Your Ticket to Freedom
When you buy a lotto ticket you are given a shot at financial freedom. Unfortunately, the odds of winning Powerball is currently 1 in 292,201,338. At that rate you would be better served by saving a million dollars then buying a million lotto tickets.
So why do people make this bet if the odds are so bad? They have no idea how to save one million dollars, and just the idea alone seems impossible to attain. The horrible odds of the lotto is really their only way to get there.
Getting Rich is Easy
One of the bigger misperceptions many have is that you need to do something very difficult to get rich, like create a software company or come up with a crazy invention. Another misperception is that you need huge sums of money to get rich, maybe even angel investors, but that isn’t true either. You don’t have to be a genius to get rich, you just need to know the paths to getting rich and walk them. Let’s go over some other tickets to freedom that higher odds of success and will actually get to you to the place you want to be.
Starting Your Own Business
Find a Business with Low Entry Cost
When you think of starting a business a typical route that comes up is the franchise route. If you take a look at McDonald’s they charge you $45,000 just to get started, and they expect that you will pay in 1-2 million dollars, by the time you are up and running. How many cheeseburgers to you need to sell in order to break even in this model? You need a lot of time to save up the capital and if you go out of business the only person who made money was the franchise itself.
Instead, you want to try to start a business that does not cost a lot to get up and running. Somewhere between 3-10k. This way you can get started much sooner and if the idea does not work out you can recover from the loss fairly easily and take your experience to a different idea. Internet business are one of the better ways to go in this case. A virtual storefront can be setup for under $50 a month instead. Compare that to signing a 3-year lease for a physical storefront and be paying thousands a month.
Competition, Demand, Profit Margin, and Price
You want to start a business in an area with low competition. People are very brand loyal, and it’s a lot easier to get a new customer then it is to steal someone away from a competitor. You can also keep prices higher in this scenario. When there is a lot of competition you get lower prices. You also get events where competitors fail and then sell off all of their inventory at below profitable levels.
You want to make sure that your product has high demand. It can be good to niche out to a smaller audience, but if the audience gets too small then you are not going to be able to sell enough products to make the money you need. It’s always a good idea to gauge demand by looking at keyword search volume and analyzing competitor sales.
You want to sell something that has a good profit margin. Typically, making 2-3x the cost of the product is considered good. The reason for this is that you will need money for advertising, returns and other expenses. The smaller the profit margin the harder it will be for the business to grow, and you also are going to need some margin for error for the inevitable mistakes you will make long the way.
You don’t want to go too low on price. Having a low-priced product also makes it a lot harder to scale out. With a low-priced product you need to be selling thousands of products to make a profit, which makes everything a lot more difficult. Going over a price point of $100 is typically hard too. The reason is that people will put the product under the microscope when it comes to making the purchase. They look into your social media, reviews and competitors. It can be hard to compare well with this level of scrutiny when you are starting out.
Being able to get your product out in front of the customer is usually the most important thing that needs to be done for success. There have been many bad products that have out competed good products due to good advertising. Oftentimes people create their perfect product or website only to have it be lost in a sea of thousands of other websites. You need a plan to get your product out there, before you start. Looking at what is working for other competitors in the space can help here.
Ideally you want a business that you can scale as well. You want there to be an eventual shift from you doing the work to having other people do the work. An online store where you sell a digital product like software, a course or an eBook would scale very well. As long as you can find customers you do not have to worry about inventory or storefront costs. Now if you take a physical store that you sell products in it will be harder. You need to purchase more inventory to scale and that will take capital. Eventually you need to expand to another store, because a physical store relies on proximity to customers. The cost of adding another store will require additional capital as well.
Selling Your Business
When running your own business you should keep in mind the prospect of selling. Typically, you can sell your business for 3-5x profits. Selling a business is the #1 way that people become billionaires.
Another way of selling your business is issuing stock. In this scenario you keep control of your business (as long as you have the majority of shares), but you also get a boost from people who are buying into the stock. This is how many of the richest people in the world have gotten their wealth (Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates).
The pros of having a business is that it is the option with the most upside and in many cases it can be one of the fastest ways to become financially independent. The downsides are that it is not for everyone. There is a fair amount of uncertainty when running a business. You also really have to have a business mindset. One way to see if this is right for you is to start a side business. If you enjoy it and see a lot of success then you could continue to grow the side business into a full time business or start a new business.
Become an Influencer
Another business type that has produced quite a few millionaires is influencing. There are a number of different channels to become an influencer on. Social media like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube is one route to go. Blogging is a viable influencer channel as well. Typically, people monetize their channels with ads, affiliate marketing and selling their own products.
The downsides of this type of business is that it can be harder to sell at the end. For example, for a YouTube channel, you really are the product. If you decide to sell your channel the buyer will not be able to create new videos, which greatly reduces the value of the business. It’s also time intensive. For a traditional business you can eventually get to a point where it scales, and you can be vacationing on an island while your business makes you money. As an influencer you will always have to be involved, at some level, in creating the content.
Investing in the Stock Market
If you don’t really want the stress of running your own business, then what can you do? Investing in a company is a great option. You become a part owner, of the company, and your money grows as the company grows. Although there are more billionaires starting their own business, investing would be the #2 producer of billionaires.
The downsides here are that you need to find companies that are growing. Without growth, you are not going to get the stock gains you need. There can also be downturns in the market. These downturns hit all stocks, even good companies, and they take time to weather.
Get Rich Slow
As the chart below shows, if you put 6,000 a year in the SP500, starting in 1995, you would end up with a million dollars by 2021. That’s a pretty easy strategy that does not require any special knowledge of stocks to execute, although it is more of a get rich slow strategy than a get rich fast strategy.
If saving $500 a month seems hard, there are ways to do it. One way is to cut back on expenses. If you have access to a 401k or some other types of IRAs then you can invest the money pre-tax, which will greatly reduce what you need to spend. Some employers also have employee matches for 401ks.
Get Rich Fast
What if you don’t want to wait 25 years to get 1 million dollars? Try investing in growth stocks, like the FAANG stocks (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix). Back in 2012 if you had started with the same strategy of investing 6000 a year you would have made 58% profit on average and would have $250,000 by 2021 and 1 million dollars by 2024.
What if you don’t know how to pick stocks, and you don’t want to invest in an ETF like the SP500. You can find a growth ETF or mutual fund that picks more aggressive stocks for you. Right now the most popular ones are the ARK ETFs run by Kathy Wood. Last year many of them saw 100% growth, although she says the fund is shooting for 20% growth year over year on average.
You can also pick your own stocks. How many times have you used a new product and knew that that company was going to be big? Why not look it up and see if they have a stock to invest in? A great book for learning to pick stocks is Beating the Street by Peter Lynch. Peter Lynch was one of the most successful mutual fund managers of all time and had a 29.2% annual return. He coined the term 10 baggers, which is a stock that return 10x your investment. The book shows you the techniques he used to find 10 bagger stocks, which in part was powered by investing in companies that you are familiar with and understand.
If you really want to be aggressive we have a guide to picking out OTC stocks, which typically have the highest growth potential and also the highest risk.
Commodities and Crypto
Commodities and crypto are also two areas that people can make a lot of money. Unlike a business, they don’t generate anything and that can make it harder to see sustained meteoric growth. You are playing more of a supply and demand game here. There is a lot of money to be made in this space and there are crypto billionaires.
This is a more risky space for investing. A company’s stock can hold its value, especially if it is growing. In this space you can get very sharp crashes, where wealth can be wiped out overnight. Just look at the Dutch Tulip Mania or the Beanie Baby Bust for examples.
As you can see in the graph below, since 2005, gold has performed almost as well as the stock market. It’s especially interesting to note that it went up around 4x during the 2008 crisis. Gold tends to do well during inflationary times when the dollar is getting weaker.
On the other hand when the stock market is going up and inflation is going down than gold typically does not do so well. For most of the 1980s the price of gold was falling due to low inflation and a strong stock market.
At the time of writing the Federal Reserve is printing large amounts of money and many experts think, at the very least, there could be short term inflation ahead. So it’s possible that a gold bull run could be imminent.
The most popular instrument in this space is Bitcoin, but there are also a lot of other places to invest, such as Altcoins and NFTs. Due to the overall newness of the space crypto can be one of the better get rich quick schemes. By being an early adopter you can get into these instruments at a much cheaper price before they take off.
Bitcoin was originally seen as an alternative currency, but due to limitations in the platform that did not materialize as quickly as some had hoped. Currently, it is viewed more as a store to protect from inflation and currency devaluation. It is also a speculative play that can have massive growth. It tends to grow very quickly, but also can have long bust periods too.
Bitcoin is seen as a threat to other government’s fiat currencies and many countries have actually banned it. Being a new space there are fewer regulations in place, compared to the stock market.
Real estate is another sector that has produced quite a few billionaires. Typically, people buy rental properties that cash flow. Then they use that money to buy more property.
Get Rich Quicker Techniques
Buying properties with cashflow is actually a somewhat slow path to wealth. It can take 5-10 years before enough profits are made for the next property. Here are some techniques you can use to accelerate your progress:
- Buy properties in an area known for appreciation than do cash out mortgages to fund future buys.
- Create an AirBNB, which typically results in higher profits than a rental.
- Do rent to own, which allows charging of higher rents.
- Rent out rooms in the house vs the entire house. This works great in college towns, but can be a lot of extra work too.
- Live in the house for the first year, so you can put 3% down instead of 20% down. Then move and start over again.
Are we in a bubble?
The housing market went up 15%-20% in some areas this year, which rapidly outpaced wages and is the definition of a bubble. However, I would not be so quick to expect a giant correction, like we saw in 2008. That was caused by loose regulations around who could get a mortgage. Most people right now have equity in their house too, so we would not see a foreclosure wave, like we had in 2008. What is more likely is sideways movement or a smaller correction.
The next time you are thinking of buying a lotto ticket, I hope you will consider instead diverting your time and money towards one of these other wealth tickets. Remember, getting rich is easy, but it’s up to you to take the first steps!