Wealth & Investing for Founders
Wealth & Investing for Founders
Wealth & Investing for Founders

About the Book

When will you have the freedom to enjoy the lifestyle you want? When will you feel successful? Running a business can demand a lot from founders: not only time, but mental energy, and financial sacrifice. Founders can lose sight of their own needs. You might forget that the success of your company doesn't guarantee success for you.

You probably know your revenue, your cost of customer acquisition. Do you know how close you are to your personal goals? How do your business decisions impact those goals? Will your business success bring you personal success? Are they strongly linked? What happens if your business gets in trouble?

"I'll eat healthy when I'm sick." or "I'll exercise when I have heart trouble." If our friends said that, we'd gasp or laugh nervously. We'd wonder if our friends were oxygen-deprived. And yet, that's the financial attitude modeled by many business founders.

Do you

  • Pay yourself just enough to survive?
  • Hope to get rich from a big event in the distant future?
  • Have trouble with budgeting or setting financial goals?
  • Have most of your net worth tied up in your business?
  • Worry that you don't know your net worth, or a good benchmark for your net worth?
  • Take on personal debt to grow your business?
  • Fear not being able to retire?
  • Have a near-zero or negative net worth?
  • Worry what would happen if you were injured or too sick to run your business?
  • Feel anxious about emergency expenses?
  • Get into arguments over budgets and savings goals?

Like encyclopedia salespeople, pastry chefs, software developers, and every other occupation, many founders live paycheck to paycheck. Unlike non-entrepreneurs, they envision themselves on the path to riches. By scraping by financially, they imagine an investment in what they hope will be a successful venture. They see Facebook, Fog Creek, or Atlassian as the guideposts at the end of their entrepreneurial path. If only they can remain on the path they expect a large payout.

These hopeful founders plow the company’s revenue right back into the company. Meanwhile they give themselves a below-market salary to live on. Outside their own company, these founders invest and save very little. They believe that their business will give them a higher rate of return than the market, just like Facebook did for Mark Zuckerberg. Sometimes they’re correct. Often they’re not.

Founders forget that time is a crucial component of wealth. By delaying real financial action for a remote future event, the grow further behind the wealth curve. The longer they delay, the more difficult catchup becomes.

With Wealth and Investing for Founders, you will learn what the wealth formula is, and how to apply it to your situation. Among the topics covered are:

  • How investing is different for founders
  • How to quickly get started saving and investing
  • Understanding the different kinds of common investments
  • Calculating your net worth
  • Understanding why equity in your own company is never a sure bet
  • Deciding how much to pay yourself
  • The value of liquidity
  • Sustainable investing
  • The role of fear in investing
  • How I personally invest my own money (which you probably shouldn't copy)
  • Taxes (for the US only, sorry)
  • Retirement accounts (again, for the US only)
  • How to pick wealth advisors (and the first one isn't necessarily a financial advisor)
  • Dangerous investments
  • Investment vocabulary

About the Author

John M. P. Knox
John M. P. Knox

Howdy, I'm John! I started a personal finance group for HomeAway employees, but nominally they pay me to lead development of the partner iOS app at HomeAway.

The notion of wealth fascinates me. I blame Duck Tales and the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I don't aspire to dive into a giant safe full of gold coins, or to own any gold-plated plumbing fixtures. That's not why those TV shows fascinated me. Those shows fascinated me because they were about people who do ridiculous things. I may not want a crazy mansion with fountains in my foyer, but I'd love the freedom it implies.

My personal goal is to have freedom, so I can spend my time as I like. I also enjoy helping other folks get through the complexity of personal finance, into the taking action phase. There are plenty of pitfalls to avoid, but the actual mechanics of saving and investing are pretty easy.

I've experienced several kinds of startup failures while managing to keep my finances doing well. First, I founded a part-time publishing business with a friend. We made information products that didn't sell before that was really popular. Fail.

Later, I joined a medical startup. That one was funded by the founder's previous successes, and later destroyed by the founder's ego. I took a giant pay cut to join this rollercoaster. I learned a lot of good lessons watching a successful product get eclipsed by poor business decisions.

I used what I learned at the medical startup to consult for third startup company, this one with investors and a fancy office. Here I learned how to run my own business (as a consultant), while watching my client struggle with marketing, and eventually pivoting to an entirely different market.

Finally, I left the consulting client to work for a famous Unicorn. As you can imagine, I experienced and saw a lot of interesting behavior. I learned how to manage my own personal finances in a variety of environments, and I observed a lot of interesting behaviors related to personal finance in founders and other members of these startup companies.

When I'm not obsessing over software and personal finance, I enjoy photography and windsurfing.

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