Book Review of Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco
This book is one of the best books on Entrepreneurship in which the author lays out five commandments to be on the Millionaire Fastlane. According to the author, until and unless the business complies with the five commandments, they are not destined to be successful. These commandments are:
Commandment of Need, Entry, Control, Scale and Time (NECST).
Commandment of Need:
Millionaires affect lives of millions of people by adding some values to their lives and hence are millionaires. If the marketplace does not care about your product or service then it is not going to add value to the marketplace and it is a failed venture before it takes off. So, every business should first figure out if there is a need for the service or product your business is going to deliver or not.
So, we have seen test products being sold for free to test the water. All they are doing is trying to figure out if there is any demand or not.
People often start business with wrong reasons. They are good at something and very skilled and open a business about it. But if the marketplace does not care about it, it's going to be a failure because marketplace is a selfish place. It does not care what you want, what you have, how good you are. All it cares about it is what is it for them. If it adds some value to their lives then they will buy it otherwise not. So, it's a big eye opener for me and could be for so many budding entrepreneurs.
Commandment of Entry:
This is the second commandment to successful business. If the barrier to entry is very easy it means millions will be doing the same thing and you will not have the ability to scale your business but rather will have to decrease the price and compete those millions. Usually war of price harms all the parties. For example if creating a website and writing a blog and generate income is your business then there is not enough barrier to entry unless you try to add something extra value to the marketplace which not anyone else has added yet. An example which the author gives few times is when he thought about starting Limo business. He found it failed both the first and second commandments. There was no need for one more limo business and barrier was very low to enter into this business.
Commandment of Control:
If you have no control over your business and you have given entire authority to another party, you are doomed to failure.
Many entrepreneurs start a company and then hire a CEO or CFO to completely take control of operation or finance. They know nothing about what is going on and that is the recipe to failure. Especially when entrepreneurs do not have any basic financial knowledge like what is loan mortgage, how to calculate simple interest but hire an expert to help them make decisions. Since they themselves cannot take a second look at the decisions made by their advisers, chances are that they might screw up and entrepreneur will have to bear the loss.
One of the examples given in the book about the benefit of controlling the business is given as the following. If you are a doctor working at a private-care facility it's natural to think that you are on the fastlane because your magnitude (price / unit) is large and that will increase the net profit and hence wealth. But, the control of the private care facility is not held by the doctors but by the owner. So, it's him who is on the fastlane not the doctor who depends on his intrinsic value to increase the wealth.
Commandment of Scale:
The author gives an example of a burger stall outside a supermarket. No matter how much the owner tries, he cannot scale his business and reach out to customers outside of the supermarket. So, this business violates the commandment of scale. But an e-store that sells some product in the internet has unlimited number of customers and hence has the capacity to scale his business to unlimited level. However, if the entrepreneur can create franchise of any burger store then he has the ability to scale and will be on the fastlane.
The author gives an example of a quote by the billionaire Mark Cuban who said it only one business to be successful. So, it's important that we undertake projects which can be scaled up. In baseball terms, take swing for home runs not singles. If you do decide to play singles, you have to replicate the effort many more times.
The Fastlane wealth equation is:
Wealth = Net Profit + Asset Value
Net Profit = Units sold * Unit Profit
The leverage is created by the units sold. If you are selling burgers on the supermarket lot, you are limiting the leverage and hence you are on the speed limit of 15 mph road. Also, you cannot increase the price of the burger so the unit profit cannot be controlled as well.
So, either you have to be able to reach millions of people to increase the Units Sold quantity or sell at very high price to extra wealthy clients to increase the unit profit values.
Commandment of time:
Time is the scarcest resource we have. Most people spend money frugally and time freely. That according to the author is exactly the wrong way to the road to wealth. Time is limited and money is abundant. Only difference between successful and unsuccessful people is the way they spend their time. The former value each moment of their life and spend it to increase their self-worth. The latter waste it on fulfilling their immediate desires like watching TV series, indulging in games etc. for long period of time etc.
As per the author, fastlane is not an easy path but sure it should be a fast way to earn wealth.
As a fastlaner, our goal should be to automate the travel. If you have a business which requires you to dedicate each moment of your life all the time and always have to trade time for money, it's a job masked as a business. It's a money tree that never grows.
It's normal to work more than 80 hours per week in the starting phase of a business but it's not normal to work like that for the rest of the life which is a normal for most of the people working normal life. One of the famous quotes from the book which is often used outside as well is about how most of the people define as normal. Normal is to wake up at 6 am, fight traffic, work 8 hours or slave 8 hours Monday to Friday, save 10% and repeat for 50 years. Normal is to believe that stock market will make us rich and fastest car and bigger house will make us happy. The definition of normal is corrupted by the society and we are conditioned to believe that. In short, the author believes, normal is modern day slavery and that's why only have the courage and the intelligence to come out of normalcy and drive on a millionaire's fastlane.