Good news: early retirement-or if it’s too late for that, comfortable retirement-isn’t just a pipe dream. A new book by Michael Masterson says you can earn seven figures . . . in seven short years.
Hoboken, NJ (October 2006) – Early and retirement may be two words that you’ve never used in the same sentence. The typical tortoise-like investment strategy is unlikely to get anyone there ahead of schedule, and those failing three pillars of retirement (Social Security, Medicare, and private pensions) certainly won’t be any help. In fact, if you’re edging into Baby Boomer territory with barely a cent in the bank, you’re doubtless wondering if retirement is an option at all. But Michael Masterson has good news: you can supercharge your wealth-building efforts to reach millionaire status in just seven short years.
“You are the only person who can increase your savings and fund a decent retirement,” says Masterson, author of the new book Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire (Wiley, October 2006, ISBN: 0471786756).
“What’s more, the old ‘pinch-save-and-wait’ method of wealth building is not the answer for most people. Even if you have the time to wait – which no Baby Boomer does – the pinching part of the equation isn’t much fun.”
Enter Masterson’s new book. Seven Years to Seven Figures divulges real-world-tested strategies that can help anyone of any age achieve financial independence: from anxious Baby Boomers who’ve barely saved a cent to ambitious younger people who want to maximize their earning potential, enjoy a comfortable living, and maybe even retire early.
Masterson provides powerful methods for accelerating your wealth significantly in seven years. Best of all, you won’t have to quit your job and risk losing everything. In fact, the author strongly suggests that you become a “chicken entrepreneur,” starting your own business on the side. (“Chicken entrepreneurship is the only start-your-own-business strategy that I recommend,” he notes. “Since you can’t know if your brilliant new business idea will work out until you’ve given it a good test for a year or two, my advice is don’t quit your day job.”)
The book highlights eight distinct ways that men and women made their fortunes-each according to their specific set of circumstances. The most important part of all of this, as Masterson points out, is that there are specific, recurring, reproducible patterns that make up the core of creating wealth quickly: 1) They all earned high incomes; 2) They all had equity in a business; and 3) Most of them invested in real estate.
Here are seven tips, excerpted from Seven Years To Seven Figures, that will show you how to gain real wealth, fast:
1. You can get wealthy as an employee. Most people who achieve fast-track millionaire status do so by starting their own company or investing cold hard cash. However, as Masterson’s book makes clear, you don’t have to go that route. It tells the story of Audrey, who got involved in a start-up direct mail business on the side and became integral to the company’s success. After proving herself, she asked to be made a partner in the company, essentially turning her role in the company into equity. This bold move helped her income grow exponentially.
In Seven Years to Seven Figures, Masterson lays out the four-step plan that led to Audrey’s financial success.
1. Get a marketing, sales, or other key job with a company that has growth potential. Opt for a smaller, faster-growing company over a larger, staid one. Look for a job that gives you complete control over the selling process, from inventing the product to closing the sale and going back to the customer for more sales.
2. Make yourself invaluable to that company by helping it grow. In fact, make your new motto, “Grow, grow, grow.” In order to reach your goal of financial success, you will want your importance within the company to grow, and you will want to ensure that the company itself is growing.
3. Make yourself known as a dependable, trustworthy moneymaker. Show your boss or bosses that you are good at making money, and publicize your progress.
4. Convince the stockholders that the company will be more profitable if they give you profit-based incentives. Don’t waste your time listing your responsibilities, summarizing your track record, and recounting all the projects you’ve completed. To earn equity in the company, you will need to do one of two things: 1. Find out what the company’s biggest financial problem is and solve it, or 2. Discover a new way to increase sales and put it into action.
2. Redeploy your knowledge to create a second stream of income. The most common way to create a second income based on your existing knowledge is to promote yourself as a speaker, author, or consultant. You may be thinking, “Sounds like that is easier said than done.” And in some ways it is. You will have to be willing to devote several thousand hours to becoming a master in your skill. But think of it this way: whatever business you’re in, if you have been practicing a useful skill for ten or twenty years, you have to know something that other people want to learn. The payoff of becoming an expert in your field will be substantial. Just be sure to narrow down your field of expertise so that you can master your subject quickly and effectively.
3. Chicken Entrepreneurship 101: A few simple ways to start a side business. Masterson suggests that you start small and build gradually to limit your risk. Shooting for an extra $25,000 a year is a good-and reasonable-place to start. There are all sorts of ways to supplement your income by this amount:
“If you have a financially valued skill, you can expect to earn between $100 and $500 an hour,” says Masterson. “At $100 an hour, you would have to work 250 hours-an extra five hours a week-to make $25,000. At $500 an hour, it would take you only about an hour a week to reach that goal.”
4. Use the power of mentors to help you avoid common mistakes and create profitable shortcuts to success. Your mentor should be your learning coach-someone you can talk to and trust, someone who provides advice, feedback, and support. More to the point, he should help you learn the secrets to success in your field. Here are a few tips for finding a good mentor:
uLook around your industry to find five successful business leaders who retired within the past two to five years. This two-to-five-year time frame is important. If they’ve been retired for any longer, they could be out of touch. Any sooner and they’re not yet bored enough with retirement to miss thinking about work.
uWrite each of these five people a short letter expressing genuine admiration for their careers. Compliment them on specific achievements. Then ask for advice on your own career. Offer an invitation to lunch. Or, if they’re located out of your local area, ask for a fifteen-minute phone call. Odds are at least one of the five will respond positively to your invitation and give you a little of his time. If you find that you get along especially well, you’ve got yourself a mentor!
uOnce you’ve found your mentor, make a list of the goals you want to work on with him. What do you want out of the relationship? What do you feel you need to learn? What can this person best teach you?
5. Ride on coattails. Joint-venture deals are enormously helpful to growing businesses, because they simplify operations and dramatically reduce cash flow requirements. Finding suitable candidates for coattail marketing should begin the way networking for ideas and support begins: by making a list of the businesses and media outlets that serve the industry you are going into. Just get on the Internet and locate a trade organization. If that path doesn’t lead you where you need to go, you can assemble a list of candidates, one at a time, by making phone calls and requesting “informational” interviews.
In his book Masterson tells the story of Alan, who formed a beneficial coattail deal with Rick, a newsletter publisher. Alan wanted to start a new business and Rick was looking for a nutritional supplement company that would be willing to invest in a direct-marketing campaign to target the readers of his health newsletter in order to generate extra “back-end” revenues for his publishing business. With Rick’s assistance Alan formed a little company with the express purpose of selling a single product (multi-vitamins) to a single marketplace (the publishing company’s subscribers). Alan would provide the product and pay to have the orders fulfilled. Rick’s publishing company would provide free access to its customers and even cover the printing costs of the inserted advertisements. By being positioned in Rick’s publications on a preferential basis, Alan’s products enjoyed a tacit endorsement. And when the initial test results proved positive, each party was willing to reinvest its profits to expand the business.
6. Learn the value of back-end sales. The basis of every business, large or small, is sales. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of sales: 1. The first sale-the one that turns a prospect into a customer, and 2. All other sales-what we in the direct marketing industry call “back-end” sales. Back-end sales create (or should create) most of your profits. This is because response rates are generally much higher and sales costs are much lower. Although many businesses don’t maximize the enormous potential of marketing to the back-end, the best and most successful companies become masterful at it. The secret to making back-end marketing work is to recognize the natural curve of enthusiasm that is part of every sales transaction and to design your back-end selling strategy to take full advantage of it.
“When a prospect responds to your sales message, something important happens,” says Masterson. “For a certain period of time, he lives in a heightened state of expectation. Because of the emotional messages that are now implanted in his brain, every time he sees your product, hears your company’s name, or sees your product’s logo, he will experience certain hopes, feelings, and desires that-if you do your job properly-will result in additional sales and could lead to what is known as a ‘buying frenzy.’ This means after your customer purchases one item-let’s say a new car-he’ll want to go out and buy all of the bells and whistles that go with it. It’s very important to understand this phenomenon, because it allows you to take advantage of your easiest and most profitable sales.”
7. Five secrets to finding and working with the right people. Choosing who you will work with will be one of the biggest decisions you make when you start your new business. Masterson reveals five secrets that he has used to help him choose the right people to partner and work with:
1. A really great partner is someone who has the potential to take the long voyage with you. Say to yourself, “This person may be fine now, but will he be able to do a great job when the business is ten times this size?” If you can’t answer affirmatively, look for someone else.
2. When you hire or partner with someone, he should understand that your commitment is to a particular vision. If you can inspire him to commit to that vision too, it will be much easier for you to work together and make the right business-building decisions.
3. Think about your own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your partner has qualities that complement yours.
4. Make sure the business is always involved in providing a product or service that you both like…or don’t do it.
5. Make sure you both agree on the way you would handle hypothetical situations that could affect the business-what you and your partner would do, for example, if one of you wanted out.
“If you choose to partner with the wrong person, it could mean the end of your business,” says Masterson. “At the very least it could cost you lots of valuable time and energy. Don’t underestimate the importance of this decision-it’s probably as critical as choosing the right spouse.”
Ultimately, Seven Years to Seven Figures provides hope for readers of all ages who think early or lavish retirement is something that only other people can achieve. As long as you do your part, the book promises, seven-figure riches aren’t only for the exceedingly smart or lucky. Anyone can become a millionaire if they follow Masterson’s plan and stay focused on their goal.
“I want people to know that wealth is in everyone’s grasp,” says Masterson. “It may not seem that way if you have tons of credit card debt or if your monthly income provides you just enough money to get by, but it’s true. The hard part is finding the courage and confidence to take those first steps. I hope Seven Years to Seven Figures will serve as a confidence builder for everyone getting started. Only you can create your own wealth, and you can’t afford to wait.”
Michael Masterson has been making money for himself and others for almost four decades. At one time or another, he’s owned and run companies that were public/private, onshore/overseas, local/international, service-/product-oriented, retail/wholesale/direct mail, and even profit/not-for-profit. Masterson is the author of Automatic Wealth: The Six Steps to Financial Independence, Power and Persuasion: How to Command Success in Business and Your Personal Life, and Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire.
Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire (Wiley, October 2006, ISBN: 0471786756) is available in bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797.
Dottie DeHart, Rocks-DeHart Public Relations