Let's say you want to become a millionaire. Or a billionaire.
Or well, even a billionaire. (Why not?)
The goal is clear … but the path can be anything less.
But not for Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot (No. 1,100 in Inc. 5000 of 2014 and a company that recently went public). Dharmesh sees a clear, albeit slow and difficult, path to becoming a millionaire, or to achieving the level of financial success to which he aspires.
Here is Dharmesh:
Money, of course, is not everything. Not even remotely. When it comes to your definition of success, money may be well below the list. Each person's definition of "success" is different.
Here's my definition: Success is making people who believed in you look brilliant.
Money doesn't matter that much to me, but I confess it did it all at once (probably because I didn't have much).
So let's say the money is on your list. And let's say, like millions of other people, that you would like to be a millionaire. What kinds of things should you do to increase your chances of joining the millionaires club?
Here are the steps I would suggest. They are neither fast nor easy. But they are more likely to work than the quick and easy way.
1. Stop obsessing about money
While it sounds contradictory, keeping a laser-like focus on how much you earn distracts you from doing the things that really contribute to building and increasing wealth.
So change your perspective. See money not as the primary goal, but as a by-product of doing the right thing.
2. Start tracking how many people you help, even in a very small way
The most successful people I know, both financially and in other ways, are surprisingly helpful. They are incredibly good at understanding other people and helping them achieve their goals. They know that their success is ultimately based on the success of the people around them.
So they work hard for other people to succeed: their employees, their customers, their vendors and suppliers … because they know that if they can do that, their own success will surely follow.
And they will have built a business, or a career, of which they can be truly proud.
3. Stop thinking about earning a million dollars and start thinking about serving a million people
When you only have a few customers and your goal is to make big bucks, you're incentivized to find ways to squeeze every last dollar out of those customers.
But when you find a way to serve a million people, many other benefits follow. The word of mouth effect is greatly magnified. The feedback you receive is exponentially higher, and so are your opportunities to improve your products and services. You can hire more employees and take advantage of their experience, their skills and their general genius.
And over time, your business becomes something you never dreamed of, because your customers and employees have taken you to places you couldn't even imagine.
Serve a million people, and serve them incredibly well, and the money will follow.
4. See making money as a way to earn more things
Generally speaking, there are two types of people.
You do things because you want to earn money; The more things they do, the more money they earn. What they do doesn't really matter that much to them – they will do anything as long as it's profitable.
The other wants to earn money because it allows them to do more things. They want to improve their product. They want to extend their line. They want to create another book, another song, another movie. They love what they do and see making money as a way to do even more than they love. They dream of building a company that does the best things possible … and earning money is the way to nurture that dream and build the company they love.
While it's certainly possible to find that product that everyone wants and get rich by selling that product, the most successful companies evolve and grow, and as they earn money, they reinvest that money in a relentless pursuit of excellence.
"We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies."–Walt Disney
5. Do a better thing
Choose one thing that you are already better at than most people. Single. One. Thing. Concentrate maniacally on doing that one thing. Job. To train. To learn. Practice. Evaluate. Refine. Be relentlessly self-critical, not masochistically, but to make sure you continue to work to improve every aspect of that one thing.
Financially successful people do at least one thing better than almost everyone around them. (Of course, it is useful if you choose something that is good for that, the world also values and will pay).
Excellence is its own reward, but excellence also demands a higher salary, and greater respect, greater feelings of self-esteem, greater satisfaction, a greater sense of achievement … all of which make you rich in non-monetary terms.