We’re always looking for inspiration on how to reach the next level, personally and professionally. When the going gets tough, we think about how we can do things differently. We believe in having a can-do attitude! That’s what we love about Dave Ramsey. Dave recently shared with us how his past experiences led him to start Ramsey Solutions. We are inspired by how he turned things around after losing everything! Dave gave us with some great advice on debt, money management, and how to succeed in business. We’re thrilled to pass these super helpful tips on to you:
You’ve built your company from the ground up, literally, after the need to overcome a state of severe debt. At what point did you have that “aha” moment telling you it was time to make a plan? What path did you take to originally get yourself out of debt?
When my wife Sharon and I went broke and lost everything, we were two twenty-eight year olds with a toddler and a brand-new baby. It was my fault. I did stupid things with money. Hitting bottom and hitting it hard was the worst thing that ever happened to me and the best thing that ever happened to me. I immediately went on a quest, a quest to find out how money really works. That quest led me to a really, really uncomfortable place—my mirror. I figured out that I needed to manage the character I shaved with every morning. I started applying ideas like having a budget and an emergency fund, getting out of debt and staying out of debt. And our lives started turning around.
After such an experience with money, you realized it was beneficial to share your knowledge with the world. What is your insight on how the general population treats and reacts to the discussion of money?
Wealth building isn’t rocket science, which is a good thing for me (and most of us!). People know what to do; they just don’t do it. We teach that winning with money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. The challenge is you. You are the problem with your money. The good news is you’re also the solution. The discussions we’re having about money should revolve around the steps we can take today to do away with a lifetime of worry, frustration, stress, and fear, because that’s what being broke brings.
Money, debt, etc. is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face today. What advice do you have for budding business owners?
The first thing I’d say is congratulations! I think this is the best time in the history of man to be in business. The opportunities are endless. Whether you’ve been in business for fifty years or fifty minutes, be smart and be wise. Do the accounting. Most small businesses fail because of poor accounting. They start without enough money (undercapitalized). They miss projections. They don’t pay their quarterly taxes or their payroll taxes, and they run into “cash flow problems.” Remember that debt magnifies mistakes. I could write an entire book on the errors and miscalculations I’ve made, and since I don’t know which one of my “brilliant” ideas is going to be a mistake, it would be unwise to borrow in order to implement something that may not work. It will only increase the size of my mistake. The truth is that by starting small and gradually expanding, you lower the risk and minimize the size of the mistakes you will make.
Do you find that those working toward the growth of a website or blog have the same issues with finances as those looking to open brick and mortar stores?
Our struggle with finances only change in scale. No matter what business you’re in and no matter how large you get, if you do not follow common sense, conservative money principles, you will leave yourself and your business vulnerable to the whims of your competitors, every little ripple in the market, and certainly to big shifts in the economy.
With so many different facets of business, what is your definition of an “entrepreneur.”
The root of the word “entrepreneur” is a French word, “entreprendre,” meaning “one who takes a risk.” That includes both business owners and a certain mindset of some of the people within those businesses. Included in that mindset are things like passion, drive, work ethic, and creativity. We want the spirit of the entrepreneur woven into our company culture.
Business owners or budding entrepreneurs are no strangers to hard work and dedication, but what about family and social life? How does one looking to start a business find balance between the two?
A balanced life doesn’t occur randomly. You have to be intentional about it, setting goals in seven specific areas. My late friend Zig Ziglar called this the wheel of life. Picture a circle divided into seven areas: financial, physical, spiritual, intellectual, family, social, and career. You need a written goal in each of these areas. Naturally you will be stronger at some areas than others, but you have to work on each one to keep the wheel from going flat. Remember that goals cannot be vague. They must be specific and measurable.
So many have great ideas that they know will make them money, so they turn those ideas into a successful business. How important is it to make sure you’re only running a business doing what you love?
What you’re talking about here is passion. Passion causes things to move. When you’re doing what you love, you care deeply; that’s passion. It’s important as you assemble your team that you surround yourself with passionate people too. People are naturally more productive when they care deeply about outcomes and the organization. They care more about the customer and for their fellow team members. Passion is so key in leading and creating excellence that I will hire passion over education or talent every time. Of course I prefer both, but given a choice I’ll take passion.
Do you think business owners can ever stop learning? Even after establishing a business empire, do you believe there is still always more to find?
Never stop learning. Never stop growing. You can become a master at any subject. I tell our team to read as much as possible. Next to relationships, books can be our greatest teachers. I believe learning dramatically increases your productivity and creativity, and it equips you for any situation.
NAME Dave Ramsey
LOCATION Nashville, TN
TITLE President, Ramsey Solutions