Baby Steps to Financial Riches Series Part 3 – Stocks vs Real-Estate vs Business

More than 2 years ago, I was a very busy IT consultant of a mutinational company.  I was stressed out for sure.  In my 9 years working as an IT professional, not a day would go by that I would not ask myself “is this all there is to life?”.  There were many times I questioned myself whether it’s really all worth the effort to endure all the long commute to work and back home everyday, the stress of enduring an unreasonable boss, the pressure of working in a fast-paced 24/7 environment, the sacrifice of not being able to spend more time with your loved ones, and the dying of my own soul wondering if there’s a hidden meaning to all these unbearable challenges.

When I couldn’t bear it any longer, that’s when I started to search for other options that might help me get my goals without having to endure the same thing that I’ve gone through the past 9 years of my life.  I tried venturing into real-estate, stocks investing, bonds, internet marketing, and more.  But the more I became aware of the many options available out there, the more I realized I keep on going back to the same stumbling block that I couldn’t seem to get over with.  Every opportunity I came across, at its core is solid business system.

Stocks and bonds are simply a way for companies or the government to borrow money from other people they call investors or stockholders in order to grow the company.  Income-producing real-estate is a business system at its core. The landlord is the CEO of that little company, and the tenants are its customers.  Internet marketing is just one piece of a BIG online business ecosystem where each corporation big and small are interacting everyday with the likes of Google, Amazon, Ebay, Apple and more.  Each company is selling its own product, whether it’s the infrastructure they are selling, or a physical product like a book, or a digital version (ebook), or what have you.  The only question now is where you are in that whole ecosystem, and how you operate your own business system.

I realized early on that if I really want to understand how this thing works, I need to become familiar with the one focal point where everything opens up for you — that is, how to build a successful business.

If you don’t know something, what would you do?  First thing I did?  Read.  Read.  and read some more until my mind was already aching with so many ideas…but after so many books, with nothing to show for it, I got depressed and frustrated with myself.  I got the classic case for “analysis paralysis”.

If you’ve been on this same situation before, I can’t blame you.  Especially if you are in a technical field like me who does a lot of analysis on a daily basis as part of your work.  To give you an idea how many books I’ve read over the years, here’s a picture of my mini-library at home. 🙂

When I got fed up of reading without any results to show for it, I got into the next level of learning — I attended seminars.  Lots and lots of seminars.  Some of them I attended live.  Some I couldn’t attend because of location, but I managed to grab a copy of the video recording of the seminars.   I even signed-up for a lot of online coaching classes.  And after so many of those, I still didn’t have anything to show for it.  I paid for those seminars, out of my own pocket. I was frustrated, of course, but I thought of them as investments in myself.  Someday, they will bring dividends, I told myself.

When you’re disgusted with your results, when you’re so frustrated you feel like any result is better than nothing, that’s when you free yourself up to learn.  In my case, I simply wanted to “experience” for myself what it feels like to be “investing” and “starting a business”.  I was willing to lose some of my money for that experience.  So I tried investing, in Retail Treasury Bonds at first.  Then into stocks.  Real-estate.  Internet businesses.  I lost some money in the process, but I feel I gained something more money can’t buy.  I gained confidence.  I gained experience.  I don’t claim to be successful in any of those.  Truth be told, I am still learning, and learning a lot as each day passes.  I’m sure I’ll make mistakes along the way.  Lots and lots of mistakes.  The thing is, I realized mistakes is part of success.  I am now even more excited to make mistakes, because then I know I am one step closer to my goals.

If you ask me what is better stocks, real-estate, or businesses, I will say there’s an advantage and disadvantage for each one.  From what I know, I feel investing in stocks is good especially if you have other assets like a business which can give you the cash flow to invest in stocks.  The same goes for real-estate.  The thing with real-estate is that you have tremendous leverage if you know what you’re doing.  But if you don’t you can also get into serious trouble.  Having a business is a great way to build cashflow for your other investments like real-estate, stocks and other businesses.

As for me, my strategy right now is to build my own business, while steadily investing little by little in my portfolio of stocks, bonds and real-estate.  At this point in my life, my time is currently focused on 80% business, 10% stocks and 10% real-estate. It will not work for everyone especially since we all have different dreams and goals, different skills, different stages in our lives.  If the thing you do works for you, and you feel you will be able to achieve your goals in a reasonable amount of time, then go for it.  Otherwise, maybe it’s time to look for other options.

In my next article, I will be sharing with you one of those options and my journey of building my own business.

P.S. Some of you have emailed me about my last article and asked how you can become like RJ and Jacq who were able to get married in one year without going abroad, and without asking a single penny from their parents.  I have another exciting news for you.  RJ and Jacq has just bought their very first Apple Macbook Pro yesterday!  I’m very proud of the results that they have achieved so far.  Here’s a picture of them together. 🙂

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