Start Up Blog

Most people I know…

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 17, 2013

… want to get rich so they don’t have to care about the company they work for, or the crappy project they are doing. Once they make bank they can do what really turns them on.

I used to be that guy.

Now I just do what really turns me on, and all of a sudden I don’t care so much about how many zeros are in my bank account.

My father once told me; “Regardless of how rich you are Steve, you can only eat 3 meals a day, lay your head on one pillow and enjoy the company of those around you. Money is an illusion. The art of becoming wealthy is actually knowing what it means.”

Needless to say my dad is the richest man I know.

So what we ought do, is not let the Industrial Complex redefine wealth on our behalf and make us live a life of postponing what we care about. Because once we can feed ourselves and have somewhere warm to live, the rest is in our minds.

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Look both ways

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 28, 2012

Our view on success depends largely on our reference points. If we look up we see some of what we might hope for. If we look down, we see that our lot in life is not that bad.

There real danger is only looking one way. If we focus just on those above us, we may never be satisfied. We could turn into workalohics, forget to appreciate what we have achieved, or even worse, we could become jaded and jealous. If we focus just on those below us, we become satisfied, lazy, or simply accepting of our status quo.

If we look both ways it helps us to stay balanced and have perspective on what we have, versus what we’d like. And the last important thing to remember is to define ‘up’ carefully, and make sure it focuses on riches beyond the financial type.

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10 ways to significantly increase your income

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 16, 2012

There are a bunch of ways to increase our incomes. Whether we are business owners, startups or employees the principals are the same. So here’s a list of 10 things we can do (starting tomorrow) to boost the income we receive from whatever we do.

  1. Learn or improve our public speaking skills - Our ability to sell ourselves and anything verbally is still the number skill in business. Anyone who can speak in private, can speak in public – it just takes practice. There are tricks we can learn and if we learn them what we earn will increase dramatically.
  2. Write a blog – If we write a blog on what you do it has a wondrous way of increasing our knowledge bank, our reputation and builds a verifiable asset we can use to sell our credentials. All I can say is that of all the things I’ve done in my life, blogging has created more  economic benefit for me than anything else. You’ll only know how this happens if you have faith and do it.
  3. Keep your body in good shape - I believe it has two important ways it impacts our earning potential. Firstly a fit body has a brain that works better. This is a medical fact. Secondly, people subconsciously judge us on what we look like. If we are in good shape people increase their trust levels of us. Because we look after ourselves, they believe we can look after them and their business. I know this is almost cultural heresy, but I do think it is true.
  4. Groom & dress well – As per the second point above. How we look is an asset. It doesn’t mean we need to wear expensive clothes or look like a movie star, but have pride in our own human existence. Never be afraid to invest money in nice clothing.
  5. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job – People buy us as they asset, both in startup land and employment land. So we must invest in self development more than developing the business. If we do the former, that latter happens automatically.
  6. Leverage the wood chips – Every job has some kind of ‘off cut’ or left over which is part of the process of being productive. This is often a great asset which can be leveraged. Know what your wood chips are, and take them to market. This not only invents revenue, but displays vision. People will notice.
  7. Learn another language – It might be Chinese Mandarin or Javascript. Any language will do. The point is that it increases our mind power and enables us to see and understand things that other people can’t. It is far more impressive to know how to speak another language than it is have a post graduate qualification in the same area. It separates us from the crowd. And differentiation leads to greater income.
  8. Help others grow – Help friends and colleagues achieve their goals. Help them with what you know and inspire them to be all they can. Do it without desire for any repayment. It will inspire you and karma will return the benefits.
  9. Save 30 percent – Keep 30 percent of your income to be invested. Do this before any expenditure occurs at all. Put 10% into active capital (your own entrepreneurial ideas). Put 10% into passive capital (shares, interest bearing deposits, other peoples business ventures) and put 10% back into society – this should be defined by yourself. It takes far less than people think for the compound benefits of such a simple financial strategy to accrue.
  10. Spend 10% on your income on self education – No matter what we earn we must ensure we allocate 10% of this to re-educating ourselves. In a world of rapid change this is not a choice but a must. This is the ingredient to continued self worth and value. It pays for itself many times over. Just ask any millionaire.

By the way this list is ‘non-exhaustive’ – but a set of activities I have learned and used. Maybe you’ve got some additional tactics you can share in the comments.

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Property Investing 101

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 27, 2012

A startup blog regular – Josh Moore has been asking for as post on Property Investing. Which like anything can be treated like a startup. It’s a big topic with a million books on it. But I have had a side interest in it for some time. So here are some tips on stuff that I think is worth knowing when investing in property. A bit of a 101 guide:

  • Property returns on average about 10%. Which is quite similar to the share market on.
  • Banks will lend much more money for property investments due to lower volatility than shares.
  • You should buy investment properties that you, yourself would like to live in.
  • Land goes up in value. Concrete and air does not increase in value.
  • Period buildings (unique styles, historical) have higher capital growth than the average property.
  • Rental returns are usually below 5% per annum.
  • Property investment can be a quicker path to wealth than shares due to leverage (borrowing money).
  • Getting someone to manage a property costs about 7% of the rent per week. (so you wont have to fix toilets)
  • You should always allow for 6 weeks a year vacancy on rental properties.
  • High capital growth properties & areas, tend to have lower rental yields.
  • High yield properties tend to have low capital growth.
  • Areas going through gentrification usually have greater capital growth.
  • A rental guarantee is a lie – the rent for the guarantee period is usually built into the selling price.
  • Auctions are invented by real estate agents who want it to sell quick to get their money.
  • Homes on busy roads have a higher turnover of renters and reduced yield.
  • Homes near water (river, beach, lake) grow faster and fetch a premium.
  • Tax benefits of property investment in Australia are a significant advantage.
  • You can draw out profits (capital gain)  from a property that has grown in value and not pay tax on it
  • You can buy insurance against tenants in case they damage your house (Landlord Insurance).
  • Investors should choose between yield or capital growth when investing.
  • Capital gains tax on selling is 50% lower if you’ve held the property for over 12 months.
  • Property investing is very dependent on government policy, technological change, and infrastructure.
  • The key to investing is compound growth. Trading removes the power of compounding.
  • Trading properties & developing, is not investing, they are more like running businesses.
  • Trading properties is expensive – acquisition usually costs between 6-9% of market value.
  • Disposing of property usually costs around 3-5% of market value.
  • The property market can go through long periods of sustained stagnation, 10% returns is 100 year+ average.
  • Buying properties off the plan is risky. The saving in stamp duty can be a false friend.
  • Mortgage insurance is for the bank, not the mortgage holder.
  • The word mortgage is French, meaning; An engagement until death.
  • I believe that property is a get rich slow category
  • The biggest land holder on earth is ‘The Catholic Church’

Hope this helps getting you off and running in your property ventures. Good authors on the subject include; Jane Somers and Dolf De Roos.

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My family is fine, how is yours?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 26, 2011

I was interested in reading an article in this weekends Australia Financial Review which was titled ‘What worries the rich?’ – Firstly, who cares? Not me. Not because they are rich, just that it is an irrelevant question. We all have worries, and the worries of a particular demographic are no more important than any other demographic. However, in reading one particular persons comments I was astounded at the irony.

The rich person in question was Bruce Mathieson, who has a net wealth of over $1 billion. He said:

“I’d hate to think that I had a lot of money  but my family and everyone around me were unhappy. That would be an absolute disaster.”

For anyone who doesn’t know, Bruce made the majority of his wealth via Poker Machines. Here is a guy who “sells hope, and provides misery” – claiming he’d hate to make anyone unhappy. Is he serious?

Poker machines provide nothing good to society. The only thing that poker machines are good at, is redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich. And governments falsely believe the tax revenue outweighs the cost of the social ills they create.

You might think this is slightly off topic for startup blog. But for me it sent me a clear message about what business is all about. Creating value for all those who participate in the value chain – not one sided value.  If the cost of being wealthy, was creating heart ache for people, I’d rather be poor. In addition, I like to think we are entering an age where wealth creation is more often a result of creating value for society, not by tricking people.

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Top 10 financial hacks

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 13, 2011

There is no point being a successful entrepreneur, or selling a startup if we have no idea how to handle the money we get. So here is my top 10 financial life hacks.

  1. Spend less than you earn, no matter what that amount is. The net result is happiness.
  2. Allocate cash to savings & investments before anything the day you get your profits, pay or dividends.
  3. Never go into debt for anything which does not appreciate in value.
  4. The real definition of an Asset: Anything that puts money in your pocket. The accounting definition of an asset is flawed.
  5. Do not trade stocks. Trading makes the broker and tax man rich and you poor.
  6. The greatest financial instrument is ‘compounding’. It only happens when we hold assets, not by trading them.
  7. If you can’t afford a consumer product in cash, you can’t afford it.
  8. There is no such thing as ‘financial engineering’. It was invented by Wall street to trick you.
  9. The best type of share investment is an Index Fund. They are investments in civilization. If that fails, we have bigger worries than our money.
  10. Invest more in education than entertainment & ‘things’ and you will outdo society financially.

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Bill vs Gerry

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 17, 2011

With great wealth comes great responsibility. The key word I’d use to describe this is ‘legacy’. When entrepreneurs become successful financially, then I think it makes sense to leave a legacy which creates pride beyond money. Often this comes in the form of the business that has been built. A footprint of good stuff the business created – which is the source of the original monetary rewards. Great entrepreneurs go beyond their business and create value for society.

What successful people do after they are financially rewarded is more important than what they did in order to arrive.

So let’s consider the tale of two billionaires. One from Australia and one from the USA. Granted the USA version is much wealthier, but when we are talking billions, I think it matters not.

Billionaire 1 from the USA: Bill Gates. No introduction needed. Gates has made The Giving Pledge to donate over half of his wealth to charity. He has given more than $28 billion to charity and focuses the majority of his efforts fighting poverty and disease in 3rd world countries.

Billionaire 2 from Australia: Gerry Harvey. Retailing magnate known for having strong opinions and doing his own voice overs for his radio and TV advertising. Sure his industry is changing (Just like Microsoft is under siege from web based software platforms) but rather than being happy he’s a billionaire and doing some good, he’s investing his wealth and energy into lobbying the government to change GST tax law thwart his competitive threats.

Despite the fact the GST is not the reason people are taking their shopping on line, Gerry has really lacked the decorum and perspective that should accompany a billionaire. Sure, Bill has had his fair share of questionable tactics in business, but he has never cried poor. In some ways, it makes me embarrassed to be Australian when our business stalwarts are showing such a lack of leadership in society.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, but I can’t help but think that it comes down to responsible leadership and legacy. If I’m ever fortunate enough to make one….(a fortune that is)… please remind me of this blog post.

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Reasons for running a startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 4, 2010

There are many reasons people wan to run a startup.

Fame

Fortune

Social justice

Sleeping in

Pioneering

Redefining work hours

Creating something

Answering to no-one

…… we must really think hard about our motivators. Then….

Choose wisely.

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The most important startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2009

I am incredibly happy with the following things:

- My relationship with my family (immediate and wider family)

- The state of my health. I fit and well enough to enjoy, people life and exercise.

- Where I live. Yarraville, Melbourne, Australia. In fact so much so that I evangelize it.

- My house. A beautiful little renovated Edwardian, not big but it’s just right for me and my wife.

- The state of my country Australia. It allows us to practice any religion / or not and live a free life with opportunity.

- How I invest my spare time. I like surfing, gym and mountain bike riding.

- The fact that I am continuing a vocation of learning.  Both in life and academically in my areas of interest.

- The work I do. Running rentoid.com teaching at Melbourne University and writing this blog.

If any of these parts of your life aren’t right. If we are not quite happy with them, no less totally unhappy with them. Then this is the most important startup we can focus on. The start required to change it. Start today.

Picture 118

Broken car = broken life

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 13, 2009

The title of this post is a philosophy I have. People often disagree siting financial hardship, opportunity, income, age… you name it. They can argue all they like but it is true. People who look after themselves, have pride and a solid work ethic have nice cars. Not necessarily expensive cars, but cars which are washed regularly, are tidy inside, and don’t have any obvious dings or fractures which are to be fixed.

Keeping a clean car doesn’t really cost any money, just a little bit of time and effort. In fact it usually saves people money, just like servicing a car does. Sure, cars get smashed, need repairs and are generally a necessary expense and not an asset. But like all things, delays in making it right will have a compound effect. Dints which aren’t fixed get rusty. Unserviced cars break down more often.  Trying to save money letting your car go, just costs money in the long run. People with unbroken lives know this. It also has an important impact on your own self worth and psyche. Not to mention other peoples opinions of you, rightly or wrongly.

Show me an adult with a broken car, and I’ll show you a person with a broken life. (students are the exception)

Below is a classic example. Both cars of similar style and age. The first is owned by a person with a broken life, the other with by a person with a great attitude.

Crappy car

Classic Car

Do the test for a week or two. Assess the people you know and the state of their vehicle. It tells a very clear story.

Startup blog says take pride in all you do and all you own and your life will be better.

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