I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. –Thomas Jefferson
There is an intangible quality that most financially successful people have that others don’t that I call “The Hustle Factor.” They work harder and get a lot more done than everyone else. Opportunities tend to show up on their doorstep and the immediately jump on an opportunity when the right one shows up. They tend to be more well-known than most people in the community because they put themselves out there, intentionally build relationships and regularly attend networking events. They regularly set goals and then do whatever it takes to achieve them. Quite simply, they have more hustle than everyone else.
If you want to achieve personal and financial freedom over the next ten years or so, you are going to have to hustle like you never have before. You are going to have to work harder than you ever have in your life. You will be juggling multiple projects at once and working more than the traditional nine-to-five. You are going to have to put yourself out there and make yourself known to your local business community so that the right opportunities show up at your door. By doing these things, you will find new opportunities to increase your income and accomplish substantially more than your peers that aren’t participating in the ten-year turnaround.
Taking Massive Action
If you want to make a massive financial change in your life over the next ten years, you have to take massive action. People who are extremely successful work much harder and get a lot more done than those that are merely average. They work more hours, work more efficiently and leverage the labor of others through delegation and outsourcing. They learn more and are willing to do things that make them uncomfortable. If you want to want to succeed financially, you are going to have to do more, work faster and make some mistakes. Financial success follows massive action.
You can’t sort-of, kind-of have a financial turnaround by slowly implementing the recommendations in this book over the next few years. You have to get fired up and extremely motivated. Start implementing the action steps outlined in this book today. Attack your financial situation from multiple angles in order to get real traction. You are going to have to increase your income, comb through your budget line-by-line, learn to invest better and become a life-long learner all at once. If you want to be successful, you are going to do a lot more stuff than average people do. Work harder, work faster, work more efficiently and accomplish more to be successful in your ten-year turnaround.
How to Make Opportunities Show Up at Your Door
There’s a common assumption that financially successful people are luckier than others. They were born at the right time and place and had the right opportunities put before them. While this is true in some cases, more often than not successful people create their own luck by putting themselves out there, making personal connections and looking for opportunities. If a lot of people in your community know who you are, what you are good at and what kind of work or business opportunities you are looking for, your name will be at the top of everyone’s mind when an opportunity comes up that would be a good fit for you.
Over the last five years, I have built a reputation in my city as an expert in creating and growing Internet-based businesses. Because of this, the two owners of USGolfTV (www.usgolftv.com), a digital publishing company in the golf industry, came to me when they wanted to take their business to the next level in 2014. One of the owner’s wives regularly saw my social media postings about online business and suggested that they meet with me. Initially, I met with them over lunch to see if I could help them out and give them some ideas. After meeting with them a couple of times, it was clear there was a good fit and we decided to become business partners. I acquired a stake in that company in August 2014 and was able to leverage a lot of knowledge and a little bit of time to grow their business.
The company more than doubled its annual revenue in the first full year we were in business together. We also grew their email list from about 5,000 subscribers to more than 75,000 subscribers. Now, I own a piece of a profitable company that I probably would have never otherwise heard of if the owners had not personally sought me out. Because of my reputation as a successful online entrepreneur, “Matthew Paulson” was the first name that came up when they started telling people they were looking for some outside help to grow their online business.
Personal Networking that Works
In order to attain top of mind positioning for a particular industry in your community, people first have to know who you are. Five years ago, no one in the entrepreneurial community in Sioux Falls had any idea who I was. I was a relative recluse that primarily worked at home and rarely if ever attended personal networking events. As a natural introvert, I had no particular desire to make a big name for myself in my local community until I came to the realization that I was losing out on a lot of valuable connections and potential business partners and investment opportunities as a result. Toward the end of 2013, I decided that I was going to introduce myself to the entrepreneurial community in my city and beyond. However, I didn’t want to set a fuzzy and immeasurable goal of simply being “better connected” to my community.
I decided I would focus my personal networking efforts in three areas:
- Meeting other entrepreneurs for lunch and coffee
- Strategically attending and sponsoring local events
- Producing content to establish myself as an authority in online entrepreneurship
Making Personal Connections through Coffee and Lunch
Like most introverts, I’m much better at having a one-on-one conversation than chatting in a large group. I figured that instead of chatting with a lot of people at once, I could simply have a lot of one-on-one conversations with other entrepreneurs. I decided that every Monday, I would ask three people if they wanted to have lunch or coffee “in the next week or two” (but mostly lunch, since I like to eat).
I started with people that were friends and acquaintances then moved on to loose acquaintances and other people that I would meet at events. Since my first book came out, I have had an increasing number of people ask to buy me lunch, which has made the process even easier. I typically have two or three lunch dates each week with other entrepreneurs, ministry leaders and business leaders in the area.
I don’t have any secret strategy to setup lunch and coffee meetings. I simply email or send a Facebook message to the person and tell them that I’m interested in hearing about what’s going on their life and business and ask if they are interested in going out to lunch. Prior to having lunch with people, I’ll think about a few different things that I want to ask them about so there’s plenty of potential conversation topics. After I have lunch with someone, I’ll put a note in my calendar 2-3 months later to see if they want to grab lunch again in the near future. That’s really all there is to it.
Personal Branding Through Content Creation
The people that are most interesting to talk to at networking and community events are those that have built successful businesses. People that “someday” or “might” want to build a business (commonly known as “wantrapreneurs”), just aren’t all that interesting to talk to. I knew that if I was going to be able to network with successful entrepreneurs, I would have to establish myself as someone that has real business chops.
I decided to start writing about entrepreneurship and began writing one article every week on my personal blog. I also actively followed people on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook that I wanted to meet. That way, when I ask someone if they want to grab lunch, I’m not seen as some stranger that probably wants to pitch them on some multi-level marketing scheme, but as the guy whose blog posts they’ve been reading for the last several weeks or months.
Personal Networking through Event Attendance
I attend a number of local business, leadership and entrepreneurship conferences each year, but they aren’t really all good networking opportunities. Since the focus at these events is primarily on the speakers, there’s just not a ton of time to talk to people. I have had much better luck making personal connections by attending weekly and monthly meet-ups for people that are interested in entrepreneurship. You tend to see a lot of the same people at regular meet-up groups, which makes relationship building much easier. When I attend a weekly or monthly event, my only goal is to introduce myself to one person that I haven’t already met. I can usually even identify who I want to introduce myself to ahead of time by seeing who has RSVP’d to any given event on Facebook. If there’s someone I don’t get a chance to meet, there’s always next time.
One of my favorite meet-ups is 1 Million Cups (www.1millioncups.com), which is a weekly networking event in dozens of different cities in the United States. You can usually find local business and entrepreneurship events by looking on www.meetup.com and by looking at events in your area on Facebook. You should check and see if there is a co-working space in your community. Co-working spaces often serve as a community center for entrepreneurs and other business minded people. You might also check and see if your local chamber of commerce sponsors any local events. If you live in a city of any meaningful size, there are probably business networking events that are already happening. You just have to go and find them. If there aren’t any events to be found, you could be the person to start a meet-up or other event, which would automatically make you the center of the new community you help create.
While the strategies that I use for personal networking might not be ideal for everyone, they have served me extremely well as a way to build a reputation as an entrepreneurial thought-leader. I now have far more opportunities that present themselves to me and I get asked at least once every other week if I want to go into business with someone. While most of the opportunities that show up at my doorstep aren’t worth pursuing, every now and then a great business or investment opportunity will come by that’s too hard to pass up.
How to Evaluate Opportunities
Not all opportunities that present themselves to you will be equally interesting. If someone wants you to sign-up for Amway underneath them or clean their garage for $20.00, you probably already know that those particular opportunities aren’t worth pursuing. While it’s usually pretty easy to sniff out really bad opportunities, sometimes other opportunities are less clear. You might not immediately know if a new job opportunity, personal networking opportunity or other business opportunity is worth pursuing because you just aren’t sure what you would be singing up for.
Here are the ten questions I ask myself when evaluating each opportunity.
- Who is the person presenting the opportunity? Are they reputable? What’s in it for them?
- Does this opportunity leverage my unique skills, abilities and strengths?
- How much of my time would it take to pursue this opportunity?
- What kind of economic value would I be able to extract from this opportunity?
- Is this opportunity worth my time?
- What’s the likelihood that I will successfully be able to execute on this opportunity?
- What other opportunities will I be unable to pursue if I pursue this opportunity?
- Does this opportunity fit-in with my long-term goals and objectives?
- Am I genuinely excited about pursuing this opportunity?
- What additional information would I want to know about this opportunity?
Whenever you are presented with an opportunity, ask yourself the ten questions listed above to determine whether or not the opportunity is worth pursuing. If you don’t have enough information to answer these questions, go out and get the information that you need to answer these questions and it will usually become clear if you should pursue an opportunity or not.
Seize Your Opportunities
People regularly ask me, “What’s next for you and your business?” They think that I always have plans mapped out for months at a time and think that there’s a big opportunity or strategy that I’ll be pursuing for the next several months. I never have a good answer to that question, because I jump on new opportunities right away and often have very little in terms of pending opportunities that I haven’t already taken advantage of. When an opportunity does present itself to me, I don’t ask myself when do I need to get moving on this opportunity by? Instead, I ask myself how quickly I can get started on taking advantage of this opportunity. When I become aware of a new potential marketing strategy for my business or learn a better way to do something, it’s rare that I haven’t started leveraging that opportunity within 24 hours of hearing about it.
Every now and then a big opportunity will present itself to you. This might be a shot at a new higher-paying job, the opportunity to meet an important business leader in your community, a chance to start a new business or grow your existing business, or a gig to make a lot of extra money on the side. When one of these opportunities show up, jump on it right away. You don’t know how long that opportunity is going to be available for, so don’t delay. Someone else may take advantage of the opportunity or the person presenting the opportunity may just change their mind. Take immediate action so that you can seize the opportunity in the moment and be ready when the next opportunity shows up at your doorstep.
If you want to achieve massive financial success throughout the course of your life, you are going to need help from mentors, business owners and other professional networking contacts. It’s very rare that someone accomplishes anything notable alone. Start building your base of personal networking contacts through one-on-one meetings, attending networking events and creating your personal brand today so that valuable business and career opportunities start showing up at your door.
- Make a list of seven things you will do in the next week to get closer to financial freedom and do one of them each day.
- Ask three people that would be valuable personal networking contacts to lunch in the next week.
- Find a schedule of local personal networking events and attend at least two of them in the next 30 days