“Let me tell you about the rich. They are very different from you and me.”
This is the opening line of a short story, “The Rich Boy,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The phrase is often misquoted as, “The rich are different from you and me.” Fitzgerald’s literary pal Ernest Hemingway is rumored to have said in response, “Yes, they have more money.”
Are you running your business like a rich person? Should you be?
If we equate being rich with being extravagant, sometimes excessively so, then no, you shouldn’t. Personal wealth as the result of business success is one thing (see Richard Branson or Larry Page). Spending money that doesn’t make your business more productive, your customers and employees more satisfied, or your products better is extravagant spending that can easily lead to bankruptcy (see Enron).
But the rich do have certain attitudes and qualities that could make your business better.
Hard Work Gets Results
While it’s certainly true that many a rich person starts out with the advantage of rich parents, many came from modest circumstances and earned their wealth through the school of hard knocks. A business owner who isn’t willing to expand the work and effort required to get the best results for the company and its employees becomes the former business owner who winds up working for someone else after the company folds. As entrepreneur Sujan Patel puts it:
We love our ‘get rich stories’…because we’re all inherently lazy—we all want to do the least amount of work possible, while earning as much money as possible. But unfortunately, this type of laziness…can seriously derail your entrepreneurial dreams. The bottom line, hard truth of the matter is that running a business…is damn hard. It;s hard work day-in and day-out.
Creating wealth isn’t simply a matter of crunching numbers. It’s setting goals and attaining them (or if you don’t attain them, thinking about why not and figuring out how to fix it). That requires ingenuity. As Jessica Sommerfeld observes in MoneyNing:
By ingenuity, I’m not saying wealthy people are any smarter or even more educated than ordinary folk. But they’ve realized their own unique abilities and mixed them with some creative to say, do, or create something no one else has—something that works and something that everybody wants.
Related Article: Secrets of the Super Rich: Does Salary Really Matter?
Follow Your Passion
Steven Siebold, self-made millionaire and author of How Rich People Think, maintains that the number one priority for rich people is to follow their passions.
His book is based on interviews with 1,200 of the richest people in the world, the Australian National Review reports, quoting Siebold that,
“One of the smartest strategies of the world class is doing what they love and finding a way to get paid for it.”
Siebold’s book builds on the classic study of successful people, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, a best-seller written in 1937 and one of the first “self-help” guides to wealth creation. An attribute Hill cites as characteristic of “rich people thinking” is creative imagination, the ability to act on hunches or inspiration.
According to Alexander Ang, true creativity is more than just rearranging old concepts or ideas into new fresh combinations. Rather it is using the imagination to create new concepts and ideas.
Related Article: 10 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read for Inspiration
Choose Employees Wisely
No one operates in a vacuum. Rich people—and successful businesses—depend on the talents and capabilities of those who work for them. As Life Hack notes, “Rich people know what they want, have very little time for administrative stuff, and rely enormously on their employees. Since there is a lot at stake, they will choose the best and pay accordingly.
Know What You Don’t Know
Rich people are always looking for new perspectives, better ways to do things. And they know they do not have the expertise in all areas to get the answers they want. Moreover, they are open to ideas that may differ, even contradict, their own assumptions.
Not that they will necessarily conclude these ideas are right, but they are open to considering them. Because rich people don’t let, as Neal Frankle puts it, ego get in the way of intellect.
Focus on Opportunities
“Most things that happen to us can be seen as either opportunity or as an obstacle. It depends on what we focus on,” observes Phil Drolet. Rich people see failures as opportunities to learn.
They see problems as opportunities to formulate solutions, not as reasons to give up. Success isn’t the result of happenstance (even while luck sometimes plays a part). It’s the result of concentrated effort in looking at the opportunities and addressing them.