The millionaires I have interviewed while devising this system have all shared the same fundamental route to success. Today I reveal the six stepping stones to wealth. Paul McKenna
One of the most amazing discoveries I had when studying the high achievers for this book was that, while they all have their individual styles in business, they all share the same fundamental strategy for creating wealth. Broadly speaking, that strategy involves thinking about a product, service or business in an entrepreneurial way.
Today I will show you how you can use this same wealth-creating template to create your own successful projects. I used to find the idea of “entrepreneurship” a bit daunting, but then I spoke with Peter Jones, widely acknowledged as one of Britain’s most successful young entrepreneurs. Despite his modest beginnings, his businesses have an annual turnover of £200 million. He pointed out to me that the word “entrepreneur” simply means “someone who gets paid for adding value”. When you are willing to think of yourself as a value creator, your “job” becomes quite simple: identify a field where you would like to add value, then identify the value you would like to add.
Now I will outline the six steps to wealth that emerged again and again as I studied the business geniuses for this book. Do not worry if you are already in business or are determined to remain an employee – these same six steps will be of great use to you to find the hidden wealth in your current working situation, whatever it may be.
Let’s get things started . . .
Step 1: Choose something you have a passion for or genuine interest in
Sir Richard Branson began in magazines and then rock music; Peter Jones took his fascination with tennis and computers and used them first to set up a tennis academy and then a business selling computer accessories. In his words, “Having a passion for what you do is very important, especially when you are going to be working all hours to try and make the business work. In addition, your passion and belief will motivate others around you.”
Of course, your passion and interest can come from what you hate as much as what you love. When Dame Anita Roddick started the Body Shop, she was as determined to provide a safe and animal-friendly alternative to the standard operating practices of the cosmetics industry as she was to create a vehicle for putting her beliefs into action about what truly mattered in the world.
Step 2: Figure out where you can add value
Once you have identified something you have a genuine interest in and passion for, you then need to look for what you can bring to that field that isn’t already there.
Here are some of the questions the rich-thinking entrepreneurs ask themselves in examining the potential to add value to any business, product or service:
–– Who is already making money in this area? –– What sets apart the most successful people in this field from the rest? –– What’s missing? What isn’t being done? –– What do the people who are already using this product or service really want? –– What can I offer that’s different to everyone else?
Step 3: Vividly imagine every detail of how the business will work
One of the surprising differences between the most successful entrepreneurs I interviewed and the rest was their willingness to take the time to vividly imagine the details of every new enterprise before leaping into action. For example, Sol Kerzner designs a hotel in his mind long before he builds it in the real world. He imagines every detail – how it will look, how each surface will feel, how the whole environment will be. Sir Richard Branson makes pages and pages of detailed notes, describing every aspect of the business in great detail.
Peter Jones actually “interrogates” the whole concept, searching for both the obvious and hidden areas of potential profits and potential obstacles to its success. If the obstacles can be overcome and he can see the business working, he gets a massive burst of motivation. He vividly imagines the business working and keeps this visualisation regularly in mind.
He says: “I am a great believer that it is always easier to achieve something that you have already done, even though I may have achieved it only in my own mind. This gives me great confidence.” However you choose to do it, taking the time to build your business in your mind and/ or on paper is an essential step in the process. Be sure to look at the downside as well as the up – the more potential obstacles you can foresee and solve in advance, the fewer real obstacles you will face and the easier it will be to overcome them.
Step 4: Evaluate the risks and decide which ones are worth taking
Willingness to take risks after calculating the upside and downside is a common one among successful entrepreneurs. The genius film-maker George Lucas made billions from the merchandising rights to his Star Wars movies. When I spoke to him, he told me that he got the idea when he took a careful look at the potential upside and downside of the very first movie in the series. “Everyone has since thought this was a clever financial strategy,” said Lucas, “but the truth is that I was concerned that the film might not work commercially. I knew it had the potential to achieve cult status, so I figured if I could make money on the merchandising it would help me to fund another film.” Here’s a quick way to calculate the risk/reward ratio of any new enterprise for yourself . . .
1. Think about a decision you are considering making that feels a bit risky. 2. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much good could come of taking this risk if you are successful? 3. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much of a negative impact would this risk not working have on your business or in your life? 4. If the first number is bigger than the second, the risk/reward ratio is weighted towards action; if the second number is bigger than the first, it’s probably best to find another way to proceed.
Step 5: Take massive action
Another thing I noticed about the rich thinkers and successful entrepreneurs was that there is virtually no gap between their decisions and their actions. Once they decided to go ahead with a project, the first action steps were generally taken within 24 hours.
When Mark Burnett arrived in LA in 1982, he had £300 in his pocket and no return ticket. His first job was selling T-shirts on Venice beach. Today he is the most successful TV producer in the world. He told me his motto is “jump in” – take action even if you are not entirely ready. He firmly believes that a major part of his success has been his willingness to go for what he’s passionate about, even if he isn’t completely convinced he can actually pull it off. For myself, I like to think of action as the great equaliser.
No matter what your level of intelligence, education or capital, a willingness to take massive action instantly puts you on an equal footing with the wealthiest men and women in the world.
Step 6: Expect obstacles, learn from setbacks and keep moving towards your goals
Although only some of the rich thinkers I worked with would describe themselves as optimists, all of them are realists. Nothing in life unfolds exactly as planned, and a road without bumps is almost certainly not headed anywhere worthwhile.
Rather than take obstacles as a reason to give up or a “sign from the universe”, the truly successful entrepreneurs simply use each obstacle as an opportunity for creative problem-solving and creative action. If a business ultimately doesn’t work out, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off and move on. This resilience comes from self-belief and thorough downside planning. Peter Jones shared his version of this process: if obstacles keep occurring, I stop and ask: What can I learn from this obstacle? What do we need to do differently to make it work? I then create a new visualisation of how the business needs to function and keep running this scenario in my mind until I know it will work. If another obstacle or challenge occurs further down the line, I can then return to my vision for guidance and motivation. While things may not always happen totally as I planned, I always get to my goal in the end.