We intend here to look into some of the principles and philosophies that have ruled the process of wealth creation through the ages. Like author Hauwa Audu has pointed out, these points are referred to as principles because they would work for any one at any time if correctly applied in spite of birth circumstances, connections or creed, and there are a dozen of them. Now, let’s take them one at a time.
1. We are God’s stewards.
The realisation that God owns all wealth and that we are no more than stewards or channels through which wealth is supposed to flow will constantly remind us that there lies a purpose behind our wealth possession; a reason God chose to give us the wealth. Paramount here is the realisation that it was His decision to give us the wealth and that only He can give wealth without sorrow. This realisation would deter us from acquiring wealth at all cost and should also guide us in the utilisation of the wealth once we acquire it.
2. Labour creates wealth
My people, the Yoruba, have a proverb that “work is the antidote to poverty.” Oh, yes and much more than that, smart and hard work will create enduring wealth; it is the only combination that can. Inheriting millions or acquiring money through illicit means will not ensure enduring wealth. Want to create enduring wealth? Then go the way of the ant, which works hard and gathers even in times of plenty to prepare for lean times.
3. Exchange and value-creation principle
Money has been rightly defined as a means of exchange. So that is it; create something others would want from you and what they give to you in exchange is money. Add value to other people by helping them meet their needs and they would gladly part with their money in exchange.
4. Savings and delayed gratification
After work, the next principle, on which all enduring wealth is based, is savings and delayed gratification. No man became truly rich without passing through the path of savings by delaying gratification from the present to the future. We do not have to get everything we want now, let us give some thought to postponing some of our desires for the sake of the future. This is a veritable principle of wealth creation. We shall look at this in greater detail later.
5. Interest compounding
This is the principle that balloons all savings and investments and that is responsible for making all wealthy investors. In fact, it has been described as the eighth wonder of the world and man’s greatest invention by the great physicist, Albert Einstein. The principle simply refers to the process in which both the principal investment and the interest earned on the principal yield interest, as opposed to the simple interest process in which only the principal invested yields interest. It has been likened to a man having two goats, which produce four goats and the four goats produce another eight goats and so on. Before the man knows what is happening, his compound would be filled with goats! All wise investors have taken advantage of this principle over time.
6. Integrity and uprightness
Integrity has been described as the process of aligning our thoughts, words and deeds; making your words your bond and doing nothing to cheat the other party of his rightful portion. Without this, man degenerates to animal level and becomes unpredictable and untrustworthy in business, at home and in the community. Lasting wealth creation is totally impossible without integrity.
7. Preparing for, creating and exploiting opportunities
Some people have erroneously tagged the proceeds of this principle ‘luck’. According to George Classon and Stephen Spiegel, what people call luck is no more than preparation meeting opportunity. So when next you are tempted to call that wealthy man lucky, make haste to first learn from his habit of making adequate preparation and going in search of opportunities even where none seems to exist.
8. Prudence/frugality (versus extravagance and wastage)
Prudence refers to wisdom in financial matters while frugality simply means practising economy is spending. Both principles point in the same direction of being wise in matters of finances, especially in disbursing money. The principal thing here is to ensure that you get value for every naira you spend, as opposed to wasting money, and to block all leaks in your finances. Remember that the smallest leaks can sink the biggest ships!
9. Moderation (versus gluttony and drunkenness)
Even the scriptures preach moderation in all things and you can certainly not be a financial success if you make gluttonous eating and drunkenness your lot. I know of some individuals, especially men, who cannot do without visiting pepper soup and drinking joints on a daily basis. If you sum the money they spend on frivolities at these joints and calculate what these are capable of yielding if invested with the aid of interest compounding, you would nearly weep for such people, and they constitute a large portion of the people that complain of being poor!
10. Tolerable financial responsibility
This principle teaches that while you should be charitable and a giver, you ought to bear only the financial responsibilities you will be able to carry without doing harm to your personal welfare or that of your immediate family. I see no sense, for instance, in a man accommodating and feeding so many people to the detriment of the basic needs of his immediate family members, all in the spirit of a being a good giver. Such giving, in my view, is misplaced, and has no blessing attached to it. You also find some men maintaining many wives and/or concubines in the gratification of fleshly pleasure, when they do not really possess the financial capacity to do this. The load then often becomes unbearable for them and many members of their family often have to do without on several occasions. This is nothing shortness of indiscipline and stupidity of highest proportions.
11. Wealth as a necessity and not an evil
Many people’s mindsets have been warped by years of deprivation such that they now see wealth as a corrupting factor and they often quote the scriptures upside down by saying money is the root of all evil. Money is not the root of any evil; it is rather the love of money of the willingness to do just anything to acquire money that is the root of evil. Money, in itself, is neither good nor bad. Money becomes either good or bad in the hands of its owner/holder; it is what we do with money that can be said to be either good or bad. Money itself is neutral and impersonal. As a matter of fact, and as most people would agree, money become a necessity, which when put to good use, helps to solve many of life’s problems and soothe many a hurt, by its ability to command purchasing power. So, you should neither see money as evil nor talk evil of rich people. There is nothing inherently bad about the rich and you should actually endeavour to be in their class!
12. Patience, persistence and perseverance
This is the principle that wraps them all up. Whatever you do, you must learn the virtues of patience, persistence and perseverance. This is what my mentor-on-paper, Dr. Sidney Newton Bremer, refers to as bulldog tenacity or ‘stick-to-it-tiveness’. There indeed is gold where you stand and as long as you dig deep and straight enough, you are bound to hit it someday. And it won’t be as long as you fear!