The curious case of the broke “billionaire”

It’s one of the things I never understood with business people.

My brother is a good example. A few years back he got into insurance. And, being the unsolicited advice giver I am, I gave him simple one:

“All that matters right now is getting clients.”

I know… epic! But, it’s funny how many people “know” that, but don’t “do” it. And, he was no different. Even though, he “knew” getting clients was most important, he proceeded to start renting an office (that he didn’t need). Bought him a fancy desk for that office.

Had a sweet dual screen monitor setup.

A brand new computer.

Got some fancy business cards.

His new office “needed” a nice big sign that he paid several thousand for. He put up a big billboard on the road by his office (that netted exactly zero new clients). Bought a bunch of expensive new clothes for the swanky meetings he was now going to.

Man, did he “look” the part.

He rolled around town like he was a billionaire.

If you didn’t know better, you might believe it.

But, he was broke.

I remember I used to go with him to some of the meetup groups. He’d be wearing a thousand-dollar outfit and I’d be in stuff I picked up at Walmart for 30 bucks. He had fancy business cards he’d hand out to everybody… I didn’t have any.

People would ask me where my office was.

“I work from home.”

He was out of business in just over a year. I’ve now hit 11 years working solely for myself. I have no debt and am about to buy a 2nd home. You can do the math on which approach works.

But, I find far too many business people (freelancers included) get caught up in the glamour of running a business. They’re more in love with the idea of being a business owner than they are actually running said business. Often, they abhor sales — which is a non-starter.

Even worse, they buy all this junk to “look the part”…

That ends up creating a bigger mountain for them to climb.

More debt, more responsibility, more overhead.

Things that don’t move the needle.

When, at the end of the day, the #1 thing that matters and you need to figure out is how to get clients. In particular, developing systems for bringing those clients in on a consistent basis. Yeah, it’s a dead simple concept, but it’s wild how few people actually do it.

Anyway, do with that what you will.

I imagine most of you will say, “Ugh, I already know that” or find some way to rationalize the unnecessary spending you’re doing. But frugal is freedom in my experience.

That said, if you’re the serious type who’d like an 11-year vet to do an in-depth “x-ray” of your business, that’s what Lesson #9 in my “Why Entrepreneurs Fail” course is. It’s called the “Class Project”, but what it really is… are the tough questions you need to be asking about your business.

If you’re not meeting your goals in your freelance business…

I almost guarantee one (or more) of these questions is why.

And facing it head-on can be a catalyst for dramatic growth.

Anyway, I currently have the course discounted. You can grab a copy before the price goes up here:



P.S. If you’re a patron of mine, you already have access here: The course is also up on Skillshare if you prefer to take it there. Here’s the link:

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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