As a small business mentor, I frequently encounter clients that know they want to control their own destiny and become a business owner but have no idea where to start. Too often, they are looking for that get rich quick idea, so they ask me; “How did you create two multimillion-dollar businesses?” They want to know my get rich idea so they can attempt to duplicate what worked for me.
The world is full of get rich quick idea schemes. Most are simply designed to separate the buyer from their money, such as “How to make a million dollars in a year working just one hour per day”, or “How to become a writer and earn $150 per hour”. I’m sure you’ve seen these headlines before. The problem is that no two people have the same knowledge, network, aspirations, or life experiences.
Every time I’m asked the question, it reminds me of a story told by Russell Conwell that demonstrates that it is far better to look inward than outward for a get rich quick idea.
Russell Herman Conwell was a lawyer and Baptist minister. He is most remembered for raising seven million dollars that he used to start Temple University in 1884. Conwell raised all that money- over $175 million in today’s money- to found Temple University by giving a lecture based on a book he later published called, “Acres of Diamonds”
The story was the account of an African farmer. This farmer heard tales about other settlers who had made millions by discovering diamond mines. These tales of riches so excited the farmer, he could hardly wait to sell his farm and search for diamonds himself. He sold his farm and spent the rest of his life wandering the vast African continent, unsuccessfully searching for the gleaming gems which brought such high prices in the markets of the world. Broke, in a fit of despondency, he threw himself into a river and drowned.
Meanwhile, the man who had bought his farm found a large and unusual stone in the stream which cut through the property. The stone turned out to be a huge diamond of incredible value. The farmer later discovered that the farm was covered with them and that farm became one of the world’s richest diamond mines.
The first farmer had owned literally acres of diamonds but sold them for practically nothing to look for them elsewhere. If he would have only taken the time to study, prepare and learn what diamonds looked like in their rough and uncut state and thoroughly explored the land he owned, he would have found the millions he sought right on his own property.
The story of the African farmer demonstrates that each of us at this moment are standing in the middle of our own acres of diamonds if we have the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore the work in which we’re now engaged to find it. There’s nothing sadder than a determined entrepreneur who wastes their entire life running from one get rich quick idea to another looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, never staying with any one thing long enough to find it.
No matter what your goal may be, the road to getting rich is likely in the vocation where you are now employed. Most people think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. They covet what others have and are lured into believing that to get it, they need to start on a new path. Instead of realizing that there are no really bad businesses, there are just those people who don’t know enough to see the opportunities right under their noses.
My dad was fond of saying that “Luck is a matter of having the ability to spot an opportunity and having the ability to execute on it” Most people who build successful businesses see their work as an opportunity for growth and development. They prepare themselves for the opportunities that surround them every day. Preparation is the key. Preparation in this context means becoming so good at what you do, you actually produce the opportunities that you seek to come your way and not by looking for a get rich quick idea else ware.
It takes knowledge to know what diamonds look like in their rough state. Great opportunities are hiding in every aspect of our work. In order to begin prospecting your acres of diamonds, start by looking at your job as if you were a stranger who considers your pasture greener than their own.
Start by learning more about your current industry. Ask yourself some questions like:
- When did your industry begin?
- Why do people enter your career field?
- How did it begin?
- Why did it begin?
- Who started it?
- What is the average annual revenue of a business in your industry?
- How fast do businesses in your industry grow?
- What market forces are affecting your industry?
- What key trends are affecting your industry?
- What industry forces are affecting your industry?
- What macroeconomic forces are affecting your industry?
- What is the projected growth of your industry during the next 10 years?
Start now to become a student of your industry- you’ll be amazed by results in five years or less. You will become an expert in your field. Those who are not preparing and growing are not just standing still in relation to their industry, they’re going backwards.
It is time to ask yourself “Do I know as much about my job and my industry as a good doctor or a lawyer knows about their job or profession?”
Study successful people in your industry rather than look for that get rich quick idea in other industries. Sometimes all you need to make an enormous improvement is simply a reminder of things you already knew but have forgotten.
Devote one hour a day to reading and taking notes on the ways you can increase your contribution to your job and industry. As soon as you adopt a learning attitude, you will have joined the top 5% of the people in the world.
By becoming a student of your industry and becoming a contributor TO it rather than competing IN it, you will be affecting your industry rather than just being affected by it. You will become a creator and a giver to knowledge instead of just a receiver.
By taking the time to examine your job and your industry and learning all you can about it, your work, and your industry, you will become much more interested in and enthusiastic about your work and its future. Interest and enthusiasm are contagious and will attract success.
Somewhere in your present job are opportunities that have the potential to bring you everything you could possibly want for yourself and your family. It will not be labeled “opportunity”; it will be hidden in common everyday things.
Here are nine points to remember before you chase that next get rich quick idea in another industry:
- If you develop the wisdom and patience to explore the work in which you are now engaged, you will find that it contains the opportunities you desire.
- Before you go running off into what you think are greener pastures, recognize that your current pasture is unlimited and coveted by others.
- There are no bad jobs. It’s how you go about your job that makes it either good or bad.
- Preparation can ensure that you can spot and take advantage of the opportunities that are currently all around you.
- Put your imagination to work on the many ways that you can improve what you are doing now.
- Learn all you can about your job and your industry.
- A dynamic and growing economy will reward the uncommon person who participates in its growth.
- Set aside an hour a day to study and research your industry.
- Remember the story of the acres of diamonds.
Are you looking for the next big thing or are you developing the skills necessary to spot opportunities in your industry?
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