The biggest mistake ever made in business

I meet many talented and passionate entrepreneurs that often make one big mistake when it comes to creating wealth – they invest in other people’s dreams instead of their own.

Allow me to clarify. Small businesses usually evolve as follows: A smart person thinks of a big idea. They execute it with passion and hard work.  They grow the business and attract more customers. They make money. Grow some more. Attract more customers. Make more money. So far so good.

There comes a point however where most business owners start to get tired and start thinking ‘there must be an easier way to make money. There must be a way to make money which does not require so much of my time and effort.’

Invest in your own field of dreams
An entrepreneur in born

This is when they usually make the biggest mistake. Instead of investing back into their business by purchasing newer technologies and hiring more staff who can take the business to the next level, they look to external investments: Usually the stock market and/or real estate. They think that such investments are an easy way to accumulate wealth. Consequently they take their eye off their business. They spend a lot of time looking for real estate, watching the stock market, meeting with experts etc.. They become immersed in these external investments. They devote a lot of time and energy learning about them. Meanwhile their businesses are dipping in performance. They start to lose customers and lose some key staff. ‘But that’s ok’ they say, ‘I will make more money on the stock market. Who needs the headache of running a day-to-day business.’

Wake-up Call

The GFC hits and they lose a lot of money on the stock market. Their real estate investments drop in value. Their superannuation does the same.

The big mistake they made is this: They invested in other people’s dreams instead of their own. When you invest in a company on the stock market you are literally handing over control of your money to someone else. You are investing in their dreams and not yours. And worse still, you have no control over the affairs of that company. Some people call that a ‘smart’ passive investment, but I call it a ‘dumb’ investment. It’s like claiming victory (or suffering defeat) for a game where you weren’t even on the playing field. Where’s the fun in that?

So when you think about investing in other people’s dreams on the stock market, ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I acting out of fear of failure? (You see I believe that some of us invest in other peoples dreams because we fear failing in our own. We want someone to blame if we do lose money.)

2. Do I really love my business? Do I believe in the mission? (You see I believe that if you really love what you do, then you would never want to invest in other people’s dreams)

The answers to these two questions will hopefully will lead  you to this conclusion: The best investment you can make is in yourself and in your own business. That is the best form of wealth creation. Sure, it does require you to work hard but the return you get is much more than money. You get to wake up every morning and lead a life of purpose. You get to experience the joy of adding value to your customers lives. You get to inspire the people you work with. You get to control your own destiny. And you get the opportunity to grow your business on your own terms.

Investing in yourself pays the biggest dividends

[A dear friend and client of mine is slowing climbing out of a financial mess. He had spent so much of his time and energy working and investing his money on the stock market. He put his life on hold for much of the decade. He worked tirelessly because his plan was to make enough money so he could eventually retire and spend time travelling with his wife and ‘being happy’. After the GFC hit however, he had to start again because he lost so much on the stock market. The following is a snapshot of what I shared with him.]

Imagine if you will a tall beautiful tree with two branches; a left branch that reaches high into the sky with a barren trunk but the most abundant fruit sitting at the very top. And a right branch that reaches away from the left branch but then curls back towards it at the very top. This right branch has an abundance of lower lying fruit scattered throughout, and is easier to climb.

INVEST IN YOURSELF

This “money” tree is a metaphor for creating wealth. The left branch represents investing your money in shares, bank deposits or real estate.  The right branch is where you invest in yourself. I see so many people trying to climb the left branch too early in life and then fall. They lose their money and become despondent. They end up quitting on the idea of being rich. The mistake they make is this: The left branch may or may not make you rich but it will never make you wealthy.  Only the right branch can do that.

Being rich gives you money but being wealthy gives you freedom.  The irony is that most wealthy people I know have both, freedom and money. And they all have one thing in common. They invest in themselves by climbing the right branch first.

What does it mean to invest in yourself? It means to spend your time, energy and money improving the following areas of your life: Your health, your love life, your family, your work, your friendships, and your learning.

As you invest more and more in these areas you are climbing your way up that right branch and getting closer and closer to the top of the left one. A funny thing happens when you actively live your best life. You put yourself in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. When you live a complete life that makes you happy, healthy and loved, you start to develop a positive frame of mind and a warm attitude. This attracts good things and good people to you. And these often come with opportunities to work and invest in new ideas that excite you and make money for you.

Then, and only then, should you invest some of your time and money on the left branch. Whether you make money or not, you will always have your wealth. No one can ever take that away from you.

Have your ideas ever been burgled?

A dear friend of mine from New Zealand had his home burgled on the weekend.  He took his family away for a great weekend to Lake Taupo for what he said “was the best break ever,” only to return home and find the front door open and belongings stolen. The most significant thing that was stolen however was his daughter’s innocence. For the first time she had to process the fact that there are ‘bad people’ in this world.

So how does one deal with such an event? Any parent will tell you that the best way to raise children is to continually distract them with more positive matters. (Children are easily distracted not because they are naive but because they live in the present.) The idea here is not to dwell on the event. Sometimes people spend too much time analyzing what went wrong and how it affected them emotionally. The issue grows in proportion to the amount of time they spend thinking about it.

It is no different in business. Ideas are stolen or ‘borrowed’ all the time. But I see so many entrepreneurs waste a lot of their focus and energy dwelling on it rather than getting on with it. They focus on the review mirror instead of the road ahead.

So whether you have been burgled in life or in business, the best way to deal with it is to learn from it, get over it and distract yourself with more positive matters. Focus on your mission and your goals. Wake up every morning and take action. Continue to eat well, exercise, love, laugh, create, innovate, communicate and build solid relationships with family, friends and associates. Very soon you will forget about the event.

What you choose to do in your future can never be burgled.

Sam Makhoul.

DOES CURIOSITY KILL THE ENTREPRENEUR?

The answer is no. In fact curiosity is a great teacher and a great asset to have. In business it is essential. Sure, we must temper curiosity with responsibility but we should not cripple our curiosity with fear of failure.

As children we are fearless. As we grow older fear gets in the way of our curiosity. We are taught that curiosity may get us into trouble. What a loss that is. In business and in life, nothing further can be from the truth.

Many great entrepreneurs and innovators (think Einstein) have a child-like curiosity for the world around them. They see opportunities. They poke, they prod, they make that phone call, they attend that seminar, and they connect with other like-minded people. Curiosity leads them to innovation. They try new things and question the status quo. They may fail at times but the beautiful thing about curiosity is that you even learn from such failures.

I was curious enough to recently attend a seminar by Dale Beaumont. I learned so much and met so many people, that it will change the course of my business forever. Curiosity led me to that.

So ask yourself this. Are you letting curiosity weave its magic into your life and business or are you living in the realms of fear, disguised as responsibility?

THREE SUPER NUTRIENTS

In our quest for good health we have forgotten THREE very powerful SUPER nutrients that can help us live long, healthy and happy lives.

I was at the World Wellness Project in Melbourne on Thursday 8th Feb. I had the privilege of briefly addressing the delegates about health and wellness. I planned to talk about “Hitting the Reset Button” but one of the speakers (John Toomey) said something, which I thought deserved to be elaborated upon. John mentioned how some people live to a ripe old age even though they may break all the rules of nutrition. Some even smoke and drink alcohol and still live into their nineties. Often, journalists interview such people with the hope of uncovering some wonder food that they may be taken – is it wine? Is it dark chocolate? Is it Gogi berries? Is it Pomegranate juice?

What they fail to realise and what many of us often forget is that there are nutrients for the heart and mind that are much more powerful than the nutrients of the body. Many experts now believe that the true source of energy and wellness comes from our thoughts and feelings – not our bodies. Physically, we are energy! So when we are feeling lethargic and down it does not always mean that our bodies lack certain nutrients. It often means that our energy is trapped inside of us, stagnant and unreleased. Why? Because we are not feeding our heart and mind these three key super nutrients.

These nutrients give us an energy explosion. They make us bounce out of bed in the morning and give us a purpose and passion for life.

You are probably wondering what they are. They are love, friendship & work.

When it comes to LOVE: Research has shown that people who are in a loving long-term relationship are much happier and healthier than their single counterparts.

When it comes to FRIENDSHIP: Research shows that people who have a wide circle of friends and who socialise often are much healthier than people who are isolated and lonely.

When it comes to WORK: There is overwhelming research showing that people who love what they do and who work from the heart rarely ever get sick.

Now I’m not suggesting that you are not familiar with the importance of love, friendship and work. And I am not suggesting that food is not important. What I am suggesting is that we haven’t been as deliberate and scientific about these three areas of life as we have with food, water and air. We have not treated these three super nutrients of the heart and mind with the same level of respect.

There are people who measure the amount of carbohydrates, protein and fat they consume. They filter their water and their air. Yet they do not measure how they are travelling when it comes to LOVE – FREINDSHIP – WORK. Why? Because unlike food, air and water, these three intangible nutrients are difficult to measure. So it is difficult for us to reward ourselves when we meet certain targets.

So my challenge to you is this: are you as serious about love, friendship and work as you are about the water you drink, the food you eat and the air you breathe. I hope you are because you will find that these three super nutrients of the heart and mind will give you much more energy and vitality than food ever will alone.