Are entrepreneurs as confident today as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic?
We know that the majority of S and P 500 companies were founded in down markets. Yes, the most successful entrepreneurs indeed use difficult times to listen to their customers and market, innovating when necessary, and making their businesses more resilient than ever.
However, for many people, the current climate is different. Many, if not all, of the exits they were hoping for, are delayed or completely different. We could not have anticipated how consumers are changing. Employees are diverse and the basic forms of employment have changed.
Is it possible to be financially secure enough to retire, given all this? It is possible, from my perspective, but it may be through different means than you expected. We can create a roadmap for what we need now by thinking like Warren Buffett.
That’s it. But when we say this, know that we are defining a type and not necessarily extolling the person. Listen closely to the rules Buffet has defined through a variety of mediums (spoiler alert: the fourth rule was given to financial advisor Adiel Gorel, who created and hosted the PBS specials Remote Control Retirement Riches and Life 2.0, in the form of a personal note).
These rules have been consistent for decades but are even more important during our current political- and pandemic-related economic travails.
1. Pay your savings first
As Buffett has noted and demonstrated on multiple occasions, you should “pay yourself first” by putting a portion of your funds away first.
Too many entrepreneurs are too focused on their company and dream of the “big exit”. But it doesn’t work out that way. Some founders do this multiple times.
A friend and expert who had owned 29 companies before the pandemic made this funny: “You can always tell entrepreneurs in a room. They tell the best stories. They die broke almost invariably.”
Statistics show that the most financially secure people are those you would not expect to find. They are normal people who have practiced financial discipline. They did not wait to save or invest until they could afford it (which would have been never) or when we were ready to exit the company.
They calculated how much they would need to retire, with or without advisors. Then they learned how to save first (sometimes in a difficult-to-access CD or at another bank). They then covered their expenses.
They did not use the majority of their funds for high-risk or luxuries. They taught financial discipline early and consistently. One example: The young daughter of a friend is part-time and not because she wants to go to movies or wear brand-name clothes, but because she wants to start her retirement fund.
Similar to my childhood friend, we found out that a homeless entrepreneur was a teenager. As a high school senior and junior, he worked several part-time jobs while still living in his car. Later, he purchased a trailer.
Even though he was sometimes very hungry, he continued to work part-time jobs as a high school junior and senior while living in his car, then later buying a trailer.
He bought gold coins as a way to recall the principles that he learned from his great grandfather when he was a boy. He’s now in his mid-60s and has been retired for 14 years. While he owned, started, and exited several companies, he continued to invest in stocks, gold, and other assets.
2. Be careful about splurging on brands
You should choose a location and house that will allow you to sell it quickly or make it a part-time or permanent rental. This will give you additional income and tax benefits. You could also consider buying a modest home and renting out a luxury home for friends or family holidays.
An experienced advisor recommended that 20% of your income or investment revenues be allocated to “the three F’s”: fashion, food, and fun. Lauren Solomon, Lauren’s business partner, and professional image advisor reminds clients that even though you may be working remotely, it is not a reason to neglect “the business” of being yourself.
She says that you shouldn’t let your appearance detract from the quality of your work. You can create an attractive result even with casual clothes. She often says, “You can’t ask other people money when you look like you have never had any money.”
Here are some ways to think about luxury brands.
Consider the purchase of luxury brands as an investment. Is the style timeless and classic in terms of quality? Are you able to adapt it and wear it for many decades?
3. Take care when taking out loans
Buffett said many times, “If you purchase things that you don’t use, you will soon sell them.” Credit cards are a great way to waste your earnings and save money. You can operate almost entirely in cash if you follow Buffett’s example. Learn how to maximize your use of cards to maintain a high credit score and remain eligible for maximum credit whenever you need it.
4. Investing with borrowed money requires extra caution
For the record, Buffett warned not to borrow money to invest in securities any more times. A personal note from Buffett, which Buffett sent to Adiel Gorel, may be an exception to the prohibition on credit.
Gorel recalls Buffett’s comments in an interview with MSNBC in 2012. Gorel mentioned on-air Buffett’s often-quoted opinion regarding the wisdom of buying or refinancing homes using fixed-rate 30-year mortgages. These are a standard in the U.S. but not as readily available elsewhere.
Fixed-rate loans on single-family homes (instead of multi-tenant properties) have the advantages of allowing inflation to increase the amount of your loan and making it more affordable over time. The tenant’s rent also contributes to the monthly loan principal repayment.
Gorel praised Buffett for acknowledging single-family homes as an attractive investment. He said that he (and Berkshire), would buy many if given the opportunity. He realized that Buffett was there watching.
He began a correspondence offering his assistance to facilitate the mass purchase. Buffett replied with a note saying, in part: “To make it justifiable for Berkshire we’d have to invest approximately $10 billion
It is important to be clear that no mass Berkshire home purchase was ever made. However, a regular investor, even one or two, can have a significant advantage by owning a few investment properties on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This is especially true when current interest rates are less than 4%. This could be a smart way to use debt to help you reach your retirement goals.
Many additional rules apply to investing and saving. For now, however, we recommend that everyone we know take serious advice from the “Oracle of Omaha” and other classic experts. These principles can be of great benefit to all of us, now more than ever.