Lewis Schiff of Inc. magazine has a new book out called "Business Brilliant: Surprising Lessons From the Greatest Self-Made Business Icons."
After a dozen years of work, he has distilled seven core behaviors that explain how self-made millionaires became wealthy.
What's struck me most about the book is the stark difference between what wealthy people think and what "middle class" people think.
For example, Schiff reports 80% of wealthy people have equity in the businesses they are involved in.
In my wealth-building advisory service, Unconventional Wealth, I call this the principal of ownership. And I believe it's the single most important secret to building lasting wealth. When you own a stake in what you do, you benefit more than your 9-to-5 neighbor.
That's why it's the mission of Unconventional Wealth to show you how to build ownership in income-producing assets.
According to Schiff, just 10% of "middle class" people have equity in what they do. And 70% said they're not even trying to build any equity.
Eighty percent of millionaires own what they do. Seventy percent of middle class people aren't even trying to own what they do. Think about that.
Schiff also found that 71% of wealthy people have no problem walking away from business deals that look suspect. But only 22% of middle class people said the same thing. The middle class seems to think there's a point of no return after which you must follow through.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Another quality of the wealthy is that they cultivate and protect capital. They don't toss it away on bad deals.
Don't fall into that trap. Capital is precious. The most important step to accumulating lasting wealth is ownership. You can't own something unless you first have enough capital to acquire it.
I don't care what you own. Own a car wash. Own a liquor store. Own a tractor you rent out to people in your area who want to plant a garden. Own real estate and rent it out.
As I tell my Unconventional Wealth readers, you build wealth by owning something tangible that returns capital to you.
Put another way, the big difference between the truly wealthy and the middle class is that wealthy people produce, and the middle class consume.
I don't mean that as a reverse class-warfare claim. This is not a political statement. I simply mean that wealthy people find a way to break the cycle of working for a paycheck and that they find themselves in a very different financial situation than those you might call "working stiffs."
So how do you follow the path laid out by the truly wealthy? You break the model of debt reliance by finding a way to "work for yourself."
The rich aren't brilliant. They put their pants on just like you. The difference between the rich and everyone else is that they own what delivers them their capital. Everything else flows from that point.
One way to own what delivers you capital is to buy a second home and rent it out. As I've written many times, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are cheap right now. Bankrate.com reports the nationwide average is still just 3.75%. Historically speaking, this is a steal.
Visit www.trulia.com or visit www.zillow.com and search for existing homes in your area that are in your price range. Then contact a real estate agent and go tour them.
Schiff's book might be called "Business Brilliant," but you don't have to be brilliant to become wealthy. Simply commit yourself to ownership and you control your future.
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