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How To Become A Millionaire

Ok, now that I’ve got your attention, let me just say this. I’m not a millionaire, so I have no idea how to become one for sure. I do, however, have a theory on how to become a millionaire and I’m trying it out as we speak. Before I divulge this theory, let me just say that I in no way guarantee anything I am about to say. These are just the thoughts of a crazy software developer who was too young during the late 90s to make money to retire at age 21 and remains a little bit bitter. Feel free to try proving this theory yourself, but again I make no guarantees.

So, to the theory. I don’t think I am the first one to propose this theory, but I’m not going to bother to take the time to research who was. There have been lots of millionaires over the years, and I’m almost certain some of them used this theory. Here it is. Don’t blink or you might miss it.

1) Find a problem that is easily solved
2) Solve the problem.
3) Get people to pay for your solution

Easy, right? Let me break it down for you.

The first step is to find a problem that needs to be solved. This is not that easy to do since most easy problems were solved a long time ago. Especially in my world, TechLand, most problems are at least somewhat solved by free software and if they aren’t the solution was likely not easy and likely not cheap to implement and is now being sold at a premium by some lucky company who managed to solve the problem first. So outside of TechLand, you have the rest of the world. There are many many problems with the world. Most of thse problems are hard. That is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about easy problems that no one has noticed or bothered to solve yet. Talk to non-techies and see what they are frustrated about. Look around and see what these people are using computers for and how you could make their computer experience better. Or look around for something people are doing by hand which could be made easier with the use of technology. Keep in mind that since you are, presumably, a techie, the solution to your easy problem will likely involve computers in some way, so make sure the problem you pick is solvable with computers in the first place. The people whose lives you are revolutionizing with your solution should probably be somewhat comfortable with computers because they are less likely to pay for your solution if they have to also figure out how to use that damn-fangled computery bit machine in the corner.

If you think you’ve found a problem you want to solve you should probably do a little thinking about whether you’ll be able to sell your solution. Selling your solution is kind of important in becoming a millionaire so before you go forward, be fairly confident that you’ll be able to sell it. Also make sure no one has solved your problem yet, or if someone has tried to solve the problem, then make sure you are confident that your solution will be better.

Finding an easy problem to solve is not actually easy to do. It will take some time, but hopefully, like in my case, when you are presented with the problem, a light bulb will go off in your head and you’ll be able to say “Ahah…now _there_ is problem with an easy solution”.

Given step 1, the second step is actually really easy. By definition the problem you are solving is easy to solve so therefore solving it shouldn’t be a big deal. If you think the problem is too hard to solve, then you’ve picked the wrong problem. Go back to step 1 and try again.

Note that at the end of step 2, your costs should be fairly low, unless of course you spent some crazy amount of money on market research to find some easy problem that needed to be solved. Given that it is an easy problem to solve, your solution development costs should have been relatively low as well. If you’ve spent a lot of money up to this point, then you’ve not solved an easy problem, but hey, at least you solved it.

Finally, step 3 is perhaps the hardest and most magical feeling of all the steps, especially for a techie like myself. I’ve really not got much advice here, other than to get out there and promote your solution in whatever way you can. Somehow let people know that you’ve solved a problem. Then convince them they want to pay for it. A business partner comes in really handy for a techie at this point and I’m sure there are all sorts of marketing tricks and gimmicks you can pull to promote your solution. The upside is that even if you suck at this step, you don’t actually need to sell your solution that many times to at least break even. Remember, your solution was relatively cheap to develop (see steps 1 and 2), so unless you are giving your solution away for free (which actually might be a good promotional idea), you’ll be making money in no time. The downside is that in order to become a millionaire, you’ll have to be quite successful at this step.

So there’s my theory on how to become a millionaire. I’ve got no idea if it works. It sounds like it should, but I’m sure I’ve overlooked something. In a future post I’ll talk about the attempt my business partner and I are making at proving this theory.

[Ed. Note: I wrote this several weeks ago, and on re-reading it, I realize this all sounds like common sense and mostly belongs in the “easier said then done” category, so I apologize if you read this and your response was “Well, DUH!”]