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Do You Want to Make Friends or Make Money?

Originally published: 04.01.20 by Keven Prather

As an entrepreneur, what do you care about most: being liked by others, or becoming financially successful?

Do you want to make friends or make money? 

Here’s what we know about self-made millionaires who built their wealth through business ventures: They are much more focused on making money in their dealings with others than they are on establishing social relationships and friendships in their professional dealings.

In stark contrast, business owners who are less successful—even those who say they want to become highly successful‐regularly act in ways that are socially rewarding but financially costly. They do things mainly to be liked, not to be wealthier.

Of course, it’s entirely possible to build wealth and friendships. But the fact remains that the millionaires among you, in work contexts, aim their arrows squarely at the money. For example:

  • Negotiating. Self-made millionaire business owners approach negotiations with a clear and passionate determination to win. This in no way means they are not looking for ways for the other side to come out well. If both parties walk away as winners, all the better. But that is not always a possibility, and these entrepreneurs understand and accept that. In contrast, most people want everyone to walk away from the negotiations happy, which all too often results in making bad deals.
  • Networking. Another area where the desire to be liked can easily interfere with becoming wealthier is networking. A large percentage of self-made millionaires can attribute a substantial portion of their success to their ability to connect with others and leverage those relationships. They concentrate on building relationships that have the capacity to open doors as well as supply resources and clients. There has to be some minimal chemistry between the parties, of course, but the people in self-made millionaires’ networks are the ones who can deliver results—not necessarily people they are looking to for long-term friendships.

The fact is, most business relationships are situational and will dissipate once the business connection is gone. And yet, many people want everyone they are dealing with to like them—an attitude that is frequently, if not habitually, antithetical to making money.

Think about it: Consider your own history. It’s probably pretty easy to identify more than a few situations where you were being needlessly nice to other people—staff, vendors—and it cost you monetarily.

Advice: Get comfortable with making enemies when you want to make money.

Sometimes your journey up the financial ladder goes beyond simply not making friends—it means making enemies along the way. This is often an outcome of significant success, so be ready for some new enemies if you pursue big business results intently.

Indeed, proportionately more people who are wealthy make enemies. As you accumulate more wealth, it’s very likely you’ll make more enemies than the average (less wealthy) person.

This makes sense when you think about it. As self-made millionaires create personal fortunes, they’re very likely to have more and more people approach them with demands, requests and proposals. The logic behind this is straightforward: The wealthy person has financial and professional resources these other people want to access and leverage.

As the demands, requests and various proposals multiply, the self-made millionaire is not going to have the bandwidth to deal with them all. (The triage process alone is sure to annoy or anger some of the people making requests.) The result: enemies. When self-made millionaires discount or disregard others’ requests, the rejected commonly see this as evidence of the entrepreneurs’ self-centeredness, callousness, arrogance, insensitivity, conceit and haughtiness.

Other factors also may result in people seeing those with wealth in a disparaging light, of course. But often the very process of personal wealth creation perpetuates and enhances their negative image.

So what do you do—especially if you’re not prepared to accept a lower level of success simply to be liked more?

Answer: Prepare to be vilified. It’s probably inescapable.

As you take actions that put you on track to make a lot of money, you’ll encounter hostility—sometimes even hatred—from a good number of people. As you succeed in achieving your financial goals, you’ll certainly make enemies. In fact, as you become more accomplished, it’s highly likely you’ll make a lot of enemies.

Keep in mind that you should be prepared to make enemies, and some of them may very well be close friends and professionals you’re currently working with. For example, as you conduct negotiations that pay off well, your time becomes an ever more precious asset. Simultaneously, your success acts as a magnet to people who want to pitch you an idea or a company or, better yet, show you a way you can become more successful by teaming up with them.

What tends to happen is that you end up pushing a lot of people away. These people will, in turn, attribute certain personal characteristics to you—and they’re not likely to be complimentary.

The upshot: If what other people—especially people you don’t have a strong relationship with—say about you matters to you, that will seriously curtail your success and your ability to become wealthy. Never let them determine your self-worth. Get used to being the villain fast and concentrate on achieving your professional goals.

Prepare to deal with fools—gladly!

Another inescapable aspect of entrepreneurship is dealing with fools. You’ll often deal with a plethora of fools who are not on your side—such as when you look across a negotiation table, for example.

Now, most business owners feel frustrated, anxious and mad at having to deal with fools. This tends to work against them and in favor of the fools.

But most self-made millionaires expect the business world to be populated by fools—and use that to their advantage. Fools can be wonderful for your professional and personal financial success, so long as you don’t try to change them and you learn to turn their foolish traits to your advantage. With the appropriate skills, intent and practice, you also can capitalize on the dysfunctional nature of fools to win at both negotiating and networking.

Get clear on your goals—and what it takes to make them happen

Keep in mind, it’s not intrinsically good or bad to focus on money over friendships (or vice versa). Ultimately, it comes down to your personal goals. Some people prefer being liked to being wealthier. For other people, the reverse is the case.

But remember: If your preference is to become seriously wealthy, make sure the pull of social acceptance—the desire to make friends—doesn’t get in the way of making those careful, calculated business decisions that can boost your bottom line. The wealthiest entrepreneurs generally don’t put limits on their potential financial success by dealing only with people they like or with whom they share key values. If you want to join the ranks of the wealthiest, you probably should follow their lead.

If you want to learn more financial tips on how to make money and more, click here. 

About Keven Prather

Keven Prather specializes in serving the complex needs of business owners through Financial Planning and Business Transition/Exit Planning. Using a Total Wealth Planning approach, Keven’s objective is to turn complex problems into actionable, understandable and manageable steps, by collaborating with business owners, their family, and strategic partners.” Keven can be reached at (216) 592-7314 or

Securities and investment advisory services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. TransitioNext AdvisorsTM is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC, or its affiliated companies. Supervisory Office: 2012 West 25th Street, Suite 900 Cleveland, OH 44113. 216.621.5680. This report is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Neither MML Investors Services nor any of its employees or agents are authorized to give legal or tax advice. Consult your own personal attorney legal or tax counsel for advice on specific legal and tax matters. CEG Worldwide, LLC. is not a subsidiary or affiliates of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies.

VFO Inner Circle Special Report By Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen Jr.

©Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC. All rights reserved.

This report is reprinted with permission from VFO Inner Circle.

Unless otherwise noted, the source for all data cited regarding financial advisors in this report is CEG Worldwide, LLC. The source for all data cited regarding business owners and other professionals is AES Nation, LLC.

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