As I split my time between Main Street and Wall Street, so to speak, dispensing business advice that straddles entrepreneurship and the global financial markets, I have increasingly been getting more questions on investment strategies from entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and those with more of a passive interest in business.
So, when I got a chance to get an early read of my CNBC colleague Jeff Cox’s new book, The 30-Minute Millionaire, I thought it was such an excellent blueprint for the future that I not only endorsed it, but also wanted to share some of the key takeaways here. Below are some of Jeff’s thoughts about investing in both the market and your business in the “new normal” of our broader financial climate.
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Q: What is the “The 30-Minute Millionaire”? You can’t possibly mean that you can make a million dollars in 30 minutes?
Cox: Indeed, “The 30-Minute Millionaire” is no get-rich-quick scheme. It is, however, a get-rich-smart opportunity that sets a blueprint for the future of investing. Let’s face it, times are changing and that applies to investing as much as anything else. The days of easy money are over. The Fed has stopped the printing presses and is getting off zero interest rates. Corporate earnings are flat-lining, and we’re facing a prolonged period of slow economic growth. Investors need to adapt. “The 30-Minute Millionaire” shows how.
Q: What’s the biggest investing mistake people make?
Cox: We live in a world of constant information flow, which changes the collective mindset faster than the click of a mouse. In absorbing all this information, too many investors feel they have to react to every new economic data point, every morsel of corporate information, every slight tick in the news cycle. Investors are thinking short-term at a time when the long view is absolutely critical to future success.
Q: For younger folks who may have a ton of student debt — or anyone who has debt from credit cards, car loans, etc. — how do you advocate that they balance paying down debt and investing?
Cox: One word comes to mind: discipline. In practical terms, that means coming up with reasonable allocations toward both paying down debt and allocating for the future. We understand it’s difficult. One of our big things in the book is that we get this obstacle called “life” that gets in the way. We want to emphasize that it’s never too late to start investing, and that even if you can’t allocate as much as you’d like right now, put away what you can, and build to the future.
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Q: What do you say to people that have seen a lot of messes — from the 2007 / 2008 financial crisis to central banks around the world, including the Fed, bloating their balance sheets to unprecedented levels — and are scared of investing?
Cox: We understand and empathize — completely. Lack of confidence and conviction has been one of the hallmarks of the current bull market. There’s still $2.8 trillion in cash sitting on the sidelines right now in zero-yielding money market accounts, the product in large part of folks reticent to put their money to work in a market they feel can give out beneath them at any time. What the book seeks to do is establish a balanced portfolio that might not catch all the upside of the market but will protect you on the downside.
Taking that first step, though, is the most important part. We are employing the somewhat unorthodox approach of telling people to stop picking stocks — let the pros do that — and employ mostly passive strategies for the road ahead.
Q: If you are entrepreneurially inclined, do you think that you are better off investing in the market or in your own entrepreneurial endeavor — and how do you manage both?
Cox: The last word of your question is the key — “both.” Critical to the book is our belief that you should be spending less time on your investments. Set a course for the future and stick with it through the variations of market gyrations, which we believe will be plentiful in the years ahead. More specifically, I think we’d rather see you spend more time growing your business.
What we wouldn’t recommend is making this an either-or proposition. Sadly, businesses fail, but that doesn’t have to be true of business people. Sound investment strategies will provide entrepreneurs with the necessary safety net, so they can focus on their endeavors.
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Q: What one piece of advice about investing do you want to leave people with?
Cox: Use your time wisely. When it comes to investing, less often is more.