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You Don’t Want Money: Why Would You Want Something That Doesn’t Exist?

You say you want it. You probably dream about having more of it. But you don’t — not really.

Even if we’ve never met, I know for certain that you don’t want money. “Ah … no.” I hear you say. “Believe me — I want money. Lots of it. Enough money to take care of myself and my family for the rest of our lives. Enough money that I don’t have to worry about paying the bills. Enough money that I can go on vacation and really relax. Enough money that I can spoil myself occasionally. And enough that I don’t have to worry about losing my job or getting too sick to work. To have all these things, I need money.”

Exactly. You want your family to be safe and secure. You want to be free from worry. You want to enjoy life. Notice that nowhere in that list is “I want to have an entry in a database on a server at a big corporation that says I have a certain balance, or a stack of printed paper that I can trade for stuff.” You don’t want money — you want the things that money can do for you.

If you visit a nearby deli and exchange money for a sandwich, you don’t want the money as much as you want the sandwich. But some people want the money more than a meal from a restaurant — they would rather make a sandwich at home and take it to work if it saves them a few bucks. They will take the money they save on lunch and use it for something else that they value more. Money represents value, and all value lives in the brain. Your customers don’t want their money, they want to trade it for things that they value.

To make a trade possible, you must do two things: have something to offer, and communicate the value of that offering. If you don't create value in someone's mind, you'll never get them to give you money. This is true whether you're an employee, the CEO of a large company or a little girl with a lemonade stand. In order to get people to give you money you have to demonstrate your value.

Value is a complex intertwining of feeling and knowledge and habit and many other mental processes. To create a successful business — to create value that can be exchanged for money — blank page entrepreneurs must understand how to use communications to build value in the mind. There are thousands of ways to do this, and it's easier than it sounds.

Feelings exist. Products and services exist. Money does not. Money is only a placeholder for the value that exists in the minds of your customers, your employees and everyone else you do business with. It’s your offering — your unique combination of products, services and communications — that will enable you to create value that can be traded for money and, therefore, to become a successful blank page entrepreneur.

Don't focus on "I want money." Your customers don't care what you want — they care about what they want. If you want people to give you money, focus your attention on demonstrating the value that they will receive. The money will follow.


Entrepreneurs Don't "Make Money," They Create Value That Can Be Exchanged For Money

Successful entrepreneurs understand a critical thing: There’s no such thing as money.

It seems to go against the grain, doesn’t it? After all, you probably have bills in your wallet. There may be pennies riding around on the floorboards of your car. You use credit cards and debit cards and checks to buy anything you need. “This guy must have lost his mind!” you say. “How can he assert ‘There’s no such thing as money?’ ”

The existence of many types of money — the credit cards and coins and dollar bills — proves the point. All of these things work as money because, collectively, we say they do.

To make a purchase using a small piece of plastic embellished with embossed numbers and a magnetic strip, you present it to a cashier or swipe it through a reader then put it back in your wallet. If you make a purchase using cotton paper printed with complex designs or small round metal relief sculptures, you give these things away and never see them again. These processes are fundamentally different, yet both can be used to make a trade.

Why? What makes it possible to use this wide variety of objects and procedures? This entire system works because all of us agree that plastic cards, paper and metal can be used as stand-ins for something else, like the “X” in an algebraic equation. Dollar bills and credit cards are nothing more than placeholders — representations of value — that accurately describe the way we feel about the products and services we purchase. Money does not exist, but value is very real.

A Remarkable Evolution

The abstract thought manifested in a credit card is a remarkable leap forward in human evolution. Billions of people are engaged in a collective agreement that states “the coins, paper currency and credit cards that we carry around with us represent real value and can be exchanged for everything that is grown, manufactured or collected from the Earth.” It’s taken thousands of years for us to develop this all-pervasive agreement. Every aspect of modern life, from cell phones to delivery pizza, hinges on its existence; modern society would not be possible without this planet-wide contract.

This agreement was created by blank page entrepreneurs. When people began to trade with one another, the need for a standard currency was born. And now, thousands of years later, entrepreneurs still ask customers to trade one thing of value — money — for another. But a trade cannot happen until an entrepreneur convinces a customer of the value of his offering. To become a successful entrepreneur you must understand the nature of value and how to create value in the minds of customers. Until you do, you won’t earn any money.

This is a critical distinction that blank page entrepreneurs must understand. An entrepreneur doesn’t “make money.” An entrepreneur creates value that is exchanged for money. Once you understand the difference, it can radically change the way you perceive your role. And perception is, of course, the foundation of all we plan and all we execute.