There IS an entrepreneurial bug!

This post has been featured in the Carnival of Wealth:


People often say that they have been “bitten by the entrepreneurial bug” … and, I can say that is perfectly true!

I always wanted to be a ‘millionaire by 30’, but I missed my first million and jumped straight to making my 7th by the time I was 49 😉

But, that did not translate directly into wanting to be an entrepreneur; in fact, I was working for a Fortune 10 company and happily dreaming about becoming its CEO (“one day”) …

… apart from one or two disastrous years, I had a charmed time there, winning ‘bonuses’ left, right, and center – and, traveling around the world on the corporate budget, having the time of my life.

But, that all changed by Work Year 6.

Suddenly – and, I mean suddenly and inexplicably – I was struck with the desire to be in my own business. Almost literally, I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug!

From that point on, I was miserable in my job … I schemed and planned my way to a myriad business ideas that I couldn’t quite translate into a real business.

In the end, I wimped out and joined IDB.

Yep, the Great Entrepreneur was In Dad’s Business!

Thankfully, that business promptly went broke leaving me with nothing but a $30k debt and a customer list, which I turned into a ‘cloned’ business (i.e. same customers, same concept, very similar name) that I still own, nearly 20 years later. And that business helped to fund the ‘other business’ that took me to the USA.

So, I guess I found the true Entrepreneur Within, after all …

But, what I wanted to share was my thought process, all those years ago when I was still at my ‘desk job’:

I wanted to be in business, and all I knew was IT (information/computer technology), so here were the choices that I came up with:

1. Consulting: as I mentioned in passing, in a recent post, I was something of a ‘world expert’ in my little niche so consulting was a natural first choice for going it alone. But, I realized that I would still be trading hours for dollars.

The formula is (from memory) 1440 possible working hours of the year – hours lost due to marketing, administration, and time off x billable rate = MAXIMUM total revenue. Plug any number in that you like, and it doesn’t add up to $7m7y.

2. Sell something: The only thing I knew how to sell was computers, and the only ones of those that I would likely be able to get a licence to sell would be PC’s. Unfortunately, I could see a price war and shakeout happening which would crush the small guys (this certainly happened).

3. Build something to sell: Again, the only thing that I knew was software: I could develop a piece of software and sell it. Unfortunately, every piece of software has a lifecycle … when the better one comes along, I’m toast.

There was my dilemma …

Fortunately for the world, Mr Price and Mr Coopers didn’t think about the consulting equation before starting PWC (one of the world’s biggest consulting companies before selling off to IBM).

Equally fortunately, Steve Jobs didn’t worry about costs and margins when creating the Apple 1 and 2 – then Lisa and Macintosh – computers and offering them to the world.

Perhaps unfortunately for the world (if you’re a M$-basher), Bill Gates didn’t think about obsolescence before licencing his piece of of software to IBM, then others.

Bottom line: if you’re passionate about an idea, give it a go … you’ll find a way to make money if the idea is good enough. If not, what you learn will be worth the ‘cost’ in lost time/money.

To mini-retire or not to mini-retire?

DrDollaz takes issue with whole ‘eat hamburger now so that you can eat steak later’ philosophy:

Problem with that philosophy is that years later – after being used to eating nothing but hamburger – most people have a hard time splurging on steak!

The whole fallacy of ‘saving so that you can enjoy retirement’ is BS – your life should be filled with mini-retirements.

But, Think Simple Now tried a mini-retirement and found that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be:

When I first learned of the mini-retirement concept, I was immediately attracted to the idea. To me it represented freedom. I had all these romantic notions associated with it, and when I found a way to take three months off from work, I jumped at the first chance and ran with it.

While traveling is an eye-opening experience and a chance to see how others live in vastly different cultures. It is exhausting, on many levels. It quickly became clear to me that the romantic concept of traveling is flawed.

It turns out that TSN is more disillusioned with travel rather than mini-retirements, per se.

Fortunately, I agree with DrDollaz …

The $7million7years Way  is all about leading you to some future date where you have amassed the required amount of money to start living (your Life’s Purpose).

But, of course, if that’s all you take away then you’ve missed half the story:

Because I also say that money has only one purpose: to spend.

And, I have written many posts telling you to save now, but also to spend now!

Life is a journey …

… and, that includes the bits both before and after your reach your Number 😉

The Real Value of Money?

Aside from the interesting New Zealand accent (only a hop, step and a jump away from my own Aussie accent) – and, the fact that the Porsche Cayenne costs NZ$260k (or a little over USD$189,000) making them ridiculously expensive in the Land Of The Long White Cloud – I think this video is misnamed.

So you forgo the car and invest the money (as you probably should, while you are trying to work towards your Number) and get back $1.8 million after 20 years … what do you do then?

Well, isn’t the Real Value of Money based for spending? Am I missing something here?!

What you spend it on is up to you: you could give it all away or you could go out and buy yourself a Porsche Cayenne.

And, if you’re going to buy a Porsche Cayenne then, why not buy it now (if you have reached your Number and/or can afford it within the 5% Spending Rule)? 😉

Still, the message is clear: don’t go out and waste your money on ‘stuff’ if you are still trying to work towards your Number!

The Murphy’s Law Fund

Scott who – in my post proposing a Zero Dollar Emergency Fund – says:

I’ve given this topic a lot of thought and how do you feel about seeing a typical ‘emergency fund’ as more of a temporary ‘war chest’? In that, you are building up this cash savings reserve as fast as you can, while you scout for that next great investment opportunity (ie; stock in that excellent undervalued company that you researched, or that terrific foreclosure that you’ve scouted out in a great area that you want to purchase and turn into a rental property, or an excellent business idea or perhaps funding the expansion of your current business).

I figure that way, this money has a specific target(high returns that are more likely to get you to your number by your date) BUT, in the meantime, if Murphy pays you a visit while you’re building up this ‘war chest’, you have some liquidity(ie; emergency funding) to tackle that emergency. But, as soon as you have enough built up to take that next investment opportunity, take it with this money!

The short answer is that Scott has some cash lying around, and hasn’t yet figured out what to do with it. An ’emergency’ pops up, so the logical thing to do is to dip into that cash and use it to solve the problem.

I don’t have any issue with that: but it isn’t an Emergency Fund. It also isn’t a ‘war chest’. It’s just some spare cash lying around …

Of course, I’m overstating things for dramatic effect, here 😉

So, let’s take a look at the following graph to see what may be happening [AJC: I’ve adapted this graph from something to do with the ‘mating cycle of dogs’ that I found on Google image search, but I think it suits our non-canine purposes just fine!]:

Let’s pretend for a minute that this graph represents the amount of ‘spare cash’ that Scott has lying around (Y-Axis) at any point in time (X-Axis):

Scott starts building up his savings, has a little glitch as he realizes that he forgot to pay his car insurance premium by installments so he has to pay it all at once, then steadily builds up again until it reaches Scott’s ‘peak’  – his ideal Emergency Fund of $10,000.

Then Scott hits paydirt: an idea for a new online business, and he starts to spend that $10k on programming, domain name registration, hosting, Google Adwords and all the other stuff needed to get the ‘side business’ off and running. A couple of months and $9k later, Scott’s business is paying it’s own way [AJC: well done, Scott!].

Great, now Scott can start building that Emergency Fund again …

Do you see the problem?

The only time the Emergency Fund is adequate is between the time that Scott has managed to save up the full $10,000 and the time he starts spending the money on something else (in this case, his new business idea; it could easily have been a vacation, new car, girlfriend, or …?).

[Sigh] If only Life’s little ’emergencies’ knew how to fit into Scott’s calendar [double sigh]

I guess it’s up to me to propose a better solution …

Next time 😉

The case FOR credit cards …

I think, by now, we all agree:

Credit Cards = BAD

I mean, that’s pretty much Personal Finance Kindergarten, right?

Why pay 19%+ interest for something that just goes down in value (like that 3D TV)?

But, why do I pay all my bills – both work and personal – by credit card.

I’m sure the answer’s pretty obvious to all and sundry: it’s for the points, man!

Yes, even millionaires like to get free stuff …

…. and, Sugardaddy outlines on NetworthIQ exactly how he does it:

1) Assuming that you pay your bills on time, most of the time, put all routine expenses on your credit card…utilities, groceries, etc.

2) Set up an automatic bill payment plan from your checking account for the card online.


1) you get a 30-day free loan.
2) you get free credit card points that are worth real money.
3) you increase your credit score.
4) you consolidate all your bills in one payment
5) You will never have a late fee and the APR will never concern you.
6) You will always watch your checking account balance like a hawk as failure to have enough in the account IS NOT AN OPTION.

I have done this for 10 years and it works like a charm…I get all my video games for “free” from Best Buy, and beat the banks at their own game.

Life does not get any better than that.

But, there’s always a catch in Life, Sugardaddy 😉

The one, here, is that the credit card companies HOPE that you forget to pay your bill on time, then you get to pay interest from the date of purchase.

[AJC: actually, they’ve already made their $$$$ from the Merchant Fee – believe me, I understand this side of the business VERY well – but, that 19% they get from you is just sweeeetttttt]

So, I add a few more steps to this otherwise inspired plan:

7 ) See 6)
8 ) See 6)
9 ) See 6)
10) See 6)

Point made?

Great, because I, too, have been doing this for years.

My assistant puts all ‘work’ expenses through my personal credit card (needless to say I have a LARGE credit limit), and my wife does the same with our home expenses.

Both ensure payment in full each and EVERY month.

Having done that, later this year I’m traveling ’round the world first class [AJC: I’m told that First Class on the new A380 entitles me to my own/private room on the ‘plane!] … fully ‘paid’ by points.

Sweet 🙂

Monetizing your passion …

If you want a business but don’t know where to start, think about monetizing your passion.

By that I mean, find out what it is that you like to do in this world (golf? personal finance? knitting?) and parlay that into a business.

Here’s somebody who turned a passion (and talent) for jewellery made from twisting little silver-plated wires into a $600k+ p.a. online business that teaches others how to do the same!

That’s why I recommend that you start today …

… whether you have any idea what/how to start your business or not, start by writing a blog.

It can tell others how to do whatever it is that you do (if you are already an expert), chronicle your own journey to ‘expertness’ (great way to get started, even if you don’t know much about your passion at all), or it can simply be a collection / review of others who are experts.

Down the track, you’ll have enough randomized blog entries to create some of your own information products … all neatly reviewed, scrubbed, and honed with the volunteer assistance of your readership.

What do you think I’ve been doing with this blog all of this time? 😉

Seriously, if you think this is hard, check out this story of a 9 y.o. who decided to (successfully, I believe) help pay for his own heart operation by writing/selling an e-book:

Inspirational, true story even without the business/money lesson that I had to wrap around it!

Lying in a job interview …


If you don’t understand why lying to anybody about anything is a Very Bad Thing, please unsubscribe from this blog … I don’t want to financially arm a lying, cheating scoundrel, you’re dangerous enough without money 🙂

This could be my shortest post ever, so let me pad it out with a very-slighty-related anecdote:

One of my friends was offered a promotion, so he had a ‘salary negotiation’ meeting with the CFO of the company (also a very nice guy and also a personal friend, which makes this all the more funny to me).

After a suitable opening discussion, the CFO reached into his briefcase and pulled out an Offer Letter with the proposed new salary on it, and signed by the CEO.

Pretty official … end of discussion.

Except the payrise was trivial (like 5%) and involved a relocation; naturally, my friend pointed out to my other friend (the CFO) how inadequate the payrise was.

No problem.

The CFO merely reached into his briefcase and pulled out a second letter! Neatly typed and also signed by the CEO … sneaky, huh?

Only problem was that this offer was still too low, and my friend told him so.

No problem.

The CFO reached into his briefcase and pulled out a third signed letter!

I wonder how many more signed ‘official’ letters were sitting in there?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know because my first friend stopped there and my other friend (the CFO) ain’t telling.

If there is a message in all of this: negotiate the hell out of all job/business opportunities (without being a pain the the a…), but please don’t lie about it.

Speaking of Billionaires …

Where I fear to tread, Bargaineering boldly ventures; proudly proclaiming The Billionaire Secret: Avoid Ordinary Income, Acquire Capital Gains.

I won’t presume to tell you anything about being a bil-yun-air until I are one, but that doesn’t stop others from trying; Bargaineering says:

The key to building wealth is to build or buy an asset that can appreciate in value and/or generates passive income. The key to building or buying an asset that can do that is to convert your labor into capital (money). This is why saving for retirement, saving for a home, and saving in general is such an important piece of your personal finance plan. This is the billionaire secret because this idea is well understood by people who are wealthy. They see that capital gains taxes are much lower than ordinary income, that’s why Warren Buffet pays lower tax rates than his secretary. Capital gains are taxed at 15% for 2010 while the 15% tax bracket is the second lowest federal tax bracket (for those earning up to $34,000). It’s a no brainer, you want to transition, as quickly as possible, from ordinary income to long term capital gains and dividend income.

Have you ever seen those magic shows where the magician pulls some random guy out of the audience and gets him to try and copy what the magician is doing?


The magician accomplishes some amazing feat and the other guy (gal?) ends up looking like a shmuck …

Well, that’s kind’a like what’s happening here – in fact, with most PF authors who write ‘get rich’ stuff. They are working by what they THINK they see other (real millionaires and billionaires) doing.

And, they see Warren Buffett playing with capital and saving on taxes and … presto!

“Convert your labor into capital (money)” and “capital gains taxes are much lower than ordinary income”, so “it’s a no brainer, you want to transition, as quickly as possible, from ordinary income to long term capital gains and dividend income”.

So, it’s a no brainer that you do all this (because the Billionaires DO do all of this, I think) and you’ll be standing there in 5 to 10 years as a poor shmuck.


You’ve missed the point entirely: how the trick is done, because it’s done behind the scenes … Bargaineering can’t really see it and neither can you.

Not because these billionaires are hiding anything (well, they probably are hiding at least a little) – unlike the magician who can’t afford to tell, not even once – but, because they have much more important things to do than write books and blogs.

So, from a multimillionaire’s perspective rather than a billionaire’s, let me share what I think is going on:

1. While you are trading hours for $$$ you lose

This is why I chose NOT to become a highly paid consultant, way back when I was a world expert (speaking tours and all) in my little niche. Don’t trade a limited commodity (time) for an unlimited one (money); you only have 40 to 60 hours a week to trade, no matter how much per hour you think you can pull, yet money is just bits of paper that Uncle Sam prints by the trillions.

Fortunately this one is simple: start a business; start investing … make your little bit of time and money work as hard as possible, until the money – on its own – starts to make more money for you. I think you can extrapolate?

2. Capital is better than income

But, it’s not for the tax-advantages … I don’t do anything BECAUSE of the tax advantages (for one, Uncle Sam loves to change those rules at the drop of a policy change); I simply take ’em when they come.

But capital is a tool for creating income; it’s a little like that time/money thing. The best you can do is create your perpetual money machine: use your income to buy a little capital (real-estate is nice) which generates more income (from rents, after mortgage and other costs) which you pump back into buying more ‘capital’; repeat until rich!

Finally, Bargaineering says:

While the 2% you can get at a high interest savings account isn’t going to set you for retirement, that income represents your money working for you. The problem with this approach, at least for the long term, is that interest income is considered ordinary income. It’s taxed at the higher rate, which makes it a bad idea.

Do I really need to explain why the problem here is the 2%, not the taxation rate?

None of this get rich(er) quick(er) stuff works, if you don’t get your annual compound growth rate to infinity and beyond … well, at least to 15%+++ 😉

What it takes to be a Billionaire ….

I feel so privileged to be in the blogging company of a billionaire …

Guerrilla Billionaire [AJC: who, presumably is so humble that he doesn’t even pay $12 at GoDaddy for a real domain name, prefering to use: the free one provided by Typepad … so humble, it brings tears to my eyes] offers a course on How to Become A Billionaire.

Thankfully, he also provided a link to an article written by a guy who interviewed a REAL Chinese billionaire 5 or 6 times:

It seems that this Chinese Billionaire’s ‘secrets’ are along the lines of being humble (he started as a peasant boy), being nice to everybody (you never know when the next peasant will become your competitor, financier, or business partner), being scrupulously honest (apparently, there’s a way to be unscrupulously honest that, so far, I am blissfully unaware of), and to leave plenty of meat on the bone for others.

Of these, perhaps the last is the only ‘real’ secret that I can see in all of this (5 interviews and no secret business or money management techniques?!) … or, at least the only one (other than being honest) that I can relate to:

In my latest property development deal, I am sharing 25% of the project profit (plus a $200k fee) to my partner who is essentially doing nothing other than project management … he’s not putting a penny into these deals (I’m paying him $200k + 25% on each): I’m funding 100%.

I could hire an experienced building project manager for less than the $200k fee alone, yet I am potentially giving away millions to this guy.


Well, part’s the ‘honesty/ethics’ bit: he did find me one of the pieces of land that I aquired and pointed me towards the real multi-story condo development potential of the other (I had a much less lucrative project in mind); not to mention, he helped me with the rehab of my house.

But, that’s not quite the full story: while I don’t normally like partners – in fact, have never had one before – this is a whole new thing for me … I know nothing – nada – about property development, having always been a buy-and-hold guy. Again, I could have bought in the expertise, but that may not be the same as having somebody that I can (hopefully) trust who now has skin in the game.

We shall see if this strategy works; and – given how much I have already learned (property development is EASY) – whether I will go it alone on any future projects.

But, there’s a LOT to be said for not looking at how many beans are on the other guy’s plate: if you’re hungry, and you’re also eating beans, who cares?

Oh, as to the billionaire course, I won’t be taking it – even though I probably need an instructor for Making Money 401.

Fortunately for you, you already have a bona fide multimillionaire to guide you through MM101, 201 and 301 …

… even if I’m not very humble – at least as far as this blog, using my semi-anonymous AJC identity, goes,  😉