Welcome to The Charleston Entrepreneur Podcast, where you go behind the scenes with financial planner and business exit planner Brett Fellows to hear stories of how leading Charleston entrepreneurs navigate the inevitable challenges that arise on the path to financial freedom and get insights from real business owners about how to break through to the next level in your business. And now here’s your host, Brett Fellows.
Hey everyone, welcome to The Charleston Entrepreneur Podcast. I am your host Brett Fellows, certified financial planner™ and Certified Exit Planner™ and founder and president of Oak Capital Advisors in Charleston, South Carolina.
My radical idea is that personal finance should be personal. I know it can be difficult to find good advice that applies to you. I know it’s not easy to convince you, wherever you are, that I really care about your life and your financial welfare. But believe it or not, I created this podcast for you. I’m interested in you.
I have this curiosity about business owners, what makes them unique and special, and what they want to do with their lives. Ultimately, the human element in each of us is what makes up personal finance. We are all business owners doing the best we can to make the right decisions about our personal lives with the information that we have.
In this podcast, I will give you everything I have to make you successful. I want you to live your most fulfilled life, and I know you can. Before we get started, please remember that everything I talk about in this podcast should be considered within the context of your own financial situation.
Today, I’m going to be talking about a few changes all business owners can make to improve their chances of financial success. Because let’s be honest, most business owners want to be rich. We take on more risk than most because we expect a larger reward. And in turn, we try to turn the money we earn into more money so we can eventually achieve that financial freedom.
So, we go searching for answers from the so-called experts. Yet out of the abundance of advice available, much of it ends up falling flat, failing to make any impact and failing to truly transform people’s lives. I’m not going to repeat that advice today. Instead, I hope to share some ideas with you that can actually move the needle for you if you choose to implement them in your life.
I have some business owner clients who from our very first meeting are focused and ready to make changes in order to attain their goals. I have other business owner clients, many of whom have enormous salaries and should be insanely wealthy, who suffer from some ingrained habits and thinking patterns that make progress toward building wealth difficult.
The common characteristic in the first group is that they know what they want to accomplish, and they have a fire burning to achieve it. This fire acts as motivation for them. They can overcome obstacles, poor habits and deep-rooted convictions to get what they want.
The most common characteristic I find in the second group is that they have competing goals. There is a desire for a wealthy future, but it competes with the comforts of now. This lack of clarity about what is most important makes it much more difficult to overcome obstacles, poor habits and deep-rooted convictions.
Why am I telling you this? Because building wealth requires a certain mindset. Some people can build and maintain wealth throughout their lives and even into subsequent generations. Others let every dollar they make slip through their fingers.
A business owner capable of building wealth isn’t necessarily more talented or luckier than everyone else. He or she simply views the world differently than the average person. These business owners evaluate tradeoffs incredibly well. Building wealth is part of who they are in every financial decision.
Those looking to build wealth take responsibility for their finances. They don’t blame the world or anyone else. They don’t ceaselessly lament the high cost of this and that, but instead accept the realities of the world in which they live. They assess the choices available and make smart decisions. You can do all of this as well, if you will allow yourself to develop a similar mindset.
Okay, well, you’re probably thinking, how do I do that? And of course, it’s not something that happens overnight. The first thing I tell all of our business owner clients who want to build wealth is that they need to understand and identify their values. So, what do I mean by values? Values are those qualities and principles intrinsically valuable or desirable to you. That means they have a particular significance. The words you use to describe them give you an emotional high, and their fulfillment is what your life is really about. They are life’s emotional payoff.
In other words, values are why you do what you do. For example, if you value your health and fitness, you’re more likely to exercise routinely than someone who values comfort and leisure. If you value financial security, you’re more likely to contribute regularly to retirement than someone who values extravagance or luxury. That’s why values are the bedrock of sound financial planning.
If you have a future, and most of us do, regardless of age or net worth, identifying your unique values first will help you realize what’s important to you, align your financial choices with the great life you want, and become inspired to do whatever it takes to have that life. If you were to consult the best financial advisors on how to plan for your future, they wouldn’t start, I hope, by educating you about the stock market or talking about mortality risk. They wouldn’t try to explain to you the pros and cons of mutual funds, ETFs or any other financial vehicles.
Instead, they focus on what’s important to you. They focus on your values, because in the grand scheme of things, money’s not actually all that important. It’s significant only to the extent that it allows you to enjoy what is important to you. And not worrying about your finances is critical to having a life that excites you, nurtures those you love and fulfills your highest aspirations.
That being said, most financial planning starts with an assessment of goals. And as important as goals are, they don’t provide you with the big picture—the why behind the rest of your plan—your values. Goals are the tangible results you seek, while values are the intangibles that make pursuit of those goals genuinely meaningful to you.
Okay, so now I hear you asking, how do I know what my values are? With our clients, when we approach this exercise, we ask that they have a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn about what makes their life meaningful to them. And we start by asking one simple question: What’s important about money to you?
Your job, the business owner client is easy. Just answer truthfully. The next step is to build on your answer by asking another question. But here we substitute your value for the word money. What’s important about your last answer to you? Again, you respond with your first thought, and then build upon that answer by asking again: What’s important about the value you just said to you?
You just continue this process, like going up a staircase as long as you can. Because it’s at the highest level where the greatest connection between your values and your financial future is made. I stress “to you” because money, like values, means different things to different people. Some pursue it for security, others for freedom, still others for something entirely different. But all values move us at our deepest levels because they are pure, undiluted emotions.
So, to help you put this into context, here are a few examples of the values I’ve heard from our business owner clients: independence, pride, providing for family, accomplishment, achievement, balance, making a difference, fulfillment, spiritual attainment, inner peace and self-worth.
Some of these may resonate with you, or your core values may be completely different. There are no wrong answers. Your answer is the right one. I encourage you to take time to ask yourself these questions and build your list of personal values. Because once you understand what’s really important to you, you can use this information to set goals that excite and inspire you, and you’ll be much more likely to make decisions that serve what you’re trying to achieve. This is what it means to change your mindset.
If you’re currently making short-term decisions that contradict your long-term goals, then you need to see where your values may be in conflict. Perhaps your definition of financial success looks different than what you originally thought. So, when you go through this exercise, don’t start with goals. Don’t start with how much money you have. Don’t start with how much you think you can get for your business. Start with your true core values. From here I promise it will be easier to develop habits and make decisions that serve you.
There’s a famous saying: When your values are clear, your decisions are easy. Thanks for tuning in today, everybody. As always, visit our website for more information, and request a free retirement assessment to get started on your retirement planning journey. And check out the show notes for more resources that can help you succeed. Until next time, have a great day.
This podcast is for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. This podcast is not engaged in rendering legal, financial or other professional services.