to read, or you have discovered that all your reading is pointless as soon as a financial crisis comes along and you panic sell, only to regret it, then outsource to an expert.
An expert can be more emotional detached and “cold”. Being less emotional is key in investing.
In the same way most people make progress if they get a personal trainer, as it helps with motivation and behaviour, the same is true for many (but not all) people in investing.
If the poor people read and have the same (or more) knowledge compared to the rich; what still keeps them away from wealth?
Most people here probably have the knowledge to look like this, especially if they are below 40:
Even more would have the needed knowledge if they did some basic research.
Yet, in reality, looking like this, if it was your “dream”, would require a lot of sacrifices long-term.
The same is true of wealth. Unless you inherit loads of money, or just get lucky, it requires loads of sacrifices with no 100% guarantee of success.
I can remember a few years ago I met somebody when I lived in China.
He was from the UK and had a decent salary. Nothing special.
He didn’t particular like his job though. He considered working at a real estate company after he saw one of his friends make big money.
Then he decided against it. What was the reason? Well, he would have needed to:
- Work harder
- Take a bigger risk (commission-only or a low-basic)
- Accept that there was no guarantee of success
I suspect he now regrets not taking the opportunity, now he is in his 30s.
What’s the worst that could have happened? He would have improved his CV, learned new things and went back to his previous role, where there are plenty of jobs.
Ultimately, there are only a few tried and tested ways to get wealthy, if you haven’t inherited it.
The main two are:
- Invest in financial assets. This is lower risk than option two, and 100% of people who have just bought and held assets like the S&P500 very long-term have made a lot of money. Yet, this is the get-rich-slow route. The average 20 year-old thinks they will be “past it” by 50, until they get there!
- Invest in a business. Much higher risk. MUCH lower success rate. The returns are incredible if it works. Even in this case, it makes sense to invest on the side.
Now sure, there are some other ways. Some people keep their day job and start to engage in entrepreneurial activities on the side, for example affiliate marketing.
They build up their income and wait until they can quit the day job.
The point is, ideas and knowledge aren’t useful in isolation.
Executing that knowledge long-term, even when it is uncomfortable, is.
Added to all of the above, there is a lot of misleading information online, which makes getting wealthy sound easier than it is.
The only “easy” way to get wealthy is the get rich slow kind of wealthy, or inherited wealth.
And even with that, it is easy to do it for more people, but it is emotional difficult, and requires people to be mature enough at a young age to delay gratification.
Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?
Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 299.3 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon
In the article below, taken directly from my online Quora answers, I spoke about the following issues and subjects:
- Chinese stocks are plummeting. Will it bring another financial contagion around the world, or is it a storm in a teacup?
- In the UK, what kind of income do you need to afford a 700,000GBP house? Should you even be trying to own a house which costs 700k?
- For expats in their 20s, is Vietnam or China a better place to live than Mainland Europe? I look at some of the pros and cons associated with living in these two countries compared to a more developed place.
- If Jeff Bezos sells his Amazon shares, would the company stocks crash and burn?
To read more click on the link below.