If you want to make money, you need to FORGET about the bottom-line. Seriously.

Here is how you make money in this world:

You create something of value to people. Once value is recognized, money is exchanged. That’s it.

This is my problem with the endless get-rich-quick schemes of the world: they make you focus your eyes on the money first. 

Think Rich. Millionaire’s club. Financial freedom. ALL focused on the cash. Or lack of it.

So HOW exactly do you make it?

I remember being entranced by the “think rich pinoy” movement. It basically tells you to get passive income through real estate rentals.

I convinced my family to devote a large amount to buying 2 condo units, that we could rent out at a profit. Worked for the first year, then the tenants left. Then Anne Curtis went out selling condo units in a new nearby SM condo. Moreover, it turned out this wasn’t “passive” at all. We needed to maintain the unit. We needed to aggressively market the unit. We needed to monitor tenants. Oh, and one more thing – I am not really into real estate. I have ZERO passion for it. So what now?

So, coupled with my dwindling lack of passion for my corporate day job, I had ANOTHER job I had no passion for. The units are available as we speak. (call me if you are interested, seriously – they’re near SM North Edsa, very strategic)

Why was I suckered into this? Because the lure of money is strong. My focus was directed on making money above all else.

You see a lot of “entrepreneurial” gimmicks advertise this way. People showing off their Lamborghini’s (cringe), or people talking about how they made their first million in a month selling to their downlines and just passively reaping in the rewards.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The focus should be on creating value. When value is created, the money will come after.

When it boils down to it, what is value? Value is simply helping people. All the companies in the world are about helping people. The moment they focus on making money rather than helping people, value is lessened and ultimately the company suffers (eg. Enron).

Sure, financial literacy is very important, but if the focus becomes merely stockpiling assets for a profit as opposed to focusing on how the assets will actually help people – then it’s easy to miss the point.

And what is it with this whole  “passive” bit? This just irks the hell out of me. What is the value being communicated here? That work is something to be avoided? That the trick to life is to find ways to reap the fruits without working?  Isn’t there something wrong here?

One thing I’ve learned: work is an integral part of who we are. Look at the most successful people on earth. They love what they do. Look at them carefully – it’s not about the money. It’s love of the game. 

You have to love the game, people. Life is too short. Take it from Steve Jobs

One of the more entertaining entrepreneur books I read last year was “Anything You Want,” by Derek Sivers. In the book, Sivers talks about how he founded CD Baby. He talks about how he just wanted to help struggling musicians solve a problem. He shunned the big contracts with big record labels. Said no to them. He just kept at helping artists while keeping his vision pure. How does this story end? He ends up selling his firm for 22 million dollars, and then giving most of it to charity.

So forget about the money momentarily first. Focus on helping people. Focus on solving a particular problem. Relentlessly. If you do that, believe me, the money will come. Think about all the great startups that were developed over the course of the last few years. Now think about the problems they solved for you.

I remember being so anti-Apple early on, listing down the things Macs couldn’t do. Then my friend Elmer convinced me to purchase an I-pad. Changed my life. I never went to National Bookstore again, as I was introduced to the world of e-books. And Amazon’s Kindle on I-pad. I could pre-order a book and get it the very day it got released. Then I also noticed I wasn’t watching a lot of TV anymore, but instead found myself consuming videos on the tablet in bed. No more awkward surfing-with-the-laptop-on-my-chest while in bed as well. Now I’m a fanboy, and they’ve got me for life. Why? Tremendous value.

The startups I’m involved with try to focus on helping out as well: STORM focuses on helping companies solve the problem of rewarding employees better. Newly formed Streamengine seeks to help solve the problem of explaining processes better (through video instead of text). Newly formed Cloudexterity will help startups solve the problem of finding a trustworthy source to develop apps.

Its simple really. You want to make money? Establish a business model which helps people. Solve problems. Want to make the ride sustainable and meaningful?  Choose to work on something you are passionate about.

How will your startup help people? What problem out there will you solve? Focus on these relentlessly and THEN the money will come.

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Comments

  1. Great article!

    Passive income is great to have. I guess people just misconstrue it as earning when you aren’t working. But I think, on the deeper level, when your work becomes play because of your passion, passive income is earning while playing.

    To be properly motivated to ‘work’, the work itself shoul be the reward. Income is just the icing on the cake. The more you enjoy playing and helping, the more rewards you’ll reap.

    • Thanks Glen for your thoughtful input. I completely agree with your second paragraph.

      There is nothing wrong with passive income per se. Its just that I think that:1) a TRULY passive business is either rare or expensive (buy a nice, big expensive condo, rent it out to a family which means to stay.) and 2) it’s not really where your passions will lie (if you insist on making it a passive business, then it means its also not a passion) The ones that I know who succeed in the think-rich-system have real estate DNA – and for a lot it becomes their fulltime biz, in a sense their own startup. If it isn’t in your DNA – it will either fail at some point, or will feel like a prison.

      I think this is where startups differ. Startup founders create startups in their off-time, pour their heart and soul in it, and develop it with the idea that once startup revenues hit a certain level, they will take a leap and leave their day jobs forever. It sounds romantic almost, and it is.

  2. I honestly think that there is no such thing as “passive income.” You get out of life what you put into it. Money does not grow on trees and if you want money to make more money you need to learn how to make it work for you. I agree with focusing on something you love and adding value to what one is doing. I work in the creative industries and have learned that in whatever you do people pay well for excellent, cutting edge work but it takes a lot of passion and perseverance to build the skills to get to a point where people pay you loads to do what you love. That’s what spells the difference between those that succeed and do not-passion, consistency, brilliance, excellence and luck. You are successful because you were prepared for that moment when it was there.

    • Just great perspective. Thank you for airing your thoughtful insights, Sally.

      What worries me is that more and more people settle. They just accept the perspective that practicality and passion are mutually exclusive and think it’s as good as it gets.

      • But we cannot blame them because a lot of Filipinos are raised to value security above everything. You have all these families pushing their kids to take up a course like nursing because they see it as a way for their CLAN to be elevated from poverty. I mean how many parents in our culture depend on their kids to support them. Those are what many of our countrymen have to deal with.

      • No blaming at all, just convincing :)

        I am one of those people you talk about. Much of my salary in my very first job went directly to helping out with family finance problems. I now have a family of 2 (soon 3) and up to now, I still support my parents together with my brother. So while security is a huge, huge factor for me, I didn’t allow the circumstances to hinder me from pursuing what you mentioned in your post above – my passions.

        I cannot accept a universe where practicality and passion are mutually exclusive, that what I am describing is fool’s gold. That is a universe devoid of dreams.

        Obviously poverty is a factor for a great number of people in our country, and obviously a great number will not have the luxury of choice. I am talking to those who do have a choice. Primarily because making that choice may ultimately help those who don’t have that luxury.

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