Asset building is an activity that every self respecting freedom seeker should be engaged in, but few actually get round to thinking about it or learning the process.
Assets are the secret weapons of the super rich even though they tend not to build them from scratch, usually inheriting them from their ancestors. In many cases those ancestors stole the aforementioned assets from someone else or simply assumed ownership of things like land and natural resources that actually belonged to nobody and in the process disregarded the needs and wishes of others who lived on or used the land or resources in question…totally uncool. However, in copying the concept of asset building, we can copy the formula that defines an asset whilst avoiding all of the stealing and greed of our capitalist cousins.
An asset is simply something that generates income even though you retain ownership of it. In this way, the asset can actually grow in value over time and provide you with a regular and potentially infinite income stream. Due to this intrinsic value, the ratio of income to effort increases over time. In short, you do something once and receive income many times. A book, for example, is an example of such an asset, but with technology being as useful and as accessible as it is, you can get as creative as you want to in creating your own assets.
In the past, some of my favourite authors of practical, instructional or niche books have detailed how they struggled with achieving true freedom due to the pressure placed on them to get money in order to live. This has a much bigger impact than the simple reduction in writing time wasted trying to find and do menial work to earn a wage. The process of doing this can also have a negative effect on their mindset, potentially reducing access to inspiration and life energy. The trouble they had in the pre-digital age was that their assets (mainly books) were subject to a lot of upfront and ongoing costs for publishing, marketing and production and by necessity needed a whole entourage of people to support that. This meant that even hugely successful books didn’t quite become the long term assets they could have been for their authors. Spin off assets, such as instructional videos or training courses were also subject to all of the same limitations as the original asset…substantial and therefore limiting cost burdens.
Today, we are lucky that we can build assets much more easily, quickly and cheaply and then bolt on further related assets with the same amount of ease.
Of course, this comparison is subject to a series of algebraic problems. If you remember algebra from school (I don’t remember much of it so no emails please if I get this wrong) it was necessary to balance every equation.
Staying with the book example for a moment; you can write, edit, format, design, publish, promote and sell your book without ever leaving your kitchen table. This will of course depend on your skills, but most of this can be learned and/or the bits you can’t do can sub-contracted cheaply. In any case the costs of taking your book to market are greatly reduced. However, this is where the algebra comes in. This lowering of the barrier to entry to publishing has resulted in lots more people jumping that barrier and becoming self publishers. It has also resulted in a lot of work being published that is sub standard…and the activity that is going on to promote these books has created a whole lot of noise. Due to the bombardment of digital stuff we are all subjected to, we tend to switch off and that has led to the most valuable commodity today being attention. Yes, getting the attention of enough people to make your newly built asset a success will almost certainly be the most difficult part of your quest for a steady income to support your freedom lifestyle; and this is where the extra effort has to be done in order to balance the equation.
Many people are disappointed at the very start of their attempt to promote a money making asset they have spent many of the previous months creating. To launch an asset to deafening silence is truly soul destroying.
What can we do to avoid this?
Well, the answer is to build a tribe. This term was coined by Seth Godin and he has written extensively about it; but simply put, it means building a network of fans who, in addition to consuming your work, also promote it to their networks of contacts. This, if managed well, can cause your reach to grow exponentially and quickly.
Starting today, how can you get 10 people interested in your ideas? Make a big enough impression on 10 people to turn them into fans of what you do, so that they will talk about you and your work unsolicited. If you can do that and each of them talk to 10 others; as Seth recently pointed out, you only have to make that go through two more cycles of growth to reach 1million people. Powerful isn’t it.
Now, can you think of a handful of strategies you could use to start to build that Tribe?
I described my approach to one of my projects here.
Seth’s book “Tribes” is here.
Chris Guillebeau has created a monster of a tribe here.
Be part of the Restless Peasant tribe here.