Success in business or the markets used to be impenetrable unless you looked and acted like Gordon Gekko.
But the internet has become the great leveller, allowing entrepreneurs, capital market investors, and real estate investors to break in and succeed like never before.
No longer is pedigree or the “old boy’s network” a factor. Today’s success stories come from scrappy capitalists who have broken the old rules and are building businesses or investing with new tools and new information… and guts.
A scrappy capitalist lives by a set of six rules. Here’s the second one:
SCRAPPY CAPITALIST RULE #2: FIND A MODEL THAT WORKS FOR YOU
I should note first that when I say “model” I could mean “business model” or “capital market investment model” or “real estate investment model” — and sometimes other people use words like “system” or “formula” or “algorithm” or “blueprint”. I also talk a lot about sales funnels on my blog, which are a way to talk about models for businesses.
Ultimately, you’re looking for a clear, simple way to analyze opportunities and act on them to profit. Think of it as a step-by-step operational plan that you follow regularly.
For a day trader, it might look something like this (Note: This is an incomplete example for illustrative purposes only):
- Use a stock screener tool to sort stocks based on fundamental parameters.
- Narrow search to the top 10 stocks to watch for the week.
- Watch technical indicators for specific technical events that signal opportunities.
- Trade with the goal of making a minimum of $500/day without dedicating more than 25% of my investable capital into any single stock
- Place trailing stop-buy or stop-sell triggers if the stock goes more than 20% in the wrong direction.
A freelancer’s model might look like this:
- Sort projects on Elance or Guru to find the top 10 projects that apply to me.
- Bid on 2 projects per day.
- Write a blog post and comment on a minimum of 5 other blogs per day.
- Spend a minimum of 6 hours a day doing billable work.
Now that I’ve showed you some really basic examples, here are some tips to help you find a model that works for you, whether you are a scrappy capitalist who focuses on business, the capital markets, or the real estate market:
- Don’t start from scratch and don’t reinvent the wheel. Find what other people are succeeding with and use it as your starting point. Build from there.
- When looking for a model to follow, start with the experts. If I were building a value investing model, I would pull my copy of Graham and Dodd’s Security Analysis from my bookshelf (one of the best books ever, by the way) and start there. Figure out the model THEY use to invest in undervalued stocks. I can always augment but they have a great approach. As a side note, remember to only build a model based on successful models. I used to take advice from someone I respected until I realized that they didn’t actually own a successful business. Once I started ignoring their advice, my business model changed and my business grew.
- When building your model, augment it based on what you’re comfortable with and what your skills and strengths are. When I was first starting out, I had a lot of time and no money (just like every other entrepreneur! haha) so my business model was one that leveraged all of that time I had.
- Build measurables into your model. Your model becomes a to-do list and a way for you to make sure that you are doing enough to succeed in whichever business/market area you’re in. Early in my business, for example, I knew that I needed to send out 2 proposals per day, 5 days a week. Based on my numbers, I knew that would give me the amount of business I needed.
- Constantly test and refine your model. I just mentioned that I used to send out 2 proposals per day, 5 days a week. That was part of my model. But as I built my business, my proposals improved and so my close-rate improved and I no longer needed to send out quite as many proposals. Soon it was 1 proposal per day. Then 3 a week. Then even fewer. All of this comes from testing and making changes based on that testing. The same goes for capital market investing: Maybe you find that you have success in junior resource stocks and, as your investing continues, you discover that you do particularly well with junior resource investing stocks that specialize in gold. Your model changes slightly to reflect that. The same goes for real estate investing: Maybe at first you try various types of real estate investing and you refine your model. Soon you discover that you prefer wholesaling houses under 1500 square feet in the midwest. As you refine your model, your business becomes leaner and more profitable.
- If your business doesn’t have positive cash flow, there is something wrong with your model. If your business is unprofitable, there’s something wrong with your model. Go back and look at each step in your model to find out what the problem is. Some examples: Businesses without positive cash flow might be invoicing clients too late; investors without positive cash flow might not be selling with fast enough turnover.
- If you want to change your business, you have to change your model. For years, I wanted to work a little less (because freelancing can be VERY busy work!) but I never changed my model. I had to go back to basics and retool my entire model in order to change my business.
Scrappy capitalists create their own opportunity and claw their way to the top of the success ladder. They do this by finding a model that works for them and building on it.
Stay tuned. I’ll reveal the next rule of the scrappy capitalist soon.