“None will improve your lot if you yourselves do not.” – Bertolt Brecht (Roundheads and Peakheads, 1933)
This afternoon, I dropped by my brother’s house. He told me that the business he started two years ago — a mail-order program that teaches parents how to teach their children about wealth building — has grown to the point where he plans to make it his full-time job. JJF continues to take copywriting jobs for extra income, but he can see the day coming when his income from his mail-order business will be more than enough to meet his financial objectives. He already makes good money, working from home, running a business he cares about, answering to no one but himself and a few select clients, and choosing his work hours. It’s an enviable situation, one that you may be working toward yourself.
Thinking of JJF’s success, I’m reminded of how quickly this can all come to pass if you make the right moves and stick with them. It was only five or six years ago that his life was very different. As he says in the introduction to the program that he sells, he had a business that went bust, and that got him into some very significant debt — so much debt, in fact, that he had to declare personal bankruptcy.
When he began copywriting, he did so not because he wanted to be a copywriter but simply because he needed to make a lot of dough. I had given him my speech about developing a “financially valuable skill,” and he had taken it to heart. He went from zero proficiency to competence in copywriting in about a year, at which time he was making just over $60,000 in fees. During the next year, he continued to work hard and develop his skill further. That led to a quantum jump in skill and some considerable copywriting successes — which then led to higher fees and a considerably higher income.
Needless to say, those two years of development helped him get back on track financially — but he wasn’t totally satisfied. He was uninspired with the writing he was doing — promoting other people’s products — and dreamed about promoting his own product one day.
That day came — and faster than even he might have expected. About a year after he completed his second full year of copywriting, he came up with the idea of teaching parents how to teach children about money. Most of us grow up learning a lot about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but few of us learn the important life skills — such as parenting, partnering, and managing money.
So — drawing on his personal experience and his 10+ years as a financial editor — he created a program to do just that. In fact, he first created the program for his own three kids so they wouldn’t make the financial mistakes he had made. But then, after getting great feedback from neighbors and friends, he turned it into a program for other parents as well. He also immediately understood he had to bring out the “unique selling proposition” (USP) of his product if it was to succeed.
That USP is that he designed his program so that anyone can follow it — and it not only helps parents and grandparents teach their kids and grandkids good money habits from a very early age … it actually helps them begin to build wealth now so that by the time these kids are 30 or so, they’ll have a quarter- to a half-million dollars or more, even if they never make a lot of money as adults!
What’s more, these kids build this wealth themselves — with the supervision of their parents or grandparents — from little pieces of their allowance and chore money invested in the right way. (JJF is one of the only investors I know who made money in the bear market of 2000, 2001, and 2002.)
The result is that the children aren’t spoiled “trust-fund babies” who are going to blow a wad of money once they get control of it. Instead, these kids are creating their own success (with their parents’ guidance) and end up with a tremendous sense of accomplishment — as well as a small fortune — by a very early age. As these kids grow up, they learn the rewards of discipline over time and they steadily grow wiser and wealthier with each passing year — the way it should be! And those are habits that stick with them when they become young working adults, and later when they begin to raise families. After putting together the gist of this program, JJF then wrote a sales letter that did a great job of selling the concept. And, after working out some of the details with yours truly, he launched his business.
The end result was a product called “Seeds of Wealth.”
Today, that product is helping thousands of people teach thousands of children the basics of saving and investing, the secret of compound interest, the effectiveness of diversification, etc.
Following my “chicken-entrepreneurship” model, my brother kept his “day job” as a copywriter while he developed and improved his business. Month after month, after the kids went to bed and on weekends, he worked on his dream.
At first, it made barely enough money for him to break even. By the end of the first year, he pulled in over $100,000 from this “part-time” business. He’s plowed most of that back into the business, and he has continued to make extra money on top of that as a copywriter and financial writer. But now he’s making enough from “Seeds of Wealth” that he can see that pretty soon he can pocket a six-figure income — after all expenses — just by dedicating all his time to his own business.
What’s even better is that he hasn’t increased his spending during that period of time. In fact, he recently showed me how he used some of his increased earnings to turn a $30,000 real-estate investment into an $85,000 profit in the last year and a half. Overall, he’s improved his lifestyle a great deal by doing most of the things we’ve talked about in “Living Rich” (his house and garden are beautiful, he enjoys more time with his family, takes great vacations, etc.), but most of the extra money he’s making is going right into the same investment program he recommends to his customers.
It’s just a matter of a year or two at the most before he’ll be living — completely and enjoyably — his dream. And to think it all started not so many years ago in bankruptcy!
How are you doing with your dream? Is it still in the planning stages — or have you started doing something active to pursue it?
You can do it. So do it.[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]