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Jack Falvey's Investor Education Briefs: Cash coming in means you have a business — otherwise it's a hobby

January 21. 2018 11:01PM

Following the money trail has been a crime-fighting principle we all have heard. That premise applies to business in exactly the same way. Where the money is coming from is the first question that must be answered. The answer should always be the same. The money will come from customers who will buy our product or service.

Commencement speakers everywhere exhort their potential entry-level audiences to follow their passion and to have fun. Would that it could be so! Playing video games and earning a living in the video game industry are two very different realities. Few mention having a passion for a paycheck. First things first.

Avarice is not a worthy life’s goal, but creating wealth and keeping some for your own use is not to be distained. Self-preservation is a basic instinct for good reason. Setting reasonable financial goals by understanding where money comes from supports being able to do things in life with the wealth you may acquire as a result.

Somewhere between selling your soul for a price and working full time for world peace, is a midpoint where you can be comfortable, and comfortable with your life’s plan, and perhaps your life’s work as well.

If you want to look at the road less traveled do so, but first look at where the money will come from to make that road trip a reality. Running numbers will tell you if hopes and dreams and having fun each day at work can be done. Follow the money trail and see if it will create a path you can navigate.

If there is no realistic cash coming in, you have discovered a hobby. It will be something you love and something you may be good at, but without predictable potential income it cannot earn the 100 percent of your expendable time it will require.

It may seem that millions of people can make their dreams come true. The reason you read about them all the time is they are rare and therefore make good journalistic copy. Read between the lines and see if you can see where the money is coming from. Develop that vision first. It will then allow you to see more clearly the real directions that may be open to you.

Jack Falvey is a frequent contributor to the Union Leader, Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal. He can be contacted at


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