Welcome to the first stop on the road to architecting your personal financial kingdom: developing a consistent income. Without money flowing in, passive or active, there will be no resources available to build the empire of a fulfilling life!

So what’s the most reliable way to generate your initial, regular capital?

Developing a Marketable Skill

To develop a consistent income, you first need to develop a marketable skill.

Entrepreneurship is its own advanced skill regardless of the product being hawked. This development process can start as early as high school. The sooner that you begin working on your proficiency, the better. People and businesses are willing to pay top dollar for elite ability.

Whether you’re designing a website or restoring a classic car, being recognized as the best in your field attracts a consistent and substantial income. Even if you’re not in the top 10%, at least be competent and specialized enough that your specific skill set is in demand.

Specializing in a domain of expertise involves risk, especially in a fast-moving market like technology. If you’re not swift with riding the waves of innovation, you can quickly become obsolete. However, the payoff for having a rare and highly developed skill is sometimes enormous.

There are thousands of models of cars in existence, but if you are renowned for your ability to reshape fenders on a 1957 Bel Air, then you’re going to make bank. Whereas “Life coach” is a broad and vague self-employment category, creating something unique instead like “Guru for Unmucking Your 40’s” will certainly garner you attention, leading to a motivated and moneyed clientele. “Business software specialist” is much less in demand than “SAP Data Migration Master.”

Starting out, being a jack-of-all-trades, willing to do anything through learning is an attitude that gets your proverbial foot in the door. During the learning phase, be ready to take on new challenges. See an opportunity to become the go-to Diesel Mechanic in the shop? Seize it! Your bank account will thank you.

Punctuality

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin

Being on time is not just a basic social skill but also a valuable trait to showcase in the workplace. Whether it’s clocking in for your shift, arriving at the client’s site, or delivering a project: being on time is critical to continued relationships with the people who pay you.

Hard Work

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” -Colin Powell

It almost goes without saying, but we’ve been in far too many offices and job sites where there’s more than a few slackers. It’s infuriating for your coworkers and obvious to your bosses or customers.

Need a break to recharge? OK, no problem! But strive to maintain your focus for the allotted time.

Employers reward those who have the integrity to deliver on expectations, doing what’s necessary whether you’re putting forth effort for a full 8-hour shift or grinding out a late night to meet a tight deadline.

Communication

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” -Robert Mccloskey

Communicate with the people who put dollars in your pocket.

Be clear, concise, and frequent with your contacts. For inspiration from an unlikely place, take a look at Amazon’s communication when you place an order. What you’re buying is clearly described and has great pictures. The price is straightforward, and you can read customers reviews about the product. Navigating to check out, you can see exactly when your package should arrive. You finish paying and see a confirmation screen. They finish with a nice touch, a confirmation email.

You get another email when the order ships. If you want updates on your order, simply go to the Orders screen, and you can find out where your package is in the process. When the package is delivered, you get a mobile alert. At the end, sometimes they ask how they did.

Communicating in this manner with everyone you meet would be tedious and obnoxious, but you can glean the best parts. The information that you’re most interested in is upfront and bolded. And there’s no sob story to go along with delays. It’s simply, “We’re sorry that there was a delay. Here’s when you can expect your package.”

Imagine if Amazon whined about how someone in the warehouse had to leave early, and then the UPS pickup guy overlooked a package, and the person emailing you has the sniffles – you’d be outraged. Professionalism is key when you communicate.

Last words on developing your consistent income

Whether you aim to be a beautician or a tradesman, a business magnate or landscaping artist, an author or a critic, invest your time into your skill. Learn offshoots, and try to find a specialization that’s in demand. Keep up with developments in your area of expertise and practice good business hygiene. If you work on your professional skills and search out a niche, you should find that opportunities for a decent paycheck are abundant.