Stick with me here. This is the first in a series of posts on a new venture I’m working on. This first post is laying some groundwork and providing some background. I figured, why not start at the start. :)
Since the exit from my previous business and brands back in 2014 I’ve been calling myself semi-retired. “Semi” partly because I’ve been continuing to help with the business transition (which was very successful and smooth) and also because I knew I wasn’t just going to sit around or play golf everyday or anything like that – I’m too young to go idle.
I love helping people…
…and that’s why I meet with entrepreneurs on a regular basis to help mentor, coach, and give feedback to help them. My personality and strengths analysis tests always point to coaching, teaching, and leading (and decision-making because I’m a very high D on the DISC scale).
Through helping entrepreneurs, and also a lot of other acquaintances, I’ve noticed that many people have challenges on the personal finance front – and it just so happens that is also a passion of mine. I’m passionate about this for a couple main reasons:
- I’ve seen and worked with too many would-be entrepreneurs who are afraid to launch because their personal financial affairs are in such poor shape. I love startups and small businesses and it bothers me that some people get themselves into a bind so they can’t follow their dreams.
- I’ve also seen and worked with a number of founders who have gone ahead and started a business – before getting their personal affairs in order – and they stress and struggle over raising money to keep things going. And/or they are constantly stressed over growth rates because they know they quickly need a big salary to support their lifestyle and past purchases.
- I’ve experienced first-hand how freeing it is to have your personal finances in order. It has honestly had a tremendous impact on our marriage – there are no money fights or disagreements when money gets spent… if it’s in the budget, no problem. If it isn’t, it doesn’t get spent right now. Getting in fiscal shape has also allowed us to cover our daughter’s college education so she hasn’t had to take any college loans to get her degree. So it is already having an impact on the next generation.
“Instead of solving high-profile problems, try to solve something that’s deeply personal to you. Ideally, if you’re an ordinary person and you’ve just solved your problem, you might have solved the problem for millions of people.”
– Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of AirbnbPersonal Finance
My family and I have been debt-free for a long time – well before we sold the business. We’ve also gone through some simplification steps and downsizing over the years to make sure we live well below our means. It isn’t always easy, we’ve made plenty of mistakes (posts on this later :>), and its been a slow grind at times, but man, it sure is nice to be 100% debt free with money in the bank. :)
Karla and I have also been serving in our church to help out their financial ministry in coordinating and leading Financial Peace University classes. It’s a great program for an intro to some key financial topics and we love working with people through the class. We noticed a remaining need here though – many people still have tons of questions both throughout the class and also after the class ends. There is a need for longer-term engagement options to help keep people on their defined goal path and to help analyze and address things that continue to come up – because, hey, life happens.
So what does this lead into?
My first thought was a second career. I just wanted to help people solve some problems and it didn’t matter a ton what specific format that solution took. So I started down the path of working toward registration and work as a financial planner / advisor. I studied for and passed my Series 65 test – allowing me to register and start charging for financial planning and investment advice if I wanted.
But as I explored the companies that were hiring for this type of role (registered investment advisor), I realized that most financial advisor firms were hiring people largely for sales roles. You are expected to make a bunch of outgoing calls and bring in business for the firm. I understand, but that’s not really my thing.
So I thought maybe I’d start my own firm and just do my own thing. If I was going to have to “sell”, I’d rather sell for myself. It’s that entrepreneurial spirit burning inside of me. I started working on my Certified Financial Planning (CFP) certification requirements while also meeting with other people in the industry and researching some different business models. I also started drafting out a business plan (my thoughts on business plans) to organize my thoughts.
As I explored the industry models I quickly realized that most RIA (registered investment advisor) firms focused on high net worth clients. In fact, many wouldn’t even work with a customer if they didn’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in investable assets. I want to truly help the people who need the help the most, which are the people without high net worths, and might even have a negative net worth – so I started looking for a drafting alternative options.
Unfortunately the math was hard to work out. Low net worth people can’t afford high fees, so volume because a concern to make that model profitable. But when doing personal finance and investment advisement, there is a lot of trading dollars-for-hours – meaning it doesn’t scale well. I guess that’s why traditional RIAs focus on wealthy people.
I had another concern in that I didn’t want to just manage investments for people. In fact, I have no interest in managing investments for others. I believe in a balanced, passive, low-cost EFT investing model. Many studies have shown this to be the best plan for most investors over a long period of time. In fact, I use Betterment (that’s my referral link – sign up and I get a small benefit) and I recommend it to most investors, especially ones who don’t have time to constantly analyze the market and/or individual stocks.
So where did that lead me?
I was a bit stuck at that point. So I figured I’d take my own advice and do some research. I spoke to dozens of people directly, ran some Google Surveys, leveraged some landing pages, and did some QuickMVP experiments to clarify pain points, desired solutions, and willingness to pay (and how much) for various solutions.
The research confirmed that there are a ton of people out there that both recognize the need, and would be willing to pay for a solution, for something to help them get their financial affairs in order. Almost 8 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, meaning that missing a single paycheck for some reason would put them into a painful financial situation (or a more-painful situation in some cases).
To help address this need we’ll be working on developing a solution – likely multiple types of solutions – to help not only educate people but walk along side them and help them through the process of improving their finances. A key part of the solution will be financial coaching, paired with educational materials like articles and training videos, which will reside on the very-much-still-under-construction site at MaximizeYourMoney.com.
I continue to have a big passion for entrepreneurs, so if you are a current business owner, or have the aspiration to be a business owner at some point in the future, I’d love to talk with you to discuss how I might be able to help out. Recognizing weaknesses and challenges, then having a plan to address the issues, is a huge step toward ultimate success.
There are a lot more posts planned – to let you follow along as we build up the MYM business. I’ll write about the challenges, and thoughts on how to address them, and what works, and what doesn’t. To come along with me on this journey, subscribe to my blog for free updates delivered to your inbox as they release.