There used to be a simple formula for building a good American life: Go to school and make good grades. Then go to college. Then find a job with a good company. Work hard. Save money. Finally, enjoy a decent (if not lavish) retirement. For years, the middle class has dutifully followed this path. Okay, maybe it wasn't the most exciting life but it paid the bills and maybe even allowed for a week or two of vacation every year.
Amazing how much can change in a decade or two. These days the traditional path leads only to daily stress, crushing debt, and uncertainty about the future. The most remarkable part is that so many people continue to blindly follow it, says Gregory Downing - when what we really need to do is make an about-face and learn how to think about work and wealth in a whole new way.
Consider that probably half of all college graduates are moving back home because the jobs just aren't there. In some cases they're saddled with student loan debt in the six figures. Meanwhile, the price of everything from food to gas to healthcare to education itself continues to rise. Clearly, the system is broken. It's time we realize, as a society and as individuals that we need to make a huge mental shift. The government can't save us; it's in dire straits, too. Neither can any teacher in any traditional school, because the education system is caught in a time warp where college degrees and retirement savings are the be-all and end-all. The only one, who can save you, and your entire family, is you.
First, let's be clear: The entrepreneurship I espouse is NOT the "open your own restaurant and bust your butt working there seven days a week" variety. Rather, it centers on generating multiple streams of income (earned, passive, and portfolio) so that the money you make is not directly connected to the time you spend. ("Time is more valuable than money" is one of my favorite mantras.)
A single paycheck, even two paychecks added together, is no longer enough to allow a family to live comfortably and provide for the future. If you're lucky enough to get a good job - and that's a big if - you might be able to scrape by, but you'll work yourself into an early grave. And, of course, if the job goes away, the money stops. It's no way to live - and it's no way to teach your children to live.
Anyone can make the leap to entrepreneurship, and, subsequently, financial freedom. Sure, you may have to learn new practical skills - but mostly it's a matter of changing your mindset. Once you break free of what I call "middle-class programming," half the battle is won.
Here are 15 of my 40-some Universal Laws of Being an Entrepreneur that sum up the mindset needed to be successful. The following pages describe attitudes that you should adopt in your life, your learning, your money and your relationships.
5. Downing is referring to entrepreneurship. He knows firsthand how dramatically it can transform your life. Once a car dealership manager working grueling 80-hour weeks, he is now a millionaire many times over who takes four months of vacation a year. He made his wealth as a real estate investment business owner and motivational speaker, and he says regardless of the field you may choose, entrepreneurship is the only logical path to financial freedom in a global economy where all the rules have changed.