Don’t let people guilt you into not getting your money right
I hate whenever I hear people say things like, it’s not about the money I just love the snakes. BULLSHIT… lets be real. Why can’t you do both? Everything is about money and anyone who says things like money isn’t important, is in denial and likely barely scraping by if not flat broke. I want to produce cool animals and get paid doing it… that doesn’t make me a bad person it makes me a realistic one. You don’t have to mistreat your animals or be an unethical dirt bag to make money breeding and selling them. In fact I think if you do mistreat your snakes and take advantage of your customers for a quick buck, you will NOT be profitable and your business will fail. Furthermore, if you have a family and dependents you are OBLIGATED to provide for your family. Would you rather blow all your money on a hobby that never produces income? Is that somehow noble? Great go take up golf, live pay check to pay check, rack up credit card debt and go to a job you hate everyday. Me, I’m all about having my cake and eating it too. If you love working with reptiles the way I do and your okay with earning some coin, then you are in luck. How many people have hobbies they love that can actually put great profits back into their pockets? If you don’t need the extra coin, then donate it to a worthy cause and help improve the World a little. This hobby of ours is an amazing one. It has the power to change your life for the better. Not only will you have a blast while getting paid to do so, you will meet all kinds of cool people and make friends all over the World. There are all kinds of people out there that share your passion… this I find to be one of the most rewarding aspects of the hobby. I now have friends and customers from all over the Globe. It’s crazy and very cool.
Over the years many people have assumed that I bred snakes full-time and that this was my primary source of income. This is not true, up until 18 months ago I worked full-time in the Biotech industry while I built Ozzy Boids as a hobby business. I always recommend that aspiring breeders keep their day jobs while building their business, but I have seen guys like Justin Kobylka go all in right out of college and do great. So it’s really about whats comfortable and right for you. If you’re committed, you can make it happen. While working, this hobby was my escape and it turned out to be a great source of extra income over the years. Although I mostly loved my career in Biotech, it eventually became a drag as I moved up the ladder into Senior Management where there’s no shortage of BS and politics. Having an extra income stream allowed me to walk away from more than one job over the years and finally my last job once it became toxic. This is called “financial freedom.” Most people don’t have this luxury and wake up miserable everyday knowing they have to go to a job thats sucking the life out of them. I know so many people working in soul crushing jobs like this and it’s sad AF. Who really wants to live like this? Not me… and If you get your finances right, you don’t have to. Money may not buy happiness, but a lack thereof sure can be miserable. So if you hate your 9-5 you should be doing everything you can to get the hell out of that situation. Don’t give up… find a way because life is too short to be miserable everyday.
Mass Production = Self-destruction
Wether its ego or greed you may think that producing a ton of babies is a great idea. I mean why produce 60 clutches per year if you could produce a 1000 and crush everyone? I have witnessed several breeders take this mass production approach over the years and they all fail terribly. They end up broke, in debt, burned out and miserable. Here’s why I think BIG collections are not profitable:
- Employees… theft, cost, neglect of animals, lazy, unreliable, crazy etc. I have heard it all over the years and experienced it myself when I opened a store. Sometimes you get lucky and find solid people, but most of the time it sucks. At the end of the day, no one will care for your prized collection the way you will.
- Overhead… you may produce a ton and sell a ton but at the end of the year you will only net a small fraction of your income. The profits will be eaten away by reduced productivity, expenses and you simply not being able to stay on top of current trends and market moves.
- Animals are unforgiving. Animals will thrive when you provide optimum conditions. You HAVE to be consistent in providing a hygienic living space with appropriate temps/humidity and adequate nutrition. Clean water thats replaced at least weekly is a must. I believe stagnant water is the primary cause of respiratory infections. If you have too many animals, trust me you will fall short in staying on top of husbandry… and the result will not be good.
- Market slowdown… when the market slows and it always does and you have thousands of babies sitting in your racks, not selling while you still have to pay employees and buy even more feeders than usual… the panic sets in. The ironic thing about this is the market slowdowns are due to over production and price instability caused in part by these same individuals. These guys are the first to start slashing prices in their desperate attempt to dig themselves out of the mess they created. But slashing prices just creates more uncertainty and sales slow even more… why would anyone invest in the midst of this kind of bloodbath? I’ve watched this happen multiple times over the years. Its UGLY! I rather produce and sell one well cared for snake for $2k rather than 20 at $100 each.
Small, Nimble and Potent!
In direct contrast to the massive collection, small and healthy collections are productive, profitable and FUN to work with. I believe having a small, high-end collection gives the best returns. Huge collections may generate a shitload of babies and sales but all the $$ will be sucked up by expenses and your production percentages will be significantly lower compared to a hobbyist with a small collection. You will also be miserable dealing with employees and all the headaches a huge collection will bring. Over the years I have averaged 45 clutches per year. I kept my overhead very low, kept my collection small and easy to maintain. I have always been profitable and likely more profitable than some of the guys who produced hundreds of clutches. This is the first year I will hatch more than 50 clutches, but that’s because I’m semi retired now after quitting my 9-5 at 47, not 65! My goal is to target 75 clutches per year now. If you guys pay attention to what I produce, you will see that each clutch is unique and likely contains a world first. I’m not flooding the market with crap and shitting on my past customers. Unique animals like this are always in demand and having only one or two of each combo makes them easy to sell even during a market crash. I can also command top dollar because I’m not desperate to sell and often times would not mind keeping some of the gems I do sell. Having to hold inventory for up to a year or more is no problem. So stay small and chase hard to make unique and cool combos. I’ve said it very early on in my breeding career… this industry belongs to the hobbyist. The hobbyist is what drives this market… they are the ones who reap the most from it… personal enjoyment, friends and good coin if done right. The animals from a small, passionate breeder are more likely to be healthy and well cared for. Bottom line is you don’t have to be Big to do Big things in the hobby.
Unfortunately, most educational institutions don’t teach kids about personal finances. Lets face it, most people are downright illiterate when it comes to personal finance. Our society is trained from an early stage to spend, spend, spend. Entire industries are built around exploiting this ignorance. This epidemic of financial ignorance is great for big business and the top 1% who feed off of the general public’s poor understanding of money. When the housing market crashed in 2007 a small group of people made a killing while hurting billions of people all around the Globe. Man the traps are everywhere. Every time I go to a store they try and bait me with credit cards by offering 10-15% off my current bill. I stop them mid sentence, no thanks. Save that crap for the next idiot in line. Debt is only good when it’s low interest and being borrowed to invest in income generating assets. They love selling $150 sneakers that cost $20 to manufacture or giving you credit cards to bury you in high interest debt. Trust me everything around you is designed to eat up all of your hard-earned and keep you underwater drowning in debt. I only use debt to invest in things that will grow my income, not feed on it.
Making a lot of money doesn’t automatically mean you will become wealthy. In fact, most high wage earners in the US are broke living paycheck to paycheck. They may be living the good life, but they’re NOT building wealth. In fact if they get fired or laid off, they will lose it all if they don’t find another job fast. The real value of a dollar is not what it can buy you, the real value of money is it’s ability to grow and multiply IF YOU PUT IT TO WORK. So if you’re not investing a good portion of your earnings in assets that can grow and multiply you’re wasting it. The general public is spoon-fed a bunch of crap that’s intended to keep you in consumer mode. Get a raise and finance a bigger house or faster car. Buy some cool new gadgets, work all your life at a job you hate, invest in safe mutual funds so you can retire and enjoy life when your 65 years old. Lets be real, after working in a soul crushing job for 45 years when you hit 65 you’ll be too beat down and sick to enjoy retirement. These are the lies that are being fed to the middle-class and guess what? Thats why the middle class is quickly disappearing.
Keep Score or you will be Played
How many people you know track their net worth? I think everyone should be forced to track their net worth. If they did, the World would be a better place. If they did, then they would see what I’m talking about. It’s real easy to do… just do a google search and you can find a spreadsheet to use. It’s simply your assets, savings, etc minus all the debt you have (car note, mortgage, credit card debt, etc.). If you have a snake biz, that’s an asset and you can search online for calculators that will help you value the business. Most small breeders will be pleasantly surprised by their net worth and if compared to others who don’t breed you will see a BIG difference in net worth. That’s because your breeders are assets, not liabilities.
If you want to get your money right, you need to educate and motivate yourself. Tracking your net worth is a great way to stay motivated and aware of where all your hard earned is going. Are you consuming more than you’re producing? To become financially free you need extra income streams from multiple sources. Breeding snakes is a great way to generate an extra income stream, but it’s also a great way to create new income streams with the money you make. Hell, any side-hustle and/or hobby business that generates extra cash is the first step to getting your money right, but only if you reinvest the profits. Once you have extra cash coming in from your collection I recommend the following. Reinvest 20-30% of the profits back into your collection to stay cutting edge, 30-40% in other investments such as stocks or my favorite investment real estate and spend the rest on what ever the hell you want. Splurging a little to keep you mentally, emotionally and physically healthy is also an investment. Take a vacation with your lady/man or family, buy a nice ride or anything that will motivate you to keep grinding. As long as you’re not going into debt to do so. This is guilt free consumption… because despite these expenses your net worth will continue to grow. You can use income from your real job to pay the bills and keep your debt low or better yet at zero. So as you see getting your money right doesn’t have to be a drag. Hell you can have fun breeding snakes and enjoy an above average lifestyle all the while building your wealth.
Here’s a couple of my favorite books I recommend you read or listen to on audio book.
The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kyosoki. This book is the sequel to Rich Dad Poor Dad another great read. This book explains money in easy to understand terms. It explains how the W2 wage earner in the US pays the lion share of taxes and how the wealthy pay the least amount of taxes while earning most of their income by passive means (they don’t have to get out of bed and go to work to make $$). As the saying goes, its not how much you make, it’s how much you keep. Get it and educate yourself!
Be Obsessed or Be Average by Grant Cardone. Download this as an audio book. It is read by the author and Grant is as genuine as they come. I love this book. It explains how obsessions which are typically viewed as a negative can become a positive thing if you obsess over the right things. Hell, I became obsessed with my snakes and Ozzy Boids… and it changed my life for the better. #BOBA baby!
If you want to learn more about real estate investing, check out BiggerPockets.com It’s an online community of real estate investors. Real estate is hands down the best way to build wealth not only for yourself, but for generations to come. They have free podcasts you can listen to on real estate investing and personal finance. Check it out…
There’s a lot of other resources out there that will help you learn and grow. You just have to make an effort. I hope this article helps some of you get on the path and inspires those of you already on the path to stay on course. Life is what you make it and being normal or average is way overrated… so go get yours!