How to Make a Million: The Gaston Rules

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Find a need and fulfill it. Successful businesses are founded on the needs of people. Once in business, keep good books. Everything that goes in the cash register doesn't belong to you. Also, hire the best people you can find.
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As one of Birmingham, Alabama’s first millionaires, Gaston proclaimed, “There’s no trick to making money. There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s a rule. Just like a rule of nature. You do certain things and you get certain results. It’s simple. Anybody can do it. People who lack determination and will power talk about luck and black and white magic. Nonsense! People who know where they want to go and who are determined to get there, will keep working all the way to the bank”.

On customer service, Gaston stated, “We meet our competition by rendering better service at no added cost. We appeal to our people from the point of view of race pride, but at no additional cost for such loyalty”.

Among the businesses which grew out of his original investment of $35 in 1923 were:

  • The Citizens Federal Savings and Loan Association
  • The Booker T. Washington Business College
  • The Grave Cemetery
  • The A.G. Gaston Motel and Restaurant
  • The Smith and Gaston Funeral Homes
  • The Vulcan Realty and Investment Corporation
  • Citizens Drug Store (a Walgreen agency)

The Gaston Rules

  1. Pay yourself first. Take yours off the top. Pay yourself a salary. Set aside a specific amount of each paycheck as your money. Take that money out first and bank it. You’ll be surprised how fast the money builds up. If you have two or three thousand dollars in the bank, sooner or later somebody will come along and show your how to double it. Money doesn’t spoil. It keeps.
  2. Establish a reputation at a bank or a savings and loan association. Save at an established institution and borrow there. STAY AWAY FROM LOAN SHARKS.
  3. Take no chances with your money. Play the safe number, the good one. Take your time. A man who can’t afford to lose has no business gambling. When you can afford to lose, you seldom do.
  4. Never borrow anything that, if forced to it, you can’t pay.
  5. Don’t get big-headed. Never forget the “little fellows”. That’s where the money is. If you stick with the “little fellows”, if you give them your devotion, they’ll make you big.
  6. Don’t have so much pride. Wear the same suit for a year or two. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of suit the pocket is in, if there is money in the pocket.
  7. Find a need and fulfill it. Successful businesses are founded on the needs of people. Once in business, keep good books. Everything that goes in the cash register doesn’t belong to you. Also, hire the best people you can find. Try to find a person who is worth more than you can afford and then pay him.
  8. Stay in your own class. Never run around with people you can’t afford to compete with.
  9. Once you get money or a reputation for having money, which is the same, people will give you money.
  10. Once you reach a certain bracket, it is very difficult not to make money.

Read more about A.G. Gaston courtesy of wikipedia

Some of the rules may have changed a bit since the 1920’s, but you can see that success was a strict strategy of self containment and commitment. One that is simple to learn, yet hard to apply. But if you do set and apply rules and also be true to your purpose and yourself, you can make (or save) a million and more. Once you do that, you’ll be addicted.

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Torrey Lawrence Adams

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