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Building Your Business Beyond An Addiction to Money

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Warriors Heart grew into the number-one drug and alcohol treatment center for veterans due to my own addiction to alcohol. Getting past my addiction led to my own success, but I see other entrepreneurs with addictions of their own – to money or other artificial successes.

While we all need to be driven to succeed, I have found a deep motivation beyond the desire to make money. Let me explain why.

Social entrepreneurs are meant to build businesses with a purpose and address a social problem. I have been in the behavioral health field for almost 19 years. My wife Lisa and I started by opening drug and alcohol treatment centers, then specialized in treating veterans and front-life warriors. We also became Rich Dad Advisors for social entrepreneurs after writing The Social Capitalist.

Twenty years ago, I used to run nightclubs in Las Vegas. My wife was a police officer, so the joke was I would get them drunk and she would book them in jail. It was the revolving door.

In 2001, my wife gave me an ultimatum: Either you go to rehab tonight or I am divorcing you. That was the lifeline I needed. My life was out of control because I had a lot of “fake happiness.”

I drank to feel happy. I spent money to feel happy. I had a smile, but behind closed doors, I was not happy.

Several things created this artificial happiness in my life. After rehab, I decided that I can no longer work in nightclubs. I did not want to be a part of a problem. I wanted to be a part of a solution -- to help others get sober.

We opened our first treatment center in 2002 and built it to six locations before selling it to a private equity company. We took a little time off and then that is when we refocused and built Warriors Heart.

Since 2015, we have served more than 1,000 warriors through our program --detox, inpatient 42-day treatment, outpatient services and long-term sober living. For me, it is a very purpose-driven life that is more rewarding than fake happiness.

As an entrepreneur, you may also be looking for more. You had some early success, maybe failed a couple of times and are hitting a few challenges right now.

Because I am in the behavioral health field, we ask you to look at what is in between your ears. What are you addicted to? That may sound extreme but all of us are addicted to something. A lot of entrepreneurs can be addicted to money.

If I make that sale – boom -- I get a high. I get that endorphin or dopamine rush in my body if I am successful in closing a client or opening a new business.

What makes your purpose bigger than money? Money will come and go. If the business was built just to make money, you are setting yourself up for failure.

As a social entrepreneur, I recommend looking at building a business that creates fulfillment in your life. Because money is never enough.

You get bigger toys and bigger houses. As you spend more money, you just need more and more.

It is like a drug addict whose tolerance goes up and up. One shot used to get me wasted when I was a kid. When I was full grown, it took me half a bottle.

My recommendation is to build a business that has a higher calling than money -- one that fulfills your spirit.

Personal development is so important. If I do not work on myself, but my business takes off, then I am left with a sense of unfulfillment and the business is my drug. When business drops down, I have this lower sense of self worth and take it personally.

But if we elevate ourselves personally and professionally, when businesses go up and down, we feel more in control.

Do not get me wrong. When you first started out, money was important because you are starving. You are living on breadcrumbs. I know since I was eating ramen every day. I could get an entrepreneurial career going, but I could barely make ends meet.

Later, you learn not to focus on the money. Focus on the purpose, the mission and your values. Money is the by-product or ripple effect that will come in as a result of you doing these other things.

When Lisa and I started out, our business was all about the client, which is great as small business owners. As we grew, we had about 100 staff members. Our focus had to change to taking care of our staff.

We love our staff. We train for our staff. We take care of them. They will take care of our clients as the business grows.

You must have that awareness when you shift between loving your clients to developing leaders within your company that will take care of your clients.

When you are spending more time with your team than the actual client, that is when you know you have a business rather than a job.

We are really proud of how many people we have helped live their lives free of their addictions. You can find out more about what we do for our clients at Warriors Heart.

Original publish date: July 01, 2020

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