Wednesday 1 November 2006

The easy way to make a million

Who wants to be a millionaire? Well, me for a start, though I’ve never had the energy to do much about it. Luckily, the relentless rise in house prices means that I will probably realise my dream before too long. But so will everyone else in the country living outside Teesside, Rotherham or Bootle, which will rather take the edge of it. And, unless I sell up to live in a makeshift shelter on some common land, the prospects of actually enjoying my wealth look pretty limited.

Thirty years ago, I thought that the path to riches was to become a stockbroker. I swiftly learned that the easiest way to become a millionaire in the City was to be a multi-millionaire when you started. For a monumentally idle fellow like me, it seemed natural to move into a business which majored on lunch. As a financial PR adviser, I got to know many successful entrepreneurs who were bringing their companies to the stock market. So rather than pursuing the usual self-obsessed ramble, I thought it might be more useful to consider what success factor they all had in common.

Sadly, for those of you hoping for an easy answer, the formula seems to be exactly the same as Edison’s for genius: 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. You start off with a moderately bright idea – often nothing too original. Then you apply at least 150% of your maximum possible effort to making it work. You look upon the EU’s drive against our ‘long hours culture’ with derision. In fact, although you’re doing this to make a better life for your family, you probably don’t see much of them for several years, unless they are employed in your shop or factory on slave wage rates.

You regard your inevitable mistakes as learning experiences and you never, ever fall back on the secondary motto of my old school: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, give up.’

You never set out to be seriously wealthy, just to do a little better than you would have done as someone else’s employee. When the serious money starts to arrive, and you buy the mansion, flash cars, yacht and helicopter, you can’t quite believe your luck. You may not be happy, but at least you can be miserable in serious comfort, resenting only the parasitic advisers who latch onto you, and the fact that you can’t buy immortality.

It helps, as one of my clients always says, if you’re a little crazy.

Now you have the secrets. What are you waiting for?

Keith Hann is a PR consultant who believes in Premium Bonds.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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