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How To Become a Millionaire In Three Years (jasonlbaptiste.com)
322 points by jasonlbaptiste on June 21, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 73 comments

Just a quick semi-meta comment: if you have a comment which you put a lot of time into and which resonated with people, strongly consider blowing it up into a blog post. It may be irrational, but the perceived authority of 500 words wrapped in an attractive Wordpress template murders the perceived authority of 500 words appearing at the third level of indentation on this page.

I like to think that I've written some fairly useful stuff here over the last year or so. To the best of my knowledge, none of my comments has ever gone to Slashdot and the New York Times, but the comment that I turned into a blog post about programmers and names just did.

Your own blog is also a little easier to cite in resume-type situations. (Hypothetically assuming I were to seek funding, I have at least one HN comment that I'd point to to say "Read this, it is strongly indicative of the future success of the business you are about to invest in", and that is a little quirky.)

Another meta comment: Let me start by saying I do not think you have deliberately abused the HN point system. You already have a high score and presumably don't care about the number growing.

That being said... this is an interesting way to game one's HN score.

Comment on stories. Once it became obvious that a particular comment is popular/well-received (200+ points) clarify it a bit and post it to your blog. Then submit it as a story back to HN and get another (200+ points).

I found your original comment really interesting and the formatting on your blog way easier on the eyes than HN comments so I'm not complaining or anything.... just thought it an interesting (and inadvertent) example of how to abuse the HN point system.

I don't care about Karma at this point in the same way people with lots of money don't care about money (that right there is a potential post). I'd rather not lose it because that means I've done something bad/not smart. Otherwise gaining karma isn't something I keep track of. My logic was:

a) I wrote the comment randomly on a Sunday night. I literally wrote what was on my mind. I kept updating it frequently as I thought of more things.

b) All of a sudden there were 200+ upvotes the next day. To me that indicated that people found the comment really useful.

c) I had more to say, wanted to polish it up, and put it on my blog in a more permanent place.

d) Submitted it since it was previously proven to be useful.

I'd kind of like a way to sell some of it off, or have pg fly my family on an all-expenses paid vacation to the Bahamas or something. Fact is, though, it's completely useless.

Are you in fact a millionaire?

Yeah, I wasn't sure exactly how to ask this without sounding snarky, but I do think it's a valid point. If you're not, or if you are but didn't make it in three years, I still think the info you offer is valuable, but it doesn't come from the same well of experience as someone who has done it.

Excellent point.

On the other hand, I know plenty of millionaires who never could have made a post like Jason's.

Why? Because of how they became millionaires. Either they inherited, joined a family business, climbed the corporate ladder, held onto or flipped real estate, grew a conventional business in the perfect climate, or just got plain lucky.

Better: Have you earned a million dollars through your own start-up > once?

Most people don't become millionaires through inheritance, extreme income, and so forth; they become millionaires because they save more than they spend, usually by a substantial amount, invest widely, buy a house and keep it, and marry and don't get divorced. Stanley and Danko's book The Millionaire Next Door describes this phenomenon: http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Next-Door-Thomas-Stanley/d... and what wealth in America actually looks like.

That's a slow way of becoming a millionaire. People want to become millionaire the fast way.

It's still hard work though. However, you can probably combine the advice in that book and speed up the process of becoming a millionaire.

Once you get to that, I think you can live off a 3 percent interest. That's 30,000 dollars. I am pretty sure you can manage that if you live like a college student.

30.000 dollars is enough for middle-class living in the Third world :)

I'd spend part of the capital though, or invest on something with a better interest rate (like living off real-estate rent - my grandparents do that).

The book Fooled by Randomness on the other hand argues that the picture painted by The Millionaire Next Door is skewed by a double survivorship bias: it describes people who not only saved more than they spent, invested, etc. but also

(a) Happened to pick the stocks that outperformed the market, and (b) Invested during one of the strongest bull markets in history.

(Not to say who's right or wrong, just wanted to bring up an interesting counterpoint.)

As good as that book was, I liked Stanley's "The Millionaire Mind" even more: http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Mind-Thomas-J-Stanley/dp/0...

There were two groups that stood out in the book:

1. Professionals who did well and invested wisely. He noted that most professionals who do well, spend all of their income and often even more.

2. Business owners.

Both groups became millionaires through one means: business ownership - through stocks in case 1 and directly through case two.

I know several people who've done very well and it's because of their businesses. A junkyard owner, an owner of an electrician company, an owner of a used tire business are among those who have little or no post-high-school education. They all have far more in the bank than I do.

Note that all of these are all what the blog post calls "unsexy" businesses. They provide a product or service and charge for it.

The first million didn't happen for them in 3 years. But it did happen and for at least two of them (I lost touch with the junk yard owner) the money just keeps coming in.

Better yet: have you earned that million by creating many millions in value for your customers.

It sounds like you're saying that these millionaires who became millionaires through inheritance, hard work, and chance can't write a post like Jason's because of how they got there.

The reason they couldn't have made a post like Jason's might well be for many reasons, maybe they...

- don't want to share their experience and knowledge widely and freely

- think they're too busy to do the above

- hadn't considered blogging it

- are not as eloquent in distilling and expressing it.

I think there would be interesting and valuable lessons to learn from any of the millionaire types you mention - even from those who've done it only once, and from those who've failed trying.

This is great information either way.

One could argue that the advice is better if he isn't. Otherwise it would be just hindsight bias. Of course it would be interesting to see his status 3 years from now.

If you had a rare disease would you prefer a doctor who hasn't treated it before because of the potential for hindsight bias?

don't think so.

I know he has a social network for families with Mark Bao and an app store for business apps.

But at most those are 10-50K a year businesses...at least in the foreseeable future.

He has a couple more past businesses too. I'm not sure it matters though; he knows how to make money. The only real difference is volume.

In the context of "how to make a lot of money in a short time period", volume is pretty much the key differentiator.

Thats exactly what I mean. Jason may or may not have a million - but he understands how to make wealth. This is possible to scale to meet the timeline as required.

what? It means everything. Selling lemonade from a stand can be profitable, but the skills required for that to be successful in no way transfer to running a company that sells to every grocery store in america.

Interesting you should mention that. In this talk[1], Gary Vaynerchuk describes how he started a Lemonade business, hired all his friends to run the stands, and used the skills he developed doing that (and selling trading cards at the mall) to build his family's little liquor store into "WineLibrary.com" a 60M/yr business.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1447500

Those are just the two extremes; the effort required to scale from one to the other is probably a bit too steep in that case.

But if you read the post a lot of the same skills are there.

Anybody with a minimum-wage job knows how to make money. Volume is a pretty big difference.

They are earning, which is a completely different thing.

If it is easier to parse replace money with wealth in my original post.

Added some things, cleaned up a tiny bit, and made permanent this comment which people found useful last night: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1447428 Update: seems mediatemple is going schizo, so if things are loading slow, I apologize. They usually run smooth at this level of traffic.

Thanks for editing your comment and posting it. It's much nicer to read. And...

> Raise Revenue, Not Funding

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

> Look For Something That Is Required Or Subsidized By Law

I'd like to add that you should be careful about something that requires you to need constant permission from a third party. The iPhone market is a good example. While I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't develop for that market, you just need to be aware that whatever you do, your success depends on someone besides you or your potential customer saying "Yes."

VERY good point. I call this the "fallacy of control" ...

Basically, don't forget who controls the product/service/platform you're trying to build for or sell. The prime example of this is Pandora's epic journey through the annals of the music industry. Brilliant idea, brilliant execution, but almost didn't make it because they didn't actually have any control over the product they were selling (other peoples' music).

I've seen lots of companies start and fail trying to do similar things -- music, movies, TV shows, etc. So many ideas can be so simple ... "we'll create this awesome service that lets you pick your song and XYZ"

Or, more simply put: Be in control of your own supply chain.

> Fallacy of Control

I like this. I'm going to steal it for my own personal use in later conversations, where I will forget to credit it to you, Mr/Mrs NLH.

Holy crap, how did I forget your last point? I'm going to update with that when mediatemple is more stable (making edits seems to screw with the db) with credit to you. That's really important. Regulated industries with constant permission from a third party are things to try to stay away from. That can often intersect with "look for something that is required or subsidized by law".

>> Raise Revenue, Not Funding

> Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Why "thank you"? Are you looking for the truth, or just something that repeats what you wish were true?

The parent post is currently at -1. I'll bet the downvoters have not made millions from their startups.

The parent poster sold FriendFeed to Facebook last year in an estimated $50MM transaction. I would take his question seriously.

On the last point: anything dealing with ISO, Quality Assurance or auditing for big bisnesses will sell well. It is a massively underdeveloped market.

I used to be a manufacturing engineer, and from the perspective of a potential buyer I always thought it was a massively saturated market.

Depends which area your looking at. But for, say, ISO9001 qa and other auditing there is a distince lack of lean, usable tools. Esp for smaller businesses.

I think you have a good point about smaller businesses. When I worked for a medical device manufacturer I was amazed to find out how many of our suppliers were small businesses - in some cases very small.

Most lean small businesses avoid that sort of ISO* stuff for that reason

Possibly. But it's becoming less and less possible to do that; we are a lean small business and we are now having to achieve ISO accreditation to get contracts.

Even a large corporation is looking at 10's of thousands of pounds to pay a consultant to do the ISO work.

This is not just idle observation BTW: we are currently beta testing some tools to do self accreditation of ISO standards within the firm. So far we are looking at reducing those astronomical fees to "something additional for your admin staff to do".

The software has only been testing in about 30 companies and we already have about 50 word of mouth sales. This is a huge market.

Having worked on an FDA approved device, may I be the first to say STAY AWAY. I understand the rationale -- I look around at the sort of software every job except one I've worked at produces and am literally terrified of the idea of that software being the basis of medical decisions. The one place I felt built OK software had a nearly one to one ratio of qa to software developers. Nonetheless, having the FDA approve every software update is beyond frustrating, slow, and extremely expensive. Few things suck more than hearing people complain about bugs you fixed a year ago when you can't distribute updates to them until they get approved.

On the other hand -- I've seen software from an employer I won't name that informed a Dr that his patient was not pregnant. Which was good since the patient is male. And not postop male, but bio male. You see a few visible fuckups like this and get awfully skittish.

I think this is a really useful article, and honestly the advice sounds like good and rational advice. So I hope it's clearly that I'm genuinely not snarking when I say this:

Why would one want to be a millionaire?

This isn't to say that there's no reason to try. It's only to say that most people don't think about how much it costs to become a millionaire. Maybe some things are just worth more...

Hi Jason,

Great post, but just thought I'd mention I went searching for the RSS button on your site and couldn't find it anywhere (in fact, I subscribed to the comments on that post in my reader before I realized it was the wrong feed).

I could be blind, but in the end I noticed it was Wordpress so went to /rss/ to subscribe. Just thought I'd let you know!

Do something that makes $333,333.33 a year.

And end up a penny short. Oh, the disappointment.

gotta keep something to strive for.

Why do Projections always try to be linear? :http://scrivle.com/2010/06/22/why-do-projections-try-to-be-l...

Because no one is any good at math.

Once I saw an article on "How to Get a Rich Girl" one of these Maxim type magazines. I wonder if there were actually people reading it and thinking "yeah, I'm gonna read this and get me a rich chick!"

> If it’s a mass market “trend” that’s all over the news, it’s too late

If someone thinks it is a good idea, you are too late. - Yvon Chouinard

Jason is for sure not a millionaire, but in his article he just outlines some good tips on how to identify an opportunity.

I'm getting "No Results Found. The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post."

It seems appropriate.

Though I suppose every millionaire became a millionaire in three years, if you only start counting from three years before they became a millionaire.

I am, mostly through saving and real estate investment.

Would you still follow the same strategy in the current real-estate market?

Please don't take this wrong way, but: GAAAH my eyes!

The text is way too big, the margins way too wide, and the letters way too run-together.

(Readability ftw!)

No no, I won't. I tried optimizing the blog for the iPad a few weeks back. It works great there, but it's not the best for the actual computer. I'm going to scrap the current design and go with something fresher now that I'm writing more often. The iPad formatting? More on that later...

Thanks for your reply. Can't you detect if it's an iPad and use a different stylesheet or is that not possible? (don't know - I'm a mac user, but I'm not sold on the iPad).

You can certainly detect the user agent. Working on something a bit more in-depth than that though :).

I'd say go for it, but it really depends person to person. It's not perfect for everyone.

There are CSS expressions to use to send certain rules to ipads; no user-agent sniffing required.

> letters way too run-together


For those downvoting: it's a joke :D kerning == the way characters are drawn/rendered with their ligatures, etc, if badly kerned ------> keming.

From the person who asked this question on HN, I thank you Jason for making this blog post.

All the best!

I have a brilliant idea, But for this to work, one has to be a billionaire.

Get on the phone with Michael Milken and raise a few $100 million by selling junk bonds to eager investors if your idea is high-growth (note: he's banned from the industry but it's how a few billionaires got started).

I'm not asking about being digg proof, but not even HN proof?

can't access the article, seems to have been removed/deleted ?

Your font isn't very easy on the eyes...drop it down a few notches in size

agreed. Will update it later when mediatemple is more stable. thanks for the feedback.

until then you can use Readability bookmarklet http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/

so reposting people's comments as new content for your blog?

It's actually my comment.

And one that gains a lot from formatting beyond what HN provides. I was only able to skim the comment last night, but was able to sit and read the entire blog post with improved formatting.

> Smart people whom are successful usually got there by doing the same and have an innate desire to help those do the same.

Most smart people know not to overuse the dative form.

There's no need to be obnoxious, you can just tell him that he should have used who instead of whom. If you wanted to be extra neighborly, you could have provided a cool rule of thumb for gauging when to use which, suggest as "Try substituting him or he; him corresponds with whom whereas he corresponds with who."

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