I remember telling my Dad at a young age how I would become a millionaire by 30. He gave me the non-sarcastic, yet mostly skeptical "I bet you will, son."
But shockingly, I did.
And while money seemed to be the focus during my early pursuit, it became my furthest concern over the past several years. Interestingly, success has a way of prioritizing what drives us.
But let's say you're like me 12 years ago: broke (or at least not wealthy), living in an apartment, and having very little besides a full tank of ambition and a fierce dedication to win. How do you reach your goal? How do make it to the millionaires' club?
More importantly, how do you do it while keeping a good name, not killing yourself with stress, and still creating a life full of relationships and joy?
Here's what I've learned over the past several years. My advice is not easy or quick, but it's more likely to work than the sea of get-rich-quick programs that litter the internet.
1. Flip Your Money Motivation Upside Down
By age 25, I was nowhere near a net worth of $1 million. I still had some debt, still lived in an apartment, but I was at least taking a $48,000 salary from my own company. Progress was being made.
And then my heart changed. After asking myself the question, "If Jesus started a company, what would it look like?". My motivation shifted from financial success to impact success.
I launched Sevenly, a company with a mission to give $7 to a worthy cause for every product we sold. My sights were set on feeding the hungry, rescuing girls caught in sex trafficking, caring for the orphan, and most importantly building a healthy business of love and respect.
Becoming a millionaire wasn't even on my radar.
In just three years, we had almost 50 employees, $6.5 million in revenue, and had given over $4 million to charities. I wrote a national bestselling book about it called People Over Profit. The takeaway was this:
See money not as the primary goal but as a by-product of helping a million people.
You'll never become wealthy without helping people. It's that simple. What massive problem can you get lost in? What human needs are begging for you to solve them?
2. Start Playing The 5x Generosity Game
Wharton professor, Adam Grant proves in his book Give And Take that people who give and give often are more financially successful than those who don't. But it's more complex than just being generous. In my experience, you must have something of value to be generous with.
If your goal is to become wealthy, you must surround yourself with wealthy people. The problem is wealthy people don't need much from anyone. And to be honest, they are on guard from everyone needing something from them.
I quickly learned what successful people truly needed was momentum. Their success was dependent upon their consistent growth, reach, and influence.
But how could I offer this? In 2009, I began acquiring large social media accounts from anyone who would sell them to me. I ran these accounts by posting inspirational content, quotes, and viral images. But it was my audience that many authors, influencers, and business owners needed to further their success. Later that year, I began having a variety of influential individuals offer to pay me to post their book or products or links.
But I didn't take their money.
Instead, I gave it to them for free and often. Sometimes I would drive 10,000 visitors to an author's website just because I loved their book. This naturally created the reciprocator effect. And as a result, these people felt slightly indebted to me. In return, they would make introductions to other successful leaders, set me up with companies who would purchase very expensive ad campaigns, and ultimately became close acquaintances of mine.
Generosity is less like an arrow, and more like a boomerang, it comes back to you.
So be generous. But first, create something of value to give. For me, it was an audience. What is it for you?
3. Shift From Making Money To Creating Awesome Stuff
I've met too many people who create businesses to make money. And then I've met people who create businesses to fuel their passion.
But there is a major difference here. People make things because they want to make money; the more things they make, the more money they make. What they make doesn’t really matter that much to them – they’ll make anything as long as it pays.
The other wants to make money because it allows them to make more things. They want to improve their product. They want to build a movement. The want to create another book, another community, another film. They love what they make, and they see making money as a way to do even more of what they love. They dream of building a company that creates the best products… and money just happens to be the way they can fuel their passions.
While it's very possible to find a meaningless product that can generate a million dollars, most successful entrepreneurs learn that making money with what you love is more important than make money to make money. I think the great Walt Disney said it best:
We don't make movies to make money; we make money to make more movies.
4. Spotlight Your Talent And Become A Master
One of my favorite quotes is, "Obsessed is the word lazy people use to describe the dedicated." And the word obsessed and millionaires go quite well together--almost like a disease you want to catch. Addiction at it's purest form, yet manageable by its greatest victims.
If you know me well, you'll learn I am fanatical. Everything I do is at a 10.
For example, earlier today I was walking with a friend who asked me if I had ever got into gaming. My wife quickly replied, "No. Dale was always afraid if he got into gaming it would take too much time away from his life's priorities."
It's true. My extreme dedication has left my 20's riddled with the footprints of sacrifice and lost experiences. But it's also the reason our family can enjoy our children, take vacations, and work only when we want to now in our 30's.
But at the core, I have always been focused on one thing.
Become the best marketing person I know.
It's this vision that has forced me to read almost 100 books on the topic, to dive deep into design theory, to get beyond talking and generate results, and to understanding what truly makes the human mind work. I think Steve Jobs said it best:
Be so good the world can't ignore you.
What can you become the best in the world at? What keeps you up at night? What part of your personality is primed to succeed?
If you can harness your ability to focus, fight off discouragement, and press into your gifting eventually you’ll be good. Then you’ll be great. And a few years down the road, you’ll be world-class. And then, probably without even noticing, you’ll also be a millionaire. At least that's how it worked for me.
5. Most Importantly, Launch Your Dream & Kill The Employee Mentality
It's very difficult to become a millionaire as an employee. Starting your own business is truly the path of least resistance.
But I can hear your thoughts now, "I don't know how to start a business." But neither did I. In the fall of 2013, I shifted my heart from building to teaching. My mission was to share what I've learned and to help people create a business and life they love.
After pretty much locking myself in my office for over 160 hours, I came out with StartupCamp. A 12-month coaching course to help aspiring entrepreneurs, bloggers, and dreamers start their own business. A course that would take everything I know about developing ideas and turning them into profitable ventures. Even more, I packaged it up into an easy to understand, beautifully designed, and affordable program. That dream is the website you're on now.
If you have a business idea and don't know where to begin, join the thousands of dedicated students chasing their dream here at StartupCamp. It's not a sales pitch. I don't need your money. It's just my way of helping my next million people. You can learn about the whole program in the video below.
Are you doing any of the 5 steps listed above? What was most helpful? Let me know in the comments below.
Citations & References: Dharmesh Shah, June 28th, 2014. Linkedin Article
Join my free workshop. Discover how to successfully start your own business in less than 30 days.