We love to read books and articles about millionaires. We also love to read articles about how they did it. Definitely, we are dying to read articles on how to become one.
Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, author of the best-selling book, “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,” presents in his next book, “The Millionaire Mind,” eight true-to-life rules for economic success. For this book, he surveyed 1,371 millionaires who have accumulated substantial wealth but use little or no consumer credit.
The author uncovers exciting answers to questions that are foremost in our minds when thinking of becoming a millionaire:
- What success factors made these people wealthy in one generation?
- What part did luck and school grades play?
- How did they find the courage to take financial risks?
- What are their spouses like and how did they choose them?
- How do they run their households?
- How do they buy and sell their homes?
- What are their favorite leisure activities?
The book’s main message for entrepreneurs: it pays to think differently from the crowd. And avoid crippling debts.
Take for example the husband-and-wife team of Donald and Winifred Sonner of the Southern Bloomer Manufacturing Company. Donald never had a job in his life – at least not working for someone else. He became a millionaire at age twenty-four but says he has been up and down the ladder many times since he became one.
Donald made his fortune by engaging in unusual markets with less-than-top-quality goods. He bought and sold the seconds and the odd-lot cloth at the textile mills. What he could not sell, he sold as rags to the textile industries.
The couple also almost cornered the market for gun-cleaning patches, which Donald makes from the scrap gathered from the cutting room after he’s made his garments (which, of course came from imperfect clothing materials). Having an endless supply of scrap, the business grew substantially.
Once, he thought of prisons and mental institutions and realized that he could offer lower quality uniforms and undergarments that would go through their heavy steam laundry. He also offered more clothing for the same amount of money. He says, “When you have something to sell, you’ve got to learn where there’s a market”.
What does it take to succeed? For Donald Sonner, it is tenacity and not keeping yourself drowned in debt. As he says, “A lot of people I don’t have anything in common with, they talk about payments. I wouldn’t have anything if I had a payment on for anything in this world. Borrowed money has been my downfall. Today I wouldn’t borrow a dime.”
“You’ve got to do one of two things. Either have a master’s degree in a good field or work like hell and use your mind to start small,” Donald Sonner advises.
Borrowing too much money ranks high on the list of bad business ideas.
“Borrowing a lot of money for a new business is the worst thing in the world. If you don’t have any money, you learn how to do things without. If you have money, you make mistakes. The more money, the bigger the mistakes. You’re paying interest twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you don’t have any banks breathing down your throat maybe you don’t do as much-but it doesn’t take so much to feed them.”
Another common downfall of start-up ventures is too much inventory, he says.
“Inventory is the death of a lot of small businesses. I always thought the produce business was good, because you either sell it or you smell it, so you learn to make it move.”
The book deals with other facets of the millionaire mind and backs these claims with statistical research. According to Dr. Stanley, economic success comes as a result of “hard work, focus, courage, not following the crowd with ‘me too’ product offerings, and choice of spouse.”
You, too, can become a millionaire if you keep in mind these eight important elements of the economic success equation:
- Understand the key success factors our economy continues and will continue to reward: hard work, integrity and focus.
- Never allow a lackluster academic record to stand in the way of becoming economically productive.
- Have the courage to take some financial risk. And learn how to overcome defeat.
- Select a vocation that is not only unique and profitable; pick one you love.
- Be careful in selecting a spouse. Those who are economically productive married husbands or wives who had the characteristics that are compatible with success.
- Operate an economically productive household. Many millionaires prefer to repair or refinish rather than buy new.
- Follow the lead of millionaires when selecting a home. Study, search, and negotiate aggressively.
- Adopt a balanced lifestyle. Many millionaires are “cheap dates.” It does not take a lot of money to enjoy the company of your family and friends.