I’m looking for ways to supplement my primary income

“I have a strong background in Corporate Finance, and I’m looking for ways to supplement my primary income or to transition into my own business. Most of your recommendations are for people with sales and marketing backgrounds. Do you have suggestions for someone with more quantitative skills and experience?”

Shane L.

Pittsburgh, PA


Dear Shane,

You are wrong about my suggestions. I am very much aware that many ETR readers are on the “wrong side of the ledger.” By that I mean they’re in jobs that are necessary but don’t generate sales. They know their work is critical, but their bosses may see them as an expense, not a rainmaker.

The solution is not to find some business that doesn’t require sales and marketing skills. There is no such business. The solution is to learn sales and marketing while you do your job. This is not nearly as difficult as it seems. I explain exactly how to do it in Automatic Wealth and Automatic Wealth for Grads.

I suggest you buy a copy of each and study the relevant chapters very carefully.

The CEO of my largest client began as an outside auditor, worked his way up to CFO, and then made the lateral move. He made that move by devoting hundreds of hours to learning sales and marketing. The combination of his financial savvy and his newfound sales and marketing knowledge made him a very good candidate for CEO when the company moved from a Stage Two to a Stage Three business. (What I mean by that is explained in Ready, Fire, Aim… another book that you should own.)

Now he’s making a very nice multi-six-figure annual income. And he’s not the only one. I know at least half a dozen former number crunchers who have made this transition. You can too!

Here’s a quick set of goals for you.

1. Buy the books I recommended above – today – and start studying them.

2. Set up a meeting with your company’s owner. Tell him you want to take more responsibility for increasing profits. Tell him you don’t want to be paid to do so. Tell him you simply want to make yourself more valuable.

3. Find out the selling secrets of your business. Most important, find out how customers are acquired. Become an expert at your company’s optimum selling strategy. (This is explained in Chapter 5 of Ready, Fire, Aim.)

4. Make friends with the most successful marketer in your business. Ask him to be your mentor. Learn from him. Tell him you want to help him do his job better. Deliver on that promise.

5. Spend at least 10 hours a week doing all this. Within six months, you will be ready to start your own side business.

Let me know when you get to that point and I’ll give you advice on what to do next.

[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.]