“There’s always, always an opportunity and today, in chaos, there’s going to be plenty. We teach everybody everything in high school, we don’t teach them how to invest.” Says Kelvin O’Leary. Here are some of the questions answered by Kelvin O’Leary.
Q. What would be your top side hustle right now.
If I have to start a side hustle right now to make extra money, I would go into the online digital assistant business. There are so many people scrambling to figure out their lives right now that need help in all kinds of things. And if you make yourself available, saying, “Look, I can be a fantastic digital assistant. Pick a number, maybe you charge 60 bucks or 100 bucks an hour. Give me a problem, I’ll fix it for you.” And stick it out there. Put yourself out on every social media platform as being available, ready to work 24/7.
Looking for help like that, whether it’s a mother trying to figure out how to do a repair in a pandemic world, or somebody that needs some help just in editing documents, or something to do with work or sales or support. Digital assistance is exploding because of all of the different ways you can communicate. You can do it online; you can be live with them in any host of different surface products that allow you to communicate directly with people all around the world.
It’s a big business for those who have the guts to get out there and start selling themselves as people who can solve problems. Believe me, in this world, there’s lots of problems to solve. People are just spending time looking at their laptops. Why don’t you be one of the people offering a product or service right now?
Q. Is it the best time to start your business
People ask me every day, “Is it a good time to start a business?” My answer? Yes, it is. There’s so much opportunity in chaos right now because so many people have time to sit and think. It’s a wonderful time to start a business, and obviously, it’s going to be a business that’s not going to use retail for its primary distribution, and that may be impaired forever anyways. You’ve got to create a product or service that you can communicate directly to people with, whether they be just domestic or international. You have to think of something that you can use technology to reach out to people, that you can find a way to take an idea, sell a product or service to people online, and it’s so easy to get into business today. The challenge is acquiring customers, but everybody’s sitting at home. People are getting used to buying products and services directly. Take advantage of that right now. There’s always, always an opportunity, and today in chaos, there’s going to be plenty.
Q. What’s the biggest mistake people make of all ages
The biggest money mistake people make today is they don’t put aside at least a hundred dollars a week towards their retirement. That’s the minimum number you have to apply. If you do that, and believe me, everybody can save a hundred bucks a week, if you’ve got a job and you’re getting paid only thirty thousand, forty thousand, fifty thousand, don’t spend on something you don’t need.
Put aside a hundred dollars a week. I’m big on this financial literacy we teach everybody everything in high school. We don’t teach them how to invest. The way to invest is to take $100 a week and put it to work. There’s all kinds of apps out there that help you do it right on your phone. The one that I’ve got involved in and I’ve heavily invested is called Beanstocks - b-e-a-n-s-t-o-x. Try that one, if you don’t like that one, try something else. But put a hundred bucks aside a week, put it into a diversified ETF, and let the market do its thing. By the time you retire in your mid-60s, you should have about - that’s the big mistake they make - they don’t invest for their future.
Q. What’s your advice on spending money
You know, I’ve said in the past, don’t spend money on coffee if you can’t afford it. That’s the key. If you have student loans, if you have credit card debt, if you have things that you’re paying interest on, you have to pay those off first before you spend four dollars on a cup of coffee. Why would you ever do that? Coffee cost you 18 cents to make at home if you want to. That’s where you should make it and put it in some kind of a thermos and take it to work, so it keeps hot. Why would you spend four dollars on something when you’re paying interest on debt?
The key is to get out of debt first. Sure, you can buy coffee when you can afford it. Sure, you can buy that extra thing you want or a new stereo or new jeans or new sneakers or whatever it is, all of that after you pay off your debt. Credit card debt is sometimes percent. You’ve got to get rid of those first, then you have the luxury of spending money on whatever you want, but not until you’re out of debt.
Q. At what point did you realize, something needs to be different
My big “aha” moment was getting fired from my first job on the first day I was there. That was really powerful. It taught me that there are two kinds of people. I was working in an ice cream store and the woman there told me, “You’ve got to clean all the gum off the floor before you leave.” And I said, “Hey, I’m not a scraper, I’m a scooper. You hired me as a scooper. I don’t want to scrape the floor.” She said, “How about this? You’re fired.” Then I learned in life there are two kinds of people. There are the people who own the store and there are the people that scrape it off the floor. You have to decide which one you are, and I would prefer to own the store. I’m not saying being an employee is a bad thing. It’s a very secure job if you’re a good employee. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not for me. And I’ve told that story countless times. It was my “aha” defining moment. I realized I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do, and the only way I can do that is work for myself. It’s that simple. You have to make that decision too, a different path in some ways, much harder. Personal freedom is working.
Q. What would you do if starting your business say didn’t work out
If starting my first company hadn’t worked out, I would have started my second company. If that failed, I would have started my third company. That failed, I would have started my fourth company. The point is, you only need one hit, and you just don’t know which one it’s going to be.
My motivation, and probably for most entrepreneurs, is to control my own destiny. You can’t make it work every time, but the point is, you have to keep trying. That’s the whole reason entrepreneurship is about personal freedom. It’s not about making money. You’re going to get that if you’re successful. That’s one of the derivatives. But the idea is controlling your own destiny means you have to work a lot harder. You’re going to fail a lot more, but when it works, it really works, and it gives you that personal freedom to pursue the things that you really want to do. And for me, you know what that is? I want to work more. That’s the whole point. I enjoy what I do. That’s entrepreneurship.
When you get up in the morning at 5:30 and go back to work, you know you’re doing something you love.
Q. What would you say it’s the most valuable asset.
What’s your most valuable asset in your life? It’s not money. It’s your time.
Time is what you use to make money. Time is what you use to enjoy yourself. Time is what you do to experience all the wonderful things life offers. The key to time is how you allocate it. You have to set your goals, sell your objectives to yourself. You have to work - that takes x hours. You want to enjoy yourself - that takes time too. You want to raise a family - it’s time. You want to pursue interests like hobbies and art, play guitar, whatever it is - it all takes time. Happy people have balance in their life; they’ve found a way to allocate time to all the things that mean something to them.
So, here’s a way to think about it: look at tomorrow and look at how you’ve allocated your time. Is there something there you really don’t want to do and don’t have to? Get rid of it. Don’t do it. Spend time on things that matter to you. You have to work to make money, I get that. But the rest of your day is yours. Think about how you spend it.