5 Reasons Stupid People Make More Money Than You

Does it feel like no matter how hard you work, someone dumber than you is more successful? Here's what you can do about it.
Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group
May 20, 2013

"We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like."—Jean Cocteau, French director and poet

It is a reality—a harsh reality—that in today's business world there are a lot of idiots making a lot of money. This can be frustrating for small-business owners to witness—why should someone who is less dedicated, not as smart and not as passionate about what they do, make more money?

Here are four reasons why people not as smart as you are making more money than you, and what you can do about it.

1. The Rich Get Richer

Financial success is not always the result of hard work and skill alone; sometimes it's simply inherited. There is a statistical correlation between a person’s income as an adult and his or her parent’s income. 

Smart Action: Don't begrudge someone else's good fortune. After all, you do need investors, don't you?

2. Good Genes

It has been said that good looks play a large role in financial success. Daniel Hamermesh from Yale University concludes in his Beauty in the Labor Market study that "beautiful people will make $230,000 more in their lifetimes than average-looking people.” Other studies report that taller people tend to be more financially successful as well.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Employees Hate Their Bosses

Smart Action: You might not have any control over your genes, but you do have control over how you project your image to others. Stand up tall, speak clearly and confidently, and show the world a self-assured you. You'll see how quickly and positively people respond. Not feeling very confident? Try the "fake it until you make it!" approach.

3. No More Mr. Nice Guy

A study suggests that men who are “below average on agreeableness earn roughly 18 percent more than men who are considered nice.” For women, the advantage is 5 percent. It seems that men who are rude are more successful negotiators and therefore earn more financial rewards. 

Smart Action: The most successful negotiators aren't rude at all. They find a way to satisfy what is most important to both sides.

4. Brown Nosing

People who suck up to their vendors and customers, taking them out to lavish restaurants and sending them expensive gifts, may win the business, but have trouble sustaining it. (Those expensive gifts are usually meant to mask a shortcoming in their business.) Brown-nosers are also the first to tell their clients what they want to hear, even if it's not in the client's best interest.

Smart Action: Anyone can buy a customer or vendor for a short period of time. But winning loyal clients and customers always comes down to offering exceptional service and products, and being the best at what you do.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Get Lucky

5. Plain-Old Dumb Luck

Chance is the wild card in business success. Was Bill Gates fortunate that IBM did not want to own the source code for the new DOS operating system his small company developed for him? Did Jeff Bezos get lucky to start during a time when investors were pouring billions of dollars into the Internet? Frans Johansson, author of The Click Moment, writes that "unfortunately in business, you can be on top one day and then just a few years later, you’re at the bottom of the list because the rules of the game changed.” 

Smart Action: In business, luck has no prejudice. It's there for the taking by smart, stupid and lazy people. However, hard work generates more opportunities for small-business owner to get lucky.

Read more articles on how to be productive.

Photo: iStockphoto 

Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group