How to Get Rich
by Felix Dennis

The book that started it all

If you only read one book, make it this one. This is the one that made me get started. It’s a shockingly personal and searingly honest account. Whatever your business and however complex it is, at some point it had to get started and at some point a deal had to be closed. That is the essence of entrepreneurship and in How To Get Rich Dennis offers a life lesson in how to do both things well.

The bombastic, vulgar title is a warning: do not expect to build a successful company without being able to view a conversation or a transaction in the most basic, brutally commercial terms. Learn to love talking about money – Dennis clearly does and by the end of the book you will too. Either that or – according to him – you’re in the wrong game. Don’t get embarrassed, leave that for the 99% of people who crave security and friendship from their work: they will make you rich.

Don’t fear failure, or rather, understand your fear, look it in the eye and then defeat it. Understand that others want you to fail (whatever they may say) and treat their advice accordingly.

I’d guess that most people will either love or hate this book. I read it in Christmas 2007 (thanks Dad) and resigned on May 18th 2008 from my perfect job so you know how I felt about it.

2-minute summary

Anyone can become rich. Main qualities required are confidence and luck (but not if you seek it). Stamina and tunnel vision also help.

As a young, penniless person you are much better off than a 30/40/50 year old wage slave with a track record and “reputation” to worry about.

  1. Harness the fear of failure. Understand that it is this fear that keeps people chained to their desks working for a meagre salary (in Dennis’s terms all salaries are meagre) instead of pursuing their dreams and (maybe) becoming rich themselves.
  2. The search. You've decided to get rich - but doing what? Too many people want to make films in California. Not enough people want to dig holes in the ground. Don’t make a fetish of your passion. Look for where the new opportunities are. Go where the money is. Prepare intensively: don’t mistake recklessness for boldness.
  3. The fallacy of the great idea. Ideas are nothing without great execution. Ideas don’t make you rich: great execution of ideas will make you rich.
  4. Obtaining capital. Do everything in your power not to have to raise capital. If you do, raise it from the smallest possible source (family / friends).
  5. The most common startup errors.
    1. Keep payroll down to a minimum. Overhead walks on two legs.
    2. Never sign long-term office agreements or rent expensive space. Never buy a business meal if the other side offers to.
    3. Pay yourself just enough to eat.
    4. No staff credit cards, company phones or cars.
    5. Play suppliers off against each other ruthlessly.
    6. Don’t do factoring.
  6. Think big, act small. He means aim high, take risks, but don’t behave like a dick once you’ve made some money.
  7. Talent: it is possible, when you come across real talent, to allow someone to create the structure in which they wish to labour. Do everything to find and nurture talent.