Like most of you readers, I have little to no training in finance. Rather than continue to accept the normal model of simply working my ass off for money, I want to foray into a few areas of business and other financial strategies as a means toward more advanced masculine self-empowerment and freedom. Ignore this at your own detriment; working for wages is essentially selling a piece of your life, and usually for far too low a price.
Most of us men grow up either falling directly into the working class or gaining some secondary education followed by falling into the working class (usually carrying student debt). We become mules, work hard for our wages, rent, borrow, and yet likely struggle to keep our head above water financially. This sounds a lot like the serfs or peasants of the past. If we want to rise above the rest of the cattle and thrive, a new philosophy of financial success is necessary. We need a new path entirely. Wages do not cut it unless you happen to be in a good paying field you love, with opportunity for advancement. Most of us are not. The Ethos of Men philosophy demands investment and business savvy.
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechner came highly recommended by a business mentor. This twenty-year-old book is more relevant than ever. Kiyosaki makes some profound observations including that usually our “primary income is through wages.” He adds that “most of us have no real assets that generate income.” Three other disadvantages we face as workers is as follows: 1) We tend to work for an employer, ultimately making them wealthier. 2) We work for the government in a real sense as we pay them a portion of our income in the form of taxation. 3) We essentially work for banks too because we pay them interest rates and other fees on our mortgages, credit cards, etc.
Kiyosaki insists that we each must create “more income from sources other than physical labor.” This resonates with me personally having experienced it to a degree as a small business owner. Being a small-scale tile contractor, it makes no sense for me to physically handle all aspects of every job. When I pay a trusted subcontractor to take some of that work off my plate (provided I manage that framework efficiently) my business profits. That profit is generated by someone else’s labor and not my own.
Kiyosaki says that money can be created through assets as well. Years ago, my wife and I bought a small rental property. Over the course of a decade rents in the area climbed, and we kept our unit rented almost constantly. Of course, managing a rental is a pain in the ass, yet it can create an additional stream of revenue alongside one’s wages. I am a believer in the theory of multiple streams of revenue, no matter how small. The more streams a man has coming in, the less likely he is to be financially ruined if one stream is interrupted. Most working people do not have multiple revenue streams…but the wealthy usually do.
If you are, or intend to go into business for yourself, the 2017 book Badass your Brand by Pia Silva is invaluable to the aspiring entrepreneur. Her advice is geared toward building a quality stand out brand for your product or service. Rather than offering deals or discounts, Silva encourages small business owners to set themselves apart by maintaining high prices that indicate high value. She points out that potential customers tend to choose based on low cost when their options appear to be similar. Instead, in business, set yourself up as the quality (albeit more costly option) and you will avoid the bargain hunting clients that drag you down with fussy penny-pinching demands.
You want a specific type of client, not just anybody who will buy. After my twenty-years in the tile installation business, and numerous failures along the way, I can say that Pia Silva nails it with her business advice. She says, “clients need to respect the expertise you bring to the table” and “the best clients will respect you for knowing your stuff.” Silva adds that “when clients call the shots, they also determine if the project goes smoothly.” I concur, when a potential client of mine gets heavy handed in attempting to control the framework right up front, I have learned to walk away. However, if a potential client is reasonable and respects my substantial experience and skill, only then will we move forward. The project then indeed goes more smoothly and consequently is more profitable for me. Just as in a romantic relationship, maintaining your frame is vital in business.
The conditioning most of us were exposed to growing up included the old-fashioned advice to work, save money, and borrow money. There is a kernel of truth in that advice, yet as usual there is more to add. Check out the Four-Hour Workweek book by entrepreneur Tim Ferriss to have your preconceived notions about money knocked on their ass. He examines “Pareto’s law”, the business concept that 20% of one’s clients produce 80% of profits and 80% of headaches are produced by 20% of clients. I have personally applied this by “firing” select nickel and diming building contractors that are high maintenance. Seeking out more low maintenance, yet high profit clients has boosted my income and reduced my time spent haggling and best of all, working. Ferriss explores the difference between absolute income versus relative income, essentially that income’s purpose is to buy a lifestyle rather than just rack up numbers on a bank statement. He even recommends living in a lower cost country for a period of time each year to greatly extend the buying power of our currency (and enjoy mini retirements). This is leveraging the economics and exchange rates of two economies for one’s own benefit. The automation of income, outsourcing of tasks, risk taking, and other concepts are addressed by Ferriss’ excellent book.
The 2019 book The Master of Achievement by Scott Allan says that “purpose driven people create their own opportunities, which lead to successful outcomes.” He adds that “people who wait for opportunities end up employed by others.” I do not mean to disparage those that are employed by others yet do see the importance of being purpose driven. Taking an active role in one’s own financial well-being makes tremendous sense. What will it look like for you? Starting a business means offering a product or service; I prefer the latter because handling taxation is simpler. Would it be brick and mortar business or online? Commercial and residential real estate is no easy game to get into, but perhaps cryptocurrency or stock day trading is more within reach as a side hustle. Some guys are even generating revenue by flipping sports trading cards online. I make no recommendations or offer specific financial advice aside from do your homework. Each of us can affect positive financial outcomes through our own creativity, our social networks, and personal perseverance.