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Starting from scratch: The four keys to entrepreneurial success

Do you ever get a sick feeling in your gut on Sunday night?

Thats the question I asked readers four years ago when I published the first version of this book. Since then, the economy has tightened and fuel prices have skyrocketed. Now, more than ever, people are sick to their stomachs with worry that their hard work will not provide them and their families with the income they need to live the lives theyve dreamed. And I still say I know the best medicine for that sick feeling: ownership of your own career.

It has been an amazing few years for me and the 21 entrepreneurs I profiled in the fi rst edition of Starting from Scratch, which was published in 2005. When I checked back in with each of them, I found they were still moving forward and achieving their dreams.

They are ordinary people, just like you, who got tired of dreading the beginning of each week. They made the sick feeling of worry go away, and they did it by building wealth and security doing what they love.

They started their own companiesfrom scratch. And four years later, their stories still have the power to inspire. Their stories can help you get out of the paycheck rut, build your own wealth and security through entrepreneurship, and find a career you actually love.

For me, researching and writing Starting from Scratch has led to an unbelievable few years. Ive used what I learned from these entrepreneurs, and it has had a dramatic impact on my own business.

By interviewing these entrepreneurs, I identifi ed four steps that led each of them to extreme entrepreneurial success. I called these principles the art of the HUNT. When I recommended that readers follow these four steps to find their own success, I had no idea how this would affect me. Id been following these principles unconsciously in my own career, but writing them down and explaining them made me embrace them in a deeper way. I hope reading this book will do the same for you.

Heres how the HUNT worked for meand how it can work for you:

1. Harness what you have.
Embark on a two-part process of self-discovery. First, identify your skills. Then, fi gure out something tangible that you love: a product, industry, or trade that youre proud to be associated with. Put them together and youve got a career or business venture. As a certifi ed fi nancial planner, my job is to help people achieve major fi nancial goals, such as establishing a comfortable retirement, starting a business or second career, or putting kids through college.

I took a long look at my skills and found the one that really stood out: communicating with my clients. The more I harnessed my love of communication, the more my career has grown. It wasnt that I didnt know my clients, it was just that in the rush to build my investment practice, I found I wasnt spending as much time listening and communicating. So I started spending more time with my clients and their families, sitting down with them and discussing what they wanted to achieve. Not only could I help them obtain their goals, but it gave me great satisfaction to know that I was doing something important. When I really got to know folks, things started to move in positive directions!

As I took the time to understand my clients better, this led to closer relationships, which in turn led to more referrals. Really harnessing my communication skills led to a fl urry of new clients an new relationships. My business grew exponentially.

When I harnessed my communication skills, I also realized how much I love public speaking. This realization really hit when I spoke at Atlanta Magazines Luxury Expo on the topic of wealth management.

When I arrived to speak, I discovered that there was no podium to stand behind. I wouldnt be able to glance down at my stack of notes, as I usually did. That was the day I went from being a stuffy lecturer to being a speaker who engages with his audience. I took off my tie and threw away my notes. For the fi rst time in my life, I actually had fun giving a presentation! I just dove in and spoke extemporaneously. To this day, I have never used notes again.

I had fun, the audience had a blast, and the response from that day led to invitations for me to speak at over a hundred events! The power of having fun while you work and loving what you do is truly amazing!

Giving talks at trade conferences, chambers of commerce, Rotary Clubs, colleges, and charity events has introduced me to an enormous amount of new people, new professionals, and new centers of influence. People come to my Web site,, to fi nd out when Ill be speaking next. This has grown my investment practice and helped me build a wide network of professionals. These CPAs, attorneys, mortgage bankers, and insurance specialists then become resources for my clients. Harnessing my natural skills has helped me truly become a financial quarterback to all of my clients!

2. Underestimate your obstacles.
Practice the learned trait of optimism. Defi ne a vision and mentally bypass the multitude of things that can go wrong or that stand in your way. This way, you can really focus on your own personal and all-important vision. Long before Starting from Scratch, I had always dreamed of doing a radio show about personal fi nance. For me, the biggest obstacles were the ones standing between me and this dream. Obviously, its not easy to land your own radio show. Becoming part of the media, let alone the financial media, is a tough nut to crack. I attempted to start a radio show in Atlanta and kept running into walls, over and over again. Only three stations would even consider it; one of these stations had no listeners, and two had longtime fi nancial hosts who had been on the air for more than a decade each.

And there I was, barely 30 years old, the new kid on the block, just trying to make a name for myself. I got shot down continually; program directors never got back to me, and it was one rejection after another. One station did call me backto tell me they wanted me to pay for the air time. I could easily have given up. But the stories of the people in this book inspired me to push forward and to try to make my dream a reality. And one day it was.
I had been feeling pretty discouraged about my radio show, when I had a chance meeting one day at a little Italian restaurant. I was there with my nine-months-pregnant wife in the hopes that some rich food would get her labor started. We bumped into a guy who worked in radio, someone Id met at one of my speaking engagements. He asked me, Why dont you have a radio show? When I explained how Id been trying, he gave me names of some program directors and told me to call them up again and see if something had changed.

Sure enough, when I followed up, I found one of the longtime hosts had left. The next thing I knew, I was on the air, and Ive been live on the radio every Sunday morning ever since. Ive achieved my lifelong dream. Plus, I stay sharp and focused on the fundamentals of fi nancial advice because I take questionsevery single week!

3. Notice your network.
Engage in a process of external recognition. Find those around you that can assist you in realizing your vision, and utilize the leverage that others can provide to reach your particular goal. During my speaking engagements, I meet people who can become complementary business partners: CPAs, attorneys, insurance experts, mortgage experts. Instead of just networking for networkings sake (to get new clients), I was out there like any entrepreneur who loves what hes doing. I talked about my book, what it could do for people, and how I apply its principles to my own business. Someone once told me networking is one letter away from not working. What they meant was that you can meet all the people in the world and collect all the business cards you want and get zero business from it. It was up to me to take those key contacts and utilize them to help both my clients and myself.

The professionals I meet often end up referring new clients to me. This is because I make an effort to notice the network. I say to them, Heres what I do, and heres how I can help your clients if you refer them to me. I say the same things to my clients: Ive helped you and your family, and Id love to do the same for your friends and colleagues.

4. Take the next step.
Develop a bias toward action. This step provides the catalyst that makes any entrepreneurial dream or vision turn into reality. Without it, there is no HUNT. Focusing on my love of communication led to more clients and more community contacts. At every step along the way, I had to take action: asking for referrals, asking for a radio show, and eventually asking for a television segment on the local NBC station in Atlanta. Even though I had learned plenty of recognition from writing a book, no program director ever came to me and asked, Hey, would you like to do a radio show? No CPA ever called and asked, Hey, Wes, can I refer my clients to you? None of my success occurred without me taking action to get what I wanted. Even with all the media and recognition Ive received, Ive always had to (and still have to) go out and ask for every single opportunity.

Using the principles of the HUNT has led to more than a 200 percent increase in my business over four years, which has fi nancial- ly transformed my life. My wife and I finally felt comfortable about starting a family, and we know well have time, freedom, and fi nancial capital to continue to grow our family. All the entrepreneurs in this book will tell you the same thing: opportunity isnt behind every door, but if you open up enough doors, youll fi nd opportunity!

If you have ever wanted to work for yourself but could never fi gure out which career path to choose, then this is the right book for you. Each of the stories in this book is about ordinary people who turn into extraordinary entrepreneurs. Just read their stories, listen to their secrets, and think about how you would fi t into one of their industries or another industry. This is the fi nal step you have been waiting for, the step that will fi nally lead you toward a life where you are living to work and not working to live.

Purchase Starting from Scratch, published by Kaplan Publishing, on Amazon.  Part II of this book will be available next week.

Wes Moss is a Certified Financial Planner in Atlanta Georgia, a partner at Capital Investment Advisors Inc., and the host of MONEY MATTERS on News Talk 750 WSB the nations longest running call-in investment and personal finance radio show.



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Starting from scratch: The four keys to entrepreneurial success