To live well, you only need so much money. It took me 25 years to realize this. Clients have been dropping this hint for years. I know the happiest, most accomplished business owners don't worry about money. It could be because they don't worry about things. You'll hear them say, "You rarely see a Hearse with a luggage rack." or "The more things you own, the more things own you."
Rule #1. When the people you respect and admire the most all have the same message. It's time to listen.
As a business owner, ask yourself, "What is important to you?" You only have so much time and so much money. So, what do you put a premium on?
- Time with family and friends
- Passions and hobbies, travel
- Not worrying about money
- Your business legacy
If your list is like mine, consider living life to the fullest instead of buying stuff.
Rule # 2. Don't get sucked into buying stuff. This is difficult, and the temptations are enormous. We are a nation of consumers. Yet, consider this example if one of your objectives is to avoid worrying about money. You and I both buy our first car at age 21, and one of us drives our vehicles for 120,000 miles or ten years while the other person trades in the car every three years for a new car. The difference in our savings over our lifetime can be significant. It is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you like new cars, you can disregard this example, but there are numerous other ways to simplify life and not worry about money. Cut back on high-priced lattes, quit smoking, reduce rarely used high-priced options on bills, etc.
The point is it is different from how much money you make. It is how much you save and invest. Opportunities to invest wisely are always available to us, even now. Please note: This is not a financial planning column. I reference these examples for two reasons. 1. Do we really need all this stuff? Is all the stuff we buy today worth sacrificing financial freedom down the road for our families? 2. We are much more effective at satisfying customers when our internal customers (employees) are excited about their roles. If you want to motivate your team to come to work committed to growing your business, help them achieve their financial goals as you satisfy yours. Create a culture of assuring your best people can continuously develop more of their potential in many areas. Financial well-being is one area of personal and professional development that can be developed.
Becoming the millionaire next door.
This is not scientific research. Yet the results are worth noting. In the past, I have had the pleasure and honor of providing executive coaching to 32 privately held business owners in our region who are "the millionaire next door."
We define a millionaire as someone who has at least one million dollars in liquid assets in addition to residential and commercial real estate holdings. Here are some of the patterns discovered.
• Married to the same great person they committed to many years ago.
• Involved in their community and or religious organization.
• They own their own business.
• They save 15% of their income.
• They have little or no debt.
• They re-invest 10% of their gross profits in their business.
• Drive a Camry or a Honda, not a Mercedes or Jaguar.
• They love what they do.
• Money is not a primary motivator.
• Have developed new passions for travel, hobbies, and spending more time with friends.
Rule #3. Have a vision and a plan.
Since we will spend more time in the future than in the past, let's decide how we want to live it. Life and business opportunities are just too exciting to miss. My observation is that very few of my millionaire clients will retire when they reach 65, or ever, for that matter. They are having too much fun and truly enjoy what they do. They have plenty of free time to pursue their passions as well.
Other business owners I met still need an exit strategy. They plan to retire at or around 65 years young. Think for a moment, if you are 55 or 65 and you intend to retire, what will you do? The answer I often get is, "Play golf or fish." My next question is, "Okay. So, what will you do with the other 8 hours in a day?" Let's face it! You are too talented and young just to play golf or fish (unless you plan on being on the senior PGA circuit). You may become bored out of your mind!
As a business owner, you are someone who is always involved. You are always thinking about how I can do this better. You might even wake up in the middle of the night with great ideas for improving things. Do you really think golf is going to replace that excitement?
One thing is almost inevitable whether you are 45, 50, or 60. You may be in much better physical shape than your predecessor, who started the business at your age. You likely also have the luxury of scheduling more time to clarify your future strategy. As the saying goes, "Work on the business, not in it." This is a luxury your parents may not have had. Please capitalize on this.
Remember, should you decide to quit, close your business, or call it a day, we will be deprived of the services you provide that make a difference in the lives of the communities in which you operate.
A big part of living well should be watching others enjoy the fruit of your labors.