July 29, 2015
The trades offer a path to wealth.
Maybe a career isn’t all you’re thinking about. Maybe you know successful people who own multiple homes, drive fancy cars and are able to afford a bunch of luxuries the average person can only dream about. Maybe your goal in life is to get rich like them.
When you get right down to it, there are only a handful of ways to get rich. One is to inherit wealth. Another is to get extremely lucky winning a lottery, beating the casino or guessing right with the stock market. If you are a world-class athlete or entertainer, that also could pave the way to affluence.
I’ll take an educated guess that most of you reading this don’t fall into any of those categories. For most people those methods are unattainable.
Fortunately, there is another way to get rich that doesn’t depend on an accident of birth, dumb luck or prodigious talent. For the majority of our population the most accessible way to get rich is to own your own business.
Owning a business doesn’t guarantee you’ll get rich. Many business owners go bankrupt and many others struggle to get by. But with the right opportunity and a willingness to work hard (and smart), many people from humble backgrounds have made themselves rich. Quite a few of them are skilled trade workers who went into business for themselves.
Mastering a skilled trade offers one of the best opportunities to start your own business. The capital requirements are relatively modest. You don’t need to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to get started. Most trade business owners start as a one-person operation, often working out of their home or garage to keep overhead down. They need a reliable vehicle to deliver them to jobsites and the tools of their trade, and that’s about it as far as upfront expenses go. Few businesses offer as much opportunity as the skilled trades do for their workers to go into business for themselves starting from scratch.
One crucial requisite for any business to succeed is a sizable market. Well, every home and building in this country needs plumbing, HVAC, electrical and other trade services. Sure, there are a lot of people competing for that business, but virtually any new independent trade contractor can obtain a base of work from family and friends through word-of-mouth. Supplement it with a little bit of low-cost marketing and the business is primed to grow.
This is not to say every owner of a plumbing, HVAC or electrical shop is wealthy. Far from it. Many trade business owners go bankrupt or struggle to get by. Some earn less money than the people they hire to work for them.
The reason behind the failures almost always boils down to a lack of business knowledge. Mastering the tools of a trade is enough to start a business. But to succeed in it, you need to learn the ins and outs of finance, accounting, marketing and, especially, people skills.
So a good way to start on the path to wealth is to learn a trade. But you’ll never get rich unless you go beyond that starting point and learn how to run a trade business. It will take a lot of hard work and study, but for most of you, that is the most accessible paved road toward getting rich.