Which of these would you rather do?
- Strip down to your undies and take public transit into the city.
- Twerk on live television with Teddy Ruxpin.
- Have your financial statements leaked online and then analyzed by experts on CNBC.
Actually that last one might actually happen. Thanks NSA.
Money is a sensitive and important topic. Before I go any further let me say this. I have lived at both ends of the money spectrum. As a poor foster kid in Oklahoma unsure of where my next meal would come and today as someone named to Inc Magazine’s 30 under 30 list of fancy pants entrepreneurs.
(Note from the editor: it’s true, Josh has been on both sides… don’t let the twerking with Teddy Ruxpin fool you. This guy’s been there, done that.)
The point is this: how you think about money profoundly affects how you act toward it and around it. Too many of us have myths about money floating around in our heads… and they’re harming us.
This is especially true of idealistic and creative folks that I know.
Money Myth 1: I don’t care about money, I care about the product.
This sounds nice — and I hear it a lot (mainly from good-hearted, well-intentioned people starting businesses centered around providing a genuinely helpful service).
It sounds good. It is en vogue to say that money is evil. It is en vogue to say that money is not my emphasis. After all, who wants to be in the 1 percent? Bane will destroy your Bat Cave and kill you.
The fact of the matter, however, is this: money matters.
Money is neither good nor evil. It is neutral. It is amoral. Like wood, or steel, it’s a resource. You can use that resource to build a variety of things. A bridge, a school or a tank. But you need that resource.
And it takes money to get your product out into the world to make a bigger impact. So if you really care about your product, you’ll care about the money side of things from that perspective.
Money Myth 2: More money will solve my problems.
To misquote Notorious B.I.G., some entrepreneurs think “Mo money, No problems.”
Some people think that if they could just have more money, all their problems would go away and their business would begin thriving immediately.
This is patently false.
Businesses grow because of disciplines and systems. They don’t grow because of money. Money is simply a magnifier.
It makes your brilliance shine brighter, or your foolishness look colossally stupid.
Here’s why: a lot of times you can compensate with money and use money to make problems appear to go away. I say “appear” because the problems are still actually there. The underlying business model has not changed. Your underlying business systems are still sloppy. The way you obtain and retain clients is still flawed. Money is just a superficial Band-Aid that hides the real problems with your business model.
Money won’t make you better. Training – frameworks – structures – accountability. Those are the kinds of things that make you better.
I learned this lesson most profoundly by listening to NPR’s This American Life with Ira Glass (Note: I am only using this example because it makes me seem erudite and classy to say I listen to NPR… I kid, I kid.)
In his program titled Nice Work If You Can Get It, Mr. Glass interviewed multiple lottery winners and asked them if their life was better or worse. Shockingly, nearly every single one said worse and they wished they had NOT won the money.
It would seem like having untold millions would automatically make your life better. But it doesn’t. It just exacerbates and magnifies who you are: what structures you have in your life, where you’re going and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Given to the right people, money can be an incredible magnifier of talent, dreams and vision. But given to a person with the wrong structures and paradigms and frameworks – it can be positively destructive.
Money is like a shovel. You can use it to build a bigger mountain, or dig your own grave. Uplifting, I know.
Money Myth 3: If I just do good work, the money will come to me.
Some lovely people believe if they just create a great product, it will sort itself out because the marketplace will value their creation and people will flock to it in droves.
Look. Mountain Dew is not qualitatively a better product then say, that generic “Mountain Mist.”
But it sells 10 times more.
Because it’s not just about having a great product. It’s about building and leveraging a platform. I have found the best way to ensure that I make money long-term is to figure out a way to insure that I am genuinely helping more people.
The key to making more money is to make things that are more valuable to more people.
For example, if you are an author, and you figure out how to write a book, and sell it to 10 people, and those 10 people to read it, then that’s good. 10 people have the power of your information and you have $100 or so in revenue.
But then, think about if you were able to get that book into the hands of 1,000 people. An economist might say, “Hey, that’s 100 times the money.” Which is true. But put another way, it’s also 100 times the impact.
Cash is merely a byproduct of the number of people you have effectively helped.
The bottom line is this: Money matters. And it doesn’t. Help people and make something you care about.
Which money myth have you struggled with and what’s your mindset about money? Let me know in the comments below.