There is a significant difference between Wealth and Riches, and which one you choose will likely define whether your business is successful or not.
I was at a friend’s house in Maryland who lives on the water. We were sitting on his deck looking out over the water and I noticed that his neighbor had a nice 30’ sloop docked at his house. I mentioned it to my friend and without pausing he said, “Yeah, it’s a nice one, but I never see it go out.” I asked him to explain and he said, “Every spring he pulls it out of the water to knock the shellfish off and paint it, but I don’t remember the last time I actually saw him take it out. If it’s out, it’s certainly never out enough for anyone around here to notice.”
This guy was rich, but he definitely wasn’t wealthy. Riches equals money, but Wealth equals “the ability to choose what to do with my time.” Riches just accumulates money and stuff, but Wealth creates freedom. Too often business owners don’t make this distinction and buy off on the notion that piling up the money is the definition of success. This is leftover thinking from the 1980s and 90s that was expressed in the bumper sticker “He who dies with the most toys wins.” We got a chance to try it during the 1990s and 2000s, and it came up short.
Too often we intend that our business should throw off money, so at best, that’s all it does. But business should give us three things; two resources and a benefit.
Resource One: Money
You can do a lot of things with money, but getting money by itself is not a good goal. Ask anyone who has made a lot of it – Making money is not an empowering vision. Do you have an empowering vision that is bigger than making money? If not, you will likely never make a lot of it. The blue flame coming out your backside will come from having a vision for something that grips you, and money will just be a way to get there.
Resource Two: Time
Most business owners never ask their business for time, just money. So they get what they ask for – some money (usually not a lot). I expect my business to throw off both time and money, and relentlessly work to get the business to the point where it creates both assets for me. Without time, money is meaningless – it’s just a boat that never goes out.
The Benefit: Significance
The most important, least asked question in business is “Why?”. Most business owners have no idea why they are in business, so it’s no surprise they don’t know where their business is taking them. What is it that you could do with your business to create significance for you, your family, your employees, and in the world around you? The bigger that vision is, the more likely you are to succeed in your business. Significance, or creating meaning should be the reason you are in business. If you have a Big Why, you will be much more motivated to design your business in a way that it throws off both a lot of money and a lot of time. When you have both, you are Wealthy and can now choose how you will create significance in the world around you.
There are a lot of rich people in the world who don’t have freedom and haven’t done what they could have to create significance in the world around them. There are a lot more struggling business owners who just focused on making money and never made much of it because they never got a Big Why for being in business.
Go for “Wealth” – time, money and significance. We get what we intend, not what we hope for. Stop hoping your business will get there – random hope is a terrible business strategy. Instead, intend to build a business around your Big Why, and intend for it to throw off time and money so you can create significance. It’s not “He who dies with most toys wins”, but “He who lives with the best Lifetime Goals wins.”
Wouldn’t you rather leave a legacy than a pile of cash and a boat that never goes out?