Let me share a little story; no, it is more of a legend than a story because if you dig deep enough there is always some truth to every legend. This one is called The Legend of Cash Mountain.
Every business owner, either consciously or subconsciously, has had a relationship with Cash Mountain. We all believed, at some point, that if we went into business and worked very hard, climbing the business mountain every day, that eventually we would reach the summit of our efforts and look down over the top to see our final destination – a vast ocean of cash! Isn’t that the truth? Didn’t we all set out the day we started our business believing that we held in our hands the answer to financial success?
We held tight to the notion that once we climbed over Cash Mountain we would be swimming in money, finally free to acquire everything and anything we desire. All of our efforts will eventually be rewarded, right? Well, that is what the legend implies. Everyone knows or has heard of someone that has become fabulously wealthy in their business, yet in my experience in working with hundreds of small business owners I see a completely different scenario.
The entrepreneur in you starts the journey up Cash Mountain full of energy and purpose, but somewhere along the way you lose direction. You stop. Maybe it is just to rest, but in that moment, the day to day work of the climb overwhelms you and you begin to do what I have come to call sleepwalking. As each day passes, you are busy with the ascent, but nothing seems to change. Eventually, the never ending onslaught of frustrations and issues begin to erode the passion that once pushed you up the mountain so effortlessly. It is at this point that the majority of Small Business Owners start waving a white flag of surrender.
What happened to the dream? It has become a real life myth in your world, something you talk about with your partner or spouse, but deep in your heart you are starting to believe you have lost the energy, clarity and focus needed to achieve what you envisioned. You can blame the economy, employees, competition, banks, etc, but the truth is you are tired and disillusioned. Your dream and life’s goal has become nothing more than a wish.
So, why does this happen to the majority of business owners in the world? It is not because you do not work hard because you actually work harder than probably anyone you know. It’s not because of a lack of education, money, opportunity, family or any of the other go to reasons we all fall back on. The cause is that we never clearly defined how and when we were going to get to the ocean of cash and then got sucked into the vastness of the mountain.
When I see a truly successful company I always look to see what traits or attributes the owner had that propelled them over the top of that mountain. It has been my experience that these entrepreneurs do not get there by following the path that everyone else follows. Their ultimate goal is always larger and the successful business is just a part of that plan, freedom from fear is the goal. Let me explain. Even great businesses can have great failures. Take a look at General Motors or Lehman Brothers. Thousands more perish or change hands every day. In fact, for small business, it is worse; most small companies never reach their tenth anniversary. There are boulders tumbling down the mountain that can take out a small business in an instant.
Boulders come in many forms, such as the Internet, new competition, price wars, cash flow catastrophes, employee issues, etc. The attack is relentless and that is why we are all so tired and seek safety by learning to hide within the mountain. While we are busy protecting what we have built, all progress to make it over the mountain has stopped.
In order to make it over Cash Mountain we have to begin again with a different perspective. Your goal is not to build a “great” business, your goal is to quickly and effectively create a profitable business and reinvest those profits into passive, income producing opportunities. You see, Cash Mountain is not a place, it is a condition. It occurs when the income from passive investments (investments outside of your business) are greater than your cost of living. Once you recognize the difference you will be in a much better place to construct a solid plan, put systems in place to achieve results and find an accountability partner that will truthfully tell you where you are and remind you of where you are supposed to be going.
People who make it over the mountain are totally focused on the financial results, not the day-to-day work. They know where they are going and why. If they fail to hit a financial target they feel it internally, not as anger but as a reminder to focus. Cash Mountain is there for all to climb, but don’t go it alone. The greatest climbers in the world have a guide and a solid team behind them and you should too.