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Why Systems, Not Ideas, Make You Rich

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Taking good ideas and making them great as the path to success

When I am asked what my first successful investment was, I simply reply, "My comic book business."

As a young man, I worked in my rich dad's convenience store. I didn't like the work, but I did get free comic books out of it, so that was a plus. Rich dad's son, Mike, also worked with me. We noticed that when the comic book distributor came with a new batch of comics, the store manager would cut the covers in half and give them to the distributor for credit.

Mike and I got the bright idea to ask if we could have the old comics. Because we worked at the store, he said yes-as long as we didn't sell them.

Keeping true to our word, Mike and I started a comic book library in his basement. We charged other kids $0.10 a day to come read as many comic books as they wanted.

Eventually, we were making $9.40 a week, which was a lot more than the $0.30 we were making at the store.

In other words, I took comic books that were going to be thrown away and created an asset around them. Starbucks did the same thing with a cup of coffee.

The power of a better idea

The point?

Ideas don't have to be new and unique in order to make you a lot of money. They just have to be better.

Now, there is a fine line between making an idea better and simply stealing an idea. There are many individuals who spend their lives stealing other people's ideas rather than creating their own. The price they pay is at the least the respect others lose in them, and at times huge lawsuits.

The fine line between copying and stealing

As my rich dad often said, "There is a fine line between copying and stealing." Many of the most financially successful people are not necessarily people who have created ideas. Rather, they copied ideas and make them better by applying good business systems to them to make millions.

Fashion designers watch young kids to see what new fashions they are wearing, and then they simply mass-produce those fashions.

Bill Gates didn't invent the operating system that made him the richest man in the world. He simply bought the system from computer programmers who did invent it and then licensed their product to IBM. The rest is history.

Amazon.com took Sam Walton's idea for Walmart and put it on the Internet. Jeff Bezos became rich much more quickly than Sam Walton did.

What's your better idea?

In other words, who says you need to have creative ideas to be rich? The only creativity you need is to take good ideas, fit them into solid and tested business systems and processes, and make them into great businesses.

This week, take some time to look around. What ideas are out there that you can improve on? The next big idea for your business might be right there under your nose.

Original publish date: February 15, 2016

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