Why Systems, Not Ideas, Make You Rich
The human body is a system of systems. The human body is made up of a circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, and so on. If one of these systems stop, there is a good chance the body will be crippled or die.
Likewise, a business is a complex system of interoperating systems. And like a body, if one of those systems fails, the whole business will either be crippled or die.
When I am asked what my first successful investment was, I simply reply, “My comic book business.”
As a young man, I worked in my rich dad’s convenience store. I didn’t like the work, but I did get free comic books out of it, so that was a plus. Rich dad’s son, Mike, also worked with me. We noticed that when the comic book distributor came with a new batch of comics, the store manager would cut the covers in half and give them to the distributor for credit.
Mike and I got the bright idea to ask if we could have the old comics. Because we worked at the store, he said yes-as long as we didn’t sell them.
Keeping true to our word, Mike and I started a comic book library in his basement. We charged other kids $0.10 a day to come read as many comic books as they wanted.
Eventually, we were making $9.40 a week, which was a lot more than the $0.30 we were making at the store.
In other words, I took comic books that were going to be thrown away and created an asset around them. Starbucks did the same thing with a cup of coffee.
The Power of a Better Idea
Ideas don’t have to be new and unique in order to make you a lot of money. They just have to be better.
Now, there is a fine line between making an idea better and simply stealing an idea. There are many individuals who spend their lives stealing other people’s ideas rather than creating their own. The price they pay is at the least the respect others lose in them, and at times huge lawsuits.
As my rich dad often said, “There is a fine line between copying and stealing.” Many of the most financially successful people are not necessarily people who have created ideas. Rather, they copied ideas and make them better by applying good business systems to them to make millions.
Fashion designers watch young kids to see what new fashions they are wearing, and then they simply mass-produce those fashions.
Bill Gates didn’t invent the operating system that made him the richest man in the world. He simply bought the system from computer programmers who did invent it and then licensed their product to IBM. The rest is history.
Amazon.com took Sam Walton’s idea for Walmart and put it on the Internet. Jeff Bezos became rich much more quickly than Sam Walton did.
Systems Make You Rich
As a young man, rich dad gave me insight into how to make any idea an asset by applying the right framework. That framework is what I call the B-I Triangle.
The B-I Triangle is a system and a model for building a successful business, and products or ideas are the smallest components of the triangle. The B-I Triangle as a whole represents a strong system of systems, supported by a team with a leader, all working towards a common mission. When the components of the triangle are strong and working in harmony, nearly any idea or product can be successful.
So, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur and have been chasing down the fabled great idea, I encourage you to stop and instead start focusing on learning all you can about the components of the B-I Triangle. Then, you won’t need your own light bulb, you’ll just need to see the opportunities others’ great ideas present.
Rich dad said, “The product is the least important piece to inspect when evaluating a business.”
He believed that a truly successful business was built on systems and that the product didn’t have to be the best if the systems were world class. It still had to be good, just not the best.
If you want to be a rich investor, first look at the systems in place for that business. If any aspect of the B-I Triangle is weak, walk away.
Too many times I have discussed the five levels of the B-I Triangle with a management team with which I am considering investing and I hear arguments instead of discussion. When business owners or business teams are weak in any of the five levels, they will become defensive rather than receptive to questioning. If they do become defensive rather than excited to identify and correct a weakness, I usually walk away.
What’s Your Better Idea?
In other words, who says you need to have creative ideas to be rich? The only creativity you need is to take good ideas, fit them into solid and tested business systems and processes, and make them into great businesses.
When we started Rich Dad, it was around our financial education board game, CASHFLOW®. Later, I wrote Rich Dad Poor Dadas a kind of manual to help people understand the principles behind the game. That went on to sell over 26 million copies and became our biggest product. From there we developed more books, seminars, and coaching. Today, we’re focused on digital education. As our business grew, so did our business opportunity.
A friend of mine recently got his roof replaced. The roofer he used had pitched his experience working with insurance companies to get them to pay for the roof. As part of the roofing experience, they acted as a consultant to coordinate with the insurance company and negotiate coverage. My friend would not have known how to do that himself. Because they added consulting as a service, they got the business—and a lot of other business in my friend’s neighborhood.
Anyone can do this type of thinking, including you.
This week take some time to look around. What ideas are out there that you can improve on? The next big idea for your business might be right there under your nose.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily