Original question from Quora:

What things can I do in my 20s to become a millionaire by 30?

What are some habits or practices of successful entrepreneurs, business people, and small business owners? And what are some suggestions for making money online, investing, or building out startup on route to the million.

My Answer:

If you want to be a millionaire by the time you are 30, there is one thing you need to get good at, so you better start practicing now.

Have you ever heard of the red paperclip? There is a guy who traded a red paperclip for bigger and better things until he ended up with a house. Yes, a house. No joke.

Check out the video for the full story:

Now, what does trading a paperclip for a house have to do with becoming a millionaire in the next decade?

Everything.

Right now you have a small amount of money at your disposal, say a few hundred dollars cash. And, you have some skills at your disposal.

To become a millionaire, you need to trade your money and skills for ever bigger things until you have a million dollars.

Think about it, every time you buy something, you tare taking some dollars and exchanging it for something of equal or (hopefully) greater value. Over time, you should be able to keep making trades until you have something incredibly valuable.

When you go to work, you get paid $X per hour or day right? So, after some period of time you have money you can do something with. If you want, you can buy things with it, but what you buy is going to have a huge impact on where you end up.

Most people buy things that are disposable and lose their value. For example, when you pay interest on a credit card you are lighting money on fire. There is no value in doing that. It simply eats money.

Even worse, when you buy a candy bar, you eat the candy bar and the value is gone. Luckily it’s cheap, but many times people will spend $20 to go out to a movie or $100 to go to a theme park or to play golf or drink beer.

Once that money is spent, it’s gone. It has no lasting value.

Part of becoming a millionaire is doing the red paperclip trick and being smart about what trades you make so that you get ever more valuable things.

Here’s an example of a good trade - you buy a used copy of Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill for $1 at Goodwill and you read the book. It gives you ideas and an outlook that allows you to start a business that makes you thousands of dollars.

Dollar well spent.

Time well spent.

Most people rarely make that trade. Millionaires make that kind of trade far more often.

Here’s another thing you need to do as you are thinking about those trades that the red paperclip guy did really well…

You need to practice selling.

Every transaction in life is some kind of sale. Either you are the buyer or the seller. Practice being the seller.

Start selling and trading things on Craigslist. You’ll learn more selling used junk on Craigslist about selling than you will from reading books or articles on the internet. Also, while you’re young take a part time job selling things on the weekends. Maybe work at a furniture store, a used car lot, or somewhere else where you have direct customer sales experience face-to-face.

You wouldn’t believe how many of the richest people and the best businessmen got their start selling door to door. You know, things like encyclopedias, vacuums, knives, pots and pans, and so on.

And when you learn these skills of selling and trading, you’ll soon realize that every time you get a job, you can negotiate for a better deal. You can change jobs as you grow your value to your current or future employers.

You can do so many things with the ability to sell and trade because the higher up you go, the ability to sell is what separates people at the top. Whether it’s selling an idea, a product, a service, or yourself, 85% of your success in becoming a millionaire is your ability to sell, not your technical skills.

You show me a millionaire, and I’ll show you someone who can sell, because that’s how the most successful people, even the Kim Kardashians of the world make their money.

-Brian

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