How to Build Wealth From Nothing (2023)

Understanding the true relationship between value and wealth

How to Build Wealth From Nothing (1)

Now, assume that you’re 20 years old, never been to the walls of the university, extremely broke, but hope to become wealthy in 10 years.

Today, we are going to be looking at all your options, breaking them into stages, and ultimately creating a pathway to wealth. In other words, we are going to hopefully build wealth from nothing.

Stage 1: Belief

Imagine the entire roadmap to wealth like a tree; your beliefs about wealth and money represent its roots. And just as every good tree is firmly rooted and poised towards creating good fruits, so does a good perception of wealth create sustainable prosperity.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wealth as the abundance of valuable possessions or money.

Although this definition gives us a proper premise to wealth, it is not all there is. You see, society has conditioned us to believe that wealth is the accumulation of material possession – the more of it we accumulate, the more wealthy we are. But true wealth is not authored by possessing a lot of stuff.

Author and Philosopher Henry David Thoreau describe wealth as the ability to fully experience life.

You can look at it as more of a feeling – the feeling you get when you know you can travel around the world, meet new people, experience different cultures, take care of your family, and live a healthy life.

From Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we can say that at the top of the pyramid – the stage of self-actualization, embodies abundance and wealth.

Author MJ Demarco in his book, the Millionaire Fastlane, divides wealth into Family (often referred to as our relationships), Fitness – which is our health, and Freedom – which is strongly influenced by the amount of money we have. He calls this the wealth trinity.

If you want to be wealthy, start by establishing and keeping quality relationships with your family and friends. It is little things like this that give life its meaning. Remember, no man who has quality friends is a failure.

Health is wealth. Net worth means nothing to a dead person. After accumulating all the money and increasing your net worth, poor health will surely stop you from enjoying your acquired fortune. You cannot fully experience life with ill health.

Wealth is also the freedom to live the life we want to live. And it is strongly influenced by our net worth or the amount of money we have. Freedom offers protection to our health and relationships – family requires money to run, and gym membership costs money. But this freedom is defined by you and you alone. Only you can decide the life you want to live, and having money in abundance makes this possible.

Now that we’ve briefly examined what wealth is and what it isn’t. And how money plays an important role in accumulating wealth, let’s talk about money.

From popular definitions, money is something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment.

But what is money to you? Something that buys stuff? An instrument of power? Or the payments for work completed?

While all these things are uses of money, they don’t fully tell us what money is.

Now, assume you have something I want, and I’m willing to pay you $100 for it, and finally, you agreed, the transaction mediator in this exchange is called money.

But what actually happened was the exchange of value. I value the thing you’re selling and you value the $100 I’m willing to pay for it.

However, the kind of value that is exchanged is determined by my sole use of the product. If I like the product, I could say that it was worth the price or even more. And if I don’t, it was worthless.

It is important to note that the kind of value that was exchanged before the use of the product was perceived value, and the one after was actual value.

So, looking at this closely, money can be seen not just as an exchange of value but the exchange of perceived value.

Anytime you pay for something you’ve never used, you are paying for perceived value. Money’s velocity is only predicted on perceived value, not actual value.

That’s why scammers use slick marketing and advertising to sell snake oil to individuals because they know that if they can make them see how valuable their products are without actually using them, they’ll get your money.

However, providing actual value is necessary for the creation of sustainable wealth. At the core of wealth creation is value – actual value.

Wealthy people know that money is not pursued but attracted. So they spend their time becoming value magnets and not money chasers.

Stage 2: How to Become Valuable

Becoming valuable could be as simple as becoming a creator, an inventor, a coach, or an influential employee in your office. The goal here is to learn a specialized skill or get into a career path that has high demand in the market. So, do your research and look for a high-income skill that you’re interested in. And you must be willing to do whatever it takes to get into the position of value.

Following our early assumption that you’ve not gone to college, the two paths towards attaining value would be grouped as the: University route and the Non-University route – each having its merits and demerits.

The University Route

If you decide to go to University, I want you to know that it is the last place to learn about making money.

You see, the university is set up as an institution of higher education and research that awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Now, this degree enables you to get a job.

In other words, the University, by nature of its structure, prepares you for a job. While this is not a bad thing, getting a job, especially a high paying job that you enjoy, is not a guarantee. Most people are underemployed these days, staying in a job they hate but have no option because, well, it pays the bills.

Nowadays, the hiring process has changed. Employers are not just interested in your grades, but more emphasis is placed on your experience on the job and your interpersonal relationship skill. Unfortunately, we barely learn this at the University. For the high tuition fees, that’s like a low return on investment. With the rise of online schools and courses offering quality education at a lower cost, the university is slowly losing its popularity.

However, if you’re going for a specific career path, the university might still be the best way. But research all your options before making up your mind.

The Non-University Route

If you decide not to go to university, there are online schools and courses you can take that are inexpensive. But a word of caution: there are a lot of fake gurus out there selling overpriced courses with little or no significance, that is, at best, a waste of your time and money. So ensure you do your research before you pay.

Since we assumed that you’re extremely broke, to fund these courses you may consider getting a job or doing menial work. And If you’re lucky, you may get a job relating to the skill you’re currently learning.

Now, regardless of the route you decide to take, the mindset of constant learning and improvement is crucial in attaining sustainable wealth. What I mean is that you should never be satisfied with your current level of proficiency. Read books, get a mentor, go to seminars, listen to podcasts, do anything that will broaden your experience. Throughout the process of becoming wealthy, becoming valuable is unending. As author Jim Rohn once famously said: “Formal education will make you a living but self-education will earn you a fortune.”

So let’s say you’ve achieved considerable value, this brings us to the third and stage: the consequences of value.

Attaining value will ultimately lead you to get a job or create a business.

If you end up getting a job that you like and that pays well: congratulations. But for most of us, this isn’t attainable. The majority of us are underemployed, working on jobs we hate. And what we commonly do is to create a side hustle or work multiple jobs to increase our income.

The problem with having a job is that you have no control over your income and not to forget, you also trade your time for money.

The alternative is to create a business. Most people start at becoming self-employed, but this is like having a 9 to 5 job, often requiring your time and effort.

Author Robert Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad talks about the cashflow quadrant which implies that for you to effectively create wealth you must leave the level of the employee or self-employed and become a business owner or an investor.

Becoming a business owner means that your business is independent of your time – you get to make money even when you decide to make money. However, creating a system like this that runs on its own requires a lot of time and effort during the inception.

I see many people talking about leaving their 9 to 5 and starting their own business, but what they don’t talk about is how most businesses fail at inception and the difficulties involved in creating and maintaining a sustainable business.

This video is not to talk about the intricacies of entrepreneurship and starting a business, but if you must create wealth, you must find a way to make money that is independent of time and effort.

Now let’s talk about the two most important things you must do whether you own a business or not. Saving and Investing.

Start by leaving below your means. However, living below your means doesn’t necessarily mean imbibing in extreme frugality, but using it as a means of expanding your means. You see, saving alone, is a horrible way of creating wealth, but if these savings are invested in appreciable assets, they can serve as a wealth multiplier. Some of these appreciable assets include businesses, intellectual property, real estate, licenses, and patents.

If after completing all the stages you attained wealth, congratulations, welcome to the lucky 1%. Yes, I said luck because you’ll need it on the journey of becoming wealthy. But I want you to know that successful people are the ones who met luck while doing the work and took advantage of it.

Wealth is a process, and not an event. From the moment you’ve decided to be wealthy and worked towards it, you attained it.

Author TS Eliot says it better:

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

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