“Entrepreneurship is not the only way to accumulate wealth”- Tola Onayemi
If you don’t come from wealth or privilege, chances are that you’re in the most difficult generation ever, for young people to become wealthy. Here are my thoughts on how to beat the trap. I don’t need to tell you that globally, it’s harder than ever to get a great job. Even more difficult to get a well-paying job.
Chances are that most people barely have savings at the end of the month, after meeting their daily needs. Then jobs that existed before are quickly being taken over by machines, or even more skilled workers who are ready to work for less. So the competition is steep.
Entrepreneurship is not the only way to accumulate wealth
Now, let me first debunk the belief that entrepreneurship is the only way to accumulate wealth. When Microsoft went public in 1986, about 12,000 of its employees became millionaires (in dollars). So ease up on the employee-bashing. However, your personal wealth journey starts with one fact: no one owes you anything, not even your parents.
Also, wealth is a function of personal habit and choices, so it’s really not about who owes you anything, but the choices you make. The two most powerful forms of capital on earth – “ideas” and “relationships”. Ideas that can generate wealth or leverage resources, and relationships that can be leveraged to create opportunities for you.
Several business people didn’t also have the capital to start their business or scale it up.
Your track record is important
Most either had an idea they could trade up or relationships they could leverage on to access opportunities (or even capital). So, build a track record. That track record may include a time used to build a skillset, years of work, experience in a particular field, being part of a team that did something.
Every serious person who wants to deal with you will ask the question:
- What is he/she doing?
- What has she/he done?
Your track record is your real identity in the wealth market. Also, it makes it easy for those that have a relationship with you to vouch for you. Also, in this generation of records, ensure you keep a good record of your track. What did you do and when?
Now, relationships are everything. Bill Gates’ mum was key in him meeting those in IBM who gave Microsoft its first big break. It’s the person inside who opens the door for the person outside to come inside. Get a mentor or a sponsor. Get into relationships with those in your industry and those outside it.
Offer value in exchange for capacity
The easiest way to build strong relationships with anyone is to offer to be of help to them. Everyone like a valuable person. You may not have a fraction of their wealth or influence, but you can give your time. So rather than say, please can you help me, how about you say “you’re working on this, can I offer to help with this portion for free”
Get into their value chain, and offer them serious value. You will quickly become valuable, and they will let you into deeper value process, and that’s how you can to build yourself.
Trust me, there are many influential people who need valuable assistance that isn’t money.
What’s more, you keep your dignity in the process. Also, learn how to leverage. Leverage means using the tools you have your maximum advantage. Once you get into the value chain, don’t get comfortable doing things how it’s always being done. Find ways to multiply the usefulness of your portion, and trade up its value.
Also, it’s more important to be passionate about whatever you find to do, than even following your passion. Too many people pass up on great opportunities that can start them on the way, because they are idle waiting for what they are passionate about.
Now, ideas have exponential results. When coupled with relationships, it’s even more explosive. Take out time every day to think and keep a journal while doing it.
- Ask these 3 questions:
- What problem can I solve?
- What process can I improve?
- How can I make the wealth off above?
Don’t do everything. Focus on just one of those ideas that you have the most chance of being successful with.
Then pour yourself into developing it. When it’s developed, identify who can help you make it happen, and use your track record to sell it to them. This also works if you’re an employee, your employer will find you more valuable if you’re bringing new ways to improve the business or grow it.
Who do you think will be up for promotion or new roles in the company, the normal staff or the thinking staff?
Don’t be scared to fail when you launch out. Any venture capitalist or business person will tell you they take a person who has tried severally and failed more seriously compared to a person who didn’t try at all.
I won’t advise you to focus on growing your wealth. Why? Too many people aren’t even making enough to even be able to grow anything. Be wise!
About the Author
ADETOLA ONAYEMI, LLB, LLM (Cantab) serves as Head, Trade Remedies Authority/Assistant Chief Negotiator at the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN). The NOTN is the institutional framework and foundation for Nigeria’s trade policy infrastructure and has government-wide responsibility for the conduct and management of Nigeria’s trade policy and leads Nigeria’s trade negotiations. He is also Legal and Partnership Adviser at the Civic Innovation Lab, Abuja.