Dateline: Belgrade, Serbia
Today, I’m going to share with you what – in my opinion as a lifetime entrepreneur – may just be the best business book I’ve ever read.
And no, it’s not my own book Nomad Capitalist.
However, if you apply the tactics in my favorite business book, you’ll have a lot more money to do the things I talk about in my book, on our YouTube channel, and here on the Nomad Capitalist blog.
The book is called EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey. If you’re in the United States, you may know him as the host of a radio show where he talks about personal finance and getting out of debt.
I have known about Dave Ramsey for a long time. I used to work in the broadcasting industry focusing on talk radio and Dave Ramsey was on many small radio stations at the time. Shame on my 19-year-old self for smirking at Dave Ramsey for his small station strategy. He has built up his radio show over the years to become a tremendous success all throughout the US.
I was lucky enough to have the personal finance principles that Ramsey talks about taught to me as a kid. But EntreLeadership isn’t just about his typical finance topics. It’s a bit different.
What I really like about Dave Ramsey’s book is that, while it certainly does have a bit of an American perspective, it is a great blending of entrepreneurship and leadership that can be applied anywhere.
In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the great advice Ramsey gives in his book EntreLeadership and some of the ways it can be applied to the Nomad Capitalist lifestyle.
STARTING OUT AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
I’ve been a lifelong entrepreneur. As we talked about just the other day, I started my first business from nothing. I left university early. I didn’t have any connections. I got zero loans. I raised no money in funding, and got no money in gifts from my family.
All I had was a phone.
I picked that up and started making calls and sales and grew my own business. Since then, I’ve gone on to run a number of other businesses.
I’m more of a classic old-school entrepreneur. I had to roll my sleeves up, get out there, and do it. I didn’t know until I started listening to Ramsey’s show over a year ago that he has gone on to use his radio show to build a company that makes a couple hundred million dollars in revenue and has near 1,000 employees. It’s a pretty serious business.
We recently got up to two dozen people here at Nomad Capitalist with our global hiring strategy, so a thousand people sounds insane to me. It’s a great achievement.
So, how do you get from 24 to 1,000? I started to think it wasn’t just about having traditional entrepreneur strategies.
Hard work will get you across the finish line. If you outwork everybody, you will be better than almost everybody. But how do you get to that next level?
It really comes down to what he says in the book: it’s all about leadership.
BECOMING A GREAT LEADER
Dave Ramsey’s leadership perspective is very interesting to people like myself who have been entrepreneurs their entire lives. Most of us have not really held regular jobs in the corporate or institutional world and haven’t worked in government or at a bank. We do what we do, in part, because we push away from the bureaucracy of that other world of endless meetings and form-filling where people can say it’s not their responsibility.
If you’re an entrepreneur, everything is your responsibility. You don’t have time to point the finger at Susie from accounting or John down the hall. It’s on you.
But in EntreLeadership, Ramsey says that you do want to take some of the best points of that corporate-style leadership and implement them in your business.
When I started Nomad Capitalist – which has some libertarian and entrepreneurial undertones – we had the most basic contracts you could ever possibly imagine. Most of the time, it went pretty well. Occasionally, we’d get into trouble with that and someone would cause a problem.
Over the years of growing this business, I started to realize that you need some of the best elements of corporate and institutional thinking in terms of having good contracts, policies and procedures, handbooks, and guidelines.
As we’ve grown from two or three of us to a couple dozen of us, I’ve seen just how important that is.
The overriding principle in EntreLeadership that I really liked is that he talks about the Golden Rule. Whether you’re dealing with vendors or customers, you want to do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.
There’s definitely an ethical tone in the book. Dave Ramesy is an Evangelical Christian and this book has a tone of morality in it, though I did not find it overbearing. I happen to think that capitalism works best when people are ethical. If everyone was out screwing each other over, it wouldn’t work.
One of the earliest leadership principles discussed in the book is the power of making decisions. This applies to the stuff we talk about here at Nomad Capitalist as well – if you want to move overseas to dramatically reduce your taxes, set up a foreign company, or get a second passport, you have to make decisions even when you don’t have all the information.
You have to make decisions in spite of fear.
I have made a habit of reading or listening to audiobooks over the years. Most books are somewhere between six to eight hours long and many make a few good points, but never enough. EntreLeadership, on the other hand, makes numerous good points and has a lot of anecdotes that, as an entrepreneur, all spoke to me.
Have you ever listened or read something and felt like “That’s me!”
That’s why I liked the EntreLeadership. I kept hearing these stories that I could relate to because I had been through similar situations. I was able to see myself and my own mistakes in the stories he told.
I’m a hard-charging guy. I go out and just do stuff and figure it out later. In Ramsey’s book, he talks about making these types of decisions. He also talks about setting fake deadlines for yourself. You could use this technique if you’re wanting to go offshore or get a second passport and feel like you have all the time in the world. If you want to be successful, have a fake deadline.
HIRING AND FIRING: BUILDING A GREAT TEAM
Much of EntreLeadership is based on how to not be a weak leader. One of the best parts of the book discusses how you become a leader by building your company and team. There are a bunch of sections about what tends to be the hardest thing for any entrepreneur to do which is hiring and keeping good team members and culling the herd when necessary.
This book has a lot of great actionable advice. One of his strategies is to incentivize people as much as possible. This is where it gets a little bit American. For myself, we have a team that’s largely in Asia and Eastern Europe. While I do think that human beings are human beings, people are incentivized a little bit differently depending on where they’re from. You have to take their local culture into account.
If you’re like me and want to hire people from other places, there are some countries where money is not what they want. They want pride or more free time, it depends on their culture. Obviously, in the United States, a lot of people are looking to get ahead. It’s a great thing about the United States, but it’s not how it works everywhere.
If you’re hiring in some of these other countries, you’re probably paying a lot less than you would in the United States and still find some very good people.
Ramsey has a whole section in the book on how to hire, keep, and fire people. I like that it discusses how to motivate, keep, and promote great team members. He talks about putting people on a commission and profit-sharing with the entire team so that everyone feels like they get a piece of the pie, not just the sales team which traditionally gets a commission. Ramsey says he would put his receptionist on straight commission if he could.
You want everyone on your team to be motivated and you want them to be rewarded.
Ramsey also talks about things you should get rid of people for. His number one thing is if someone is gossipy. If someone is a gossiper, they have to go. You also don’t want to keep around people who are disagreeable.
He really talks about a great old-school business philosophy where if people aren’t with you, if they aren’t acting like they’re on your team, they’re basically stealing from you. You have to get rid of them.
I can’t justify trying to explain how to do that. Ramsey has a lot more experience than I do. But for the average entrepreneur, this is probably the thing we know the least about unless you came from an HR background or worked in a big organization.
One of the hardest things for me getting into business was realizing that most people don’t think the way that I think. Most people don’t want to put in all these hours, nor should they if they are the employee. Most people don’t have the same motivations. The same things don’t cross their minds.
But if you’re an entrepreneur living in an entrepreneurial world, you may tend to think that when you start hiring people that they’ll have the same understanding that you do. And many times, that’s not going to be the case.
There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s a reality. There are some great sections in Ramsey’s book about it.
Ramsey is very proud of being rated the best place to work for many years in a row in Nashville, Tennessee where he’s located. He talks about having pride in keeping good people and also setting clear boundaries. That’s a term I really got into while reading his book and listening to the show.
What are the boundaries with your team members? What are the boundaries with your customers? You want to serve and lift people up but you can’t let people just take advantage of you. That’s a great approach it talks about in the book.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SALESMANSHIP
In EntreLeadership, Ramsey also talks about the importance of salesmanship and how to go about building up your company through sales. I’ve talked about this a bit in recent years as the entrepreneur trend has gotten people to think that they’re entrepreneurs and they’re in business, but they still hate the idea of selling. Selling is almost vulgar to them.
Like me, Ramsey is a guy who went around mowing lawns as a kid and was always able to sell stuff to get by. He talks about how, if you’re not a naturally great salesman, you can still apply principles of salesmanship in your business to continue to build your revenue.
He makes a great point: if you’re afraid of selling, your business is not going to grow. You’re not going to be able to provide your service to more people who need to hear about it. You’re not going to have the resources to reinvest in marketing and get the word out.
You’re not going to be able to help more people join your team and help change their lives as they get to be a part of something that gives them purpose. He talks about giving people purpose and having a clear vision and message.
Salesmanship was a really important part of EntreLeadership. He does it in a way that’s very tasteful and ethical. It’s a great section to read over.
LEARN FROM EXPERIENCED ENTREPRENEURS
My favorite thing about EntreLeadership was the vibe. If you open up to the front page and look at the praise for the book, there are reviews from religious figures, US political figures, and people who started big businesses and are actually making an impact. That was the vibe of the book.
It’s the same vibe I get when I listen to Dave Ramsey’s show. You want to learn from people who’ve actually been practicing this for a long time. It’s the same thing I tell the people we work with here at Nomad Capitalist. I’ve been out there for 13 years now, traveling the world and trying to figure out what actually works in the world of second passports and offshore tax, banking, and investments. Because of that, I can tell you that what you think works often doesn’t work in reality.
EntreLeadership gives you the same experience-based insights from people who have been walking the walk, like the founder of Chick-fil-A who built a fast-food chain from nothing to a huge brand in the United States. I find a lot of business books to be rather theoretical and I liked how Ramsey used real examples.
A number of years ago, when I started traveling substantially through Asia, I met a lot of young new entrepreneurs who would ask me if I had read whatever business book was popular at the time. I was often embarrassed because, a lot of the time, I hadn’t read the books they were talking about.
As a kid, I would read biographical and inspirational business books, but once I actually started a business, I hadn’t been reading that many business books. I’ve focused a lot more on personal development books or books about what we do at Nomad Capitalist like the geography and politics of different places and what makes countries succeed. I don’t read so much about business.
But the few business books that I have read, I was not that thrilled by. If I am going to read a business book, I want it to be worth my while. And to get that, you need to read something from someone who’s actually done it.
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey is that book. It is an antidote to reading too many books because it has so much information all in one place.
I remember walking around Mexico City while listening to the audiobook and I felt like I needed to get a pen to start writing down notes because there was so much information. It’s deeper than a book that’s going to make you feel good or tell you how to start a business.
EntreLeadership: The Best Business Book
If you have a business already that you want to grow, this is the book that will help you get to that next level through hiring, salesmanship, having a proper mission, and staying on a clear path.
EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey is perhaps the best business book that I have ever read. It is filled with 20-plus years of business wisdom.
I’m a practical guy. I don’t want to bathe in theory. Theory works for a small part but 80% of success is action and behavior, only 20% is strategy.
This book will show you how to become a practitioner, not a theorist.
Let us know in the comments what business books you’ve been reading.