Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs all agree. Focus is the most important factor to their success. Read on to find out how to use focus to become a millionaire.
In 1991 when Bill Gates's father asked his son, Bill, and Warren Buffet what the most important factor for success was, they both gave the same answer: "focus."
According to Dictionary.com, to focus is to "concentrate attention in one direction."
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Luxury Topics
Millionaires like Gates and Buffett realized that in order to be massively successful, you must concentrate your attention in one direction - on one goal or project.
Don't try to be a jack-of-all-trades
Warren Buffett is a man of extraordinary self-discipline.
"He ruled out paying attention to almost anything but business - art, literature, science, travel, architecture - so that he could focus on his passion."
- Alice Schroeder, a Warren Buffett biographer
And according to TIME, Gates's co-founder Paul Allen said he and Bill Gates differed in their ability to focus:
"Where I was curious to study everything in sight, Bill would focus on one task at a time with total discipline," said Allen. "You could see it when he programmed. He would sit with a marker clenched in his mouth, tapping his feet and rocking; impervious to distraction."
- Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder
The late Steve Jobs estate in Palo Alto, CA. Macworld
Similarly, throughout his career Steve Jobs spoke consistently about focus.
"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are."
- Steve Jobs, Apple CEO & cofounder
The secret to making millions
If you want to be successful at investing and life, you must learn to focus your efforts.
You and I both know you are a very intelligent human being. But when it comes to concentrating on one goal, do you have enough discipline?
Steve Jobs presenting the Apple iPhone. App Advice
Look at the world's largest companies. Each focused on building something amazing and different - something that stuck out from the crowd. They were focused on being the best at what they focused on.
Apple focused on having the best designed electronic products.
Google focused on having the best search results.
Chipotle focused on having the freshest, best quality fast food.
Apple, Google and Chipotle could have focused efforts in other directions. Apple could have tried to break into the search engine industry. Google could have tried to go after ecommerce like Amazon.com. Chipotle could have reduced the quality of its products to compete with Burger King.
However, each company remained focused on their original goal and that's why they succeeded.
Using focus to make more money
When you become an expert in a field, people who need your skills and advice are willing to pay you for your time.
Investing in yourself will lead you to cash. Wired
Do you have a hobby? An area of business you excel in? Whether it's scrapbooking, or social media, or fixing shelves around the house, or playing online games, there are opportunities for you to build your personal brand and find people who need your help and are willing to pay for it.
See More: How to Start a Small Business
Focus on this area of expertise and put aside everything else.
This may mean investing in someone to clean your house or help with bills in order for you to free up your own time.
Once you free up your time, you'll be able to research your area of expertise and start working on personal projects to put your skills to work.
Start with a small market. As investor Peter Thiel, worth $2.2 billion, said:
"Businesses must start with especially small markets. Facebook started with just Harvard students - Mark Zuckerberg's first product was designed to get all his classmates signed up, not to attract all people of Earth.
This is why successful network businesses rarely get started by MBA types: the initial markets are so small that they often don't even appear to be business opportunities at."
- Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future
Facebook started with just a few customers. NY Daily News
Even if you don't start your own business, your expertise will help you either:
1) excel and make more money in your current role, or
2) help you find another career and you'll earn more in the long term.
Become a good investor
According to Forbes, the average investor only achieved a 2.6% net annualized rate of return over 10 years.
A 2.6% rate of return is not enough to preserve your money through inflation and retirement.
Being an "average investor" is not going to cut it. While some financial advisors recommend a blend of equities and fixed-income mutual funds, going through a bad economic downturn could be devastating for your returns.
When it comes to investing, start ASAP so time is on your side. Paychex
Like the most rewarding things in life, investing takes time and focus.
Warren Buffet focuses his efforts on industries he knows. Why not do the same?
"Why not invest your assets in the companies you really like? As Mae West said, 'Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."
- Warren Buffett, American business magnate and billionaire investor
Average investors stay average because they lose focus and fall victim to these mistakes:
- They are tempted by hot "trends" and buy investments they know nothing about
- They trade too frequently
- They panic when the market drops
- They don't concentrate on their original goal (example: making rash short-term decisions for their long-term retirement funds)
- They start borrowing money from the wrong places, like their home equity
The secret is to maintain your initial investment goals and ignore everything else.
You can't know everything and as an individual investor, your time and knowledge is limited.
What can you do right now? Assess your income and investments and determine whether you have enough focus in each of them.
In life, discipline is your friend and the only way to make millions.
"That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple."
- Steve Jobs, CEO & cofounder of Apple
The way to millions is a journey, not a sprint. Put in focus and you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.