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Successful companies teach us how to be wealthy


"Wealth is having everything you need and nothing you don't."
- MaryEllen Miller

 A successful company, at the very beginning, starts with an idea. This idea is all it (and it's founders) have to go by. And all of us, at the very beginning, start with time. Time is all we have. Of course, just like the successful company has the laurels of it's founders along with the idea, we have the laurels of our parents or the city in which we are born in in addition.

From the moment the idea originates, the founders act on it, build prototypes, figure out what product they can build on it that would have willing buyers. And with our time, we figure out what we can do, that we are good at, and develop skills that we one day will have buyers for.

Once this initial product is built and an initial bunch of buyers found, a sense of potential is established. And then people with money (investors) come in to help scale this idea, this product, and turn it into a business, a company. This might happen very easily if you're a Mukesh Bansal who has gone through this process once before and sold Myntra, or it can happen with a lot of difficulty if you're a first time founder, a relative nobody. Even with our time, if we show a similar potential, people (equivalent of investors) will offer scholarships, cheaper loans, and the like to channel this potential into something marketable.

And then revenues begin to grow, resulting in a steady cash flow, but a depletion in the potential of the idea itself as you milk more and more out of it. Just like we find a job and grow our incomes until we hit that ceiling where we have to do more than what we have been doing to get that promotion and move up the corporate ladder.

This is moment when the quote I started this post with comes into play. And I'll take the example of Amazon and Apple to highlight the scenario that a company might find itself in. Either it is innovating fast enough to put all the cash it is accumulating into developing ideas that will grow that cash pile even faster, like Amazon, or it is not innovating fast enough to deploy all that extra cash that is piling up in the bank, like Apple. You might call me crazy for saying Apple isn't innovating fast enough, but that's exactly what Wall Street thought when Apple's share prices fell a couple of months ago. At this point, a company is successful. And my definition for success that it is generating cash through revenues fast enough to re-invest and grow into other areas or be in a position to not know what to do with all the cash.

We might hit a similar position where we are freeing up time fast enough to either re-invest that time in pursuing newer things that enrich us or to not know what to do with all the free time that we have. And this is the point of having everything you need. And the point where we have to start paying attention to nothing we don't.

Most of us don't pay attention to the nothing we don't and continue taking on more things, either to do with our time or to buy with our money, in the assumption that the more we have is better. But the things we do and the things we buy come with a cost, a cost not of acquisition but of upkeep, in terms of mental time to be devoted, physical effort to be devoted or money to be spent. And what is spent tends to grow faster than what is enriching that is returned.

Just like a successful company picks wisely on what new things it wants to invest in and doesn't blindly go after every new area that it can potentially be in, we can draw that line between having everything we need and nothing we don't.

No successful company carries dead weight. And neither should we. Wealth is not just in the acquiring. Shed the flab. Shed what you don't need.

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