8 things you need to know and do to become a millionaire

People always want to know the secret to becoming a millionaire. They think, wrongly, that those of us who have attained great wealth share in some secret knowledge like members of a secret society at an Ivy League college. That idea is kind of laughable, but I can understand why people have these odd notions about attaining wealth. They’ll never do it, so they make it mystical.

Becoming rich does not require some magic formula. Wealth is open and available to each one of us. It does, however, demand something that many of us lack — perseverance and commitment.

Find something you like to do, work hard and persevere, and you can become a millionaire. You have to ask yourself how badly you want it because, as much as you try to succeed, there will be people in your life who try to hold you back. They want to make your life ordinary. Most people settle for ordinary.

If you’re unwilling to be ordinary, you are willing to become a millionaire. Here a few ways you can begin that journey:

Set unrealistic goals. Being a realist gets you nowhere! If you’re facing a life realism, you’re facing a boring future. Remember, when you are willing to set high — unrealistic — goals, you can achieve so much more than the ordinary. A word of caution, reaching for the extraordinary will never be easy. But, if you limit yourself by the parameters that others place on you, you will never accomplish anything worthwhile.

Communicate your vision. An excellent entrepreneur is a person who has an accurate vision of the future and can convince all the stakeholders to embrace that vision. You must communicate and sell that vision. You are the visionary of your company. Look into the future and don’t be afraid to take risks and act on your instincts. Serve your customers and solve their problems even before they officially become problems. Do these things and success will be just around the corner.

Make mistakes. To be innovative and extraordinary in business, you have to be willing to be wrong. Everyone I know makes mistakes and takes a spill at some time in their lives. The difference is that winners get back up and keep going.

Look for ways to improve. All human beings say they want to improve and can handle constructive criticism, but no one really wants to hear it. No one takes it well. So you need to learn to embrace criticism and learn something from each situation.

Accept that not everyone will like you. It’s OK to always be liked if you never plan to be a leader or run your own company. You can’t be everyone’s friend. That doesn’t get you where you want to go. You have to be tougher and challenge people. You also have to listen to their feedback because embracing your own mistakes usually begins with someone else’s criticism.

Say “no” to losing. Make a commitment to yourself, your employees, investors or managers that losing is not an option. Go onto the playing field planning to win. Vince Lombardi is quoted as saying, “Second place is meaningless. You can’t always be first, but you have to believe that you should have been — that you were never beaten — that time just ran out on you.” If you can’t win the first time around, make sure you learn enough so that you will have a better chance of winning next time.

Know what matters. Executives make mistakes when they try to get too fancy focusing on brand extensions, cross-marketing and other high-minded strategies. In your business, don’t ever forget that it’s all about the customers. Winners understand their value. Study after study has shown that customers are willing to pay more for great service. Businesses that try to appease every customer with their prices invariably lose money.

Empower others. In my company, I know the big picture better than anyone, but my franchisees and employees know the tools they need to exceed customer expectations. A good CEO will trust employees to make the right decisions — empowering them instead of just issuing automatic edicts that they must follow.

John T. Hewitt is the founder and CEO of Liberty Tax Service and SiempreTax+. He was also the founder of Jackson Hewitt. In setting his vision and creating his companies, he has helped create 800 millionaires. John is the author of iCompete: How My Extraordinary Strategy for Winning Can Be Yours. Follow @JohnTHewitt and @libertytax.