How long does it take to get rich?

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Most people don’t get rich for one main reason:

They want it all right now.

In reality, entrepreneurship is like an adult marshmallow test.

Most people aren’t wealthy and successful because most people are naturally really bad at making decisions that maximize results 5 and 10 years down the road.

They are broke, out of shape, unhealthy and unhappy because they naturally make decisions that maximize pleasure today and tomorrow or next week instead of far off into the future.

And people think of entrepreneurship as a get-rich-quick scheme.

We celebrate stories like Mark Zuckerbergs – from college dorm room startup to billionaire in less than 5 years.

Stories are written about the unicorns. The one in a million shots. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

We celebrate the folks who got rich really fast with a new invention or a world-changing software.

But the truth is that entrepreneurship is anything but a get-rich quick scheme. Generational wealth and success in America is usually a VERY long game.

So long, in fact, that it takes generations:

People immigrate to America with nothing. They work hard just to get by and send their kids to a decent school.

Those kids improve and step up in society. They become doctors or lawyers and create stability and a backstop for their kids.

And those kids become entrepreneurs and accumulate even more wealth.

The lesson:

Play the long game. Understand that it is a process. You must suffer and do not-fun stuff for years and years to have great results.

Making money, despite what you read on social media, is actually really hard. Play the long game!

A hill I’ll die on:

95% of entrepreneurs should forget about technology (a few big fish and a lot of sophisticated fishermen) and focus on small business (small fish everywhere and really crappy fishermen).

Be like water.

Take the path of least resistance.

The goal of every entrepreneur should be:

1. Gain financial freedom


2. Maximize probability of achieving #1

Because when you have financial freedom your world opens up. You can start doing what makes you happy. And you can positively impact a lot more people with project #2, 3, 4 etc.

You’re in a position to try to change the world if you have financial freedom.

So why don’t more folks think about opportunities with more weight added to #2?

The odds part. The risk. The probability.

The amount of small businesses in America that absolutely print money and still do business like it’s 1985 is astounding.

Why is everyone trying to fish for sharks against Stanford and Harvard grads and venture capital and big tech?

Sure you hit big. And we see the folks who did all over twitter. But what about the other 95% who tried but couldn’t achieve #1?

Business should be more like poker. How can I maximize my gain and minimize my risk? How much cash do I really need to try to win on this hand?

People don’t need as much cash as they think to be free. $100k a year in passive income is enough for most folks.

Just not having to go to a job they don’t like would change everything for most folks.

So why don’t we look up from our computer screens?

The amount of small businesses in America that absolutely print money and still do business like it’s 1985 is astounding.

Fax machines. Secretaries. Land lines. Written ledgers. Cash payments.

Innovation can happen in really small ways.

I’m getting moderately wealthy right now by applying out-of-the-box software to self storage facilities. I’m one of about 100 groups of folks doing exactly this.

Am I trying something new? No.

Am I innovating? Sure.

Am I taking outsized risk? No.

Am I copying off of others? Sure.

Am I trying to educate a market? No.

I’m fishing in a pond (small self storage facilities) with tons of small fish (20,000+ of them in the USA) and a ton of crappy fishermen (60 year olds who don’t use email).

Learn from the true innovators. Pay attention to silicon valley and how they do business. But look up from your computer screen.

There is a small business 1/2 mile from your house that prints money and does business like its 1985.

Nobody wants to buy that business. Nobody wants to start that business. Because there is a little bit of sweat. It’s not easy. It might take a little bit of physical work (god forbid) in the early days.

And so the fish are just sitting there. They may not be large enough fish to make it on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine. But they are big enough fish to change your entire life and the life of your kids and their kids.

Why wouldn’t you throw your line there?

Onward and upward,


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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.