My father is considered a wealthy person. I heard that only from outsiders. At home we have always lived very frugal, maybe too much frugal for my taste.
The result is that I grew up with a keen sense of the value of money, like everyone else in the family. The frugality value might come from our grandfather who was a farmer, but struggled a lot to feed its kids during the second world war when the French used forced labor and confiscation of goods in the colonies for their war effort. My grand mom died of adult smallpox, because the war has disrupted the retail of critical medicines.
Until now, I buy only what I need. I wear clothes till someone would notice that they are thorn, or a girlfriend will bring me new underwear. I check price carefully, and compare things in almost compulsive way before I’d buy. For me, work has a definite equivalent in monetary compensation or is benevolent. If the compensation I receive covers my needs and the one of my family, I found that a fair wage.
That kernel value system has been shattered when I got close to people who are making a lot of money, mostly as contractors to big companies or government.
The amount of money these people invoice their clients has nothing to do with the work to be done or the work which has been done. Sometime the invoice has nothing to do with a specific work but just entitlement. Their commercial margin are insanely high, up to 90%, while the amount of money exchanging hands are in the fold of several millions.
I was shocked when recently a friend showed me how much money he makes on a public organizations contracts. He would earn 9 million on a contract of 12 million. The three million of his expenses include the bribes he paid to few intermediaries. In another contract of 60 million, his expenses were only 10 million.
He owns a service business in West Africa.
With such insane margins, he is by any local measure an insanely rich person. I asked him how could he be so bold to include a such high margin in his contracts.
“It’s the only way to play at the high level. The money is there to be grabbed once you get a foot in the door. These organizations have to spend the money. We help them empty their budget during a fiscal year. We are doing them a service, believe me. You have to play big with the big guys” he said almost laughing.
It’s not a surprise if it’s estimated that Africa loses 25% of its GDP to corruption, amounting to 148 billion every year.
The more I observe the way these people become rich or make money, I concluded that if you chose the path of financial wealth, you have to learn to separate value from invoicing, unless you are in a consumers’ business.
Enterprise pricing is a game with its own rules and codes. You have to be bold. You have to price high, and have the gut to ask for the money even if you’ve done nothing.
Work doesn’t make you rich. Invoicing does. And invoicing with hefty margin separates you from the crowd.
Frugality is good to keep money, not for earning it. Learn to write invoices with 90% of margin, or keep your job in the cubicle.