Want to Get Richer? Try Catering to the Needs of the Rich

B51JDT Landscaper

More than 35 percent of Americans today are being hounded by debt collectors, according to the nonpartisan economic researchers at the Urban Institute. And according to Steve Siebold -- author, self-proclaimed "expert in the field of critical thinking" and admitted "one percenter" -- it's all their fault. What many Americans may think of as insurmountable obstacles to getting out of debt -- manual-labor jobs paying low wages -- may be the key to building up new businesses, Siebold says, and earning good wages -- by catering to the needs of rich folks.

The Problem

The Urban Institute blames "stagnant incomes" for Americans' inability to pay their bills. Eric Salazar, the Texas and Florida manager for the credit counseling agency GreenPath, notes that many of these workers have low-paying, relatively unstable jobs in construction and services.

That hardly seems like a scenario likely to set anyone up for success. And yet, construction and services, while perhaps low-paying professions when you're working for someone else, may be skills admirably suited to the kind of work that Siebold says people should be looking for.

The Opportunity

In his recent book "How Rich People Think," Siebold argues that as the rich get richer in today's economy, they' have more money to pay other people to take care of their problems. And the way he sees it, this creates an opportunity for lower- and middle-class workers. They can trade their time for rich folks' money -- and make both of their problems go away.

Says Siebold in a news release: "Millionaires are paying more for personal services than they ever have. It's a perfect time to start a lawn care service, maid service, handyman business, pool cleaning company, grocery shopping service, etc. Basically, if you can solve a problem that people are willing to pay for, you can make an endless amount of money right now."

'An Endless Amount of Money?' Really?

Well, that may be overstating the case, but as Siebold told me in an email exchange, the wealthy have plenty of money to spend right now, and they are dropping lots of cash on all kinds of personal services -- "everything under the sun."

In some cases, he means this literally: "Here's an example: I live in the mountains in north Georgia. We're having a terrible problem with weeds popping up all over the place this summer, not just on the lawn, but coming through pavers on driveways, sidewalks and decks. Someone could make a lot of money just in my neighborhood alone going door-to-door offering to get rid of the weeds. I'm willing to pay someone to do that, but I can't find anyone willing. I did it last weekend and got a terrible outbreak of poison ivy all over my hands and arms. So there you go, real-life problem and an easy solution for someone who is willing to do the work. People just need to open their eyes; the problems are everywhere."

Of course, often these rich folks who have "problems" and are "willing" to pay people to fix them don't act so willing. Living in gated communities, which are often posted with "no soliciting" signs, they're not rolling out the welcome wagon for scrappy entrepreneurs in search of problems to solve. So what's a would-be small businessman to do?

Ways Around the Problemof Problem-Solving

Advertising on Craigslist.org is one obvious example. When the wealthy have work they need done and can't find anyone to do it, Craigslist offers a great online resource for connecting job seekers with job-havers. And once you have an "in" with one client -- even behind the fences of a gated community -- you can use that contact to advertise your services through word-of-mouth to his fellow well-heeled gated-community-dwellers.

More technically savvy entrepreneurs might do even better by building websites dedicated to solving such small-job problems. What Care.com did for families seeking babysitters and TakeLessons.com did for parents seeking a tutor, perhaps you could do for the rich folk of north Georgia looking for someone to pull their weeds.

The Upshot

Siebold urges low- and middle-class workers not to "hate the wealthy" such as himself. Rather, find a way to take some of that wealth off their hands. After all, he says, "If someone offers a service [the wealthy] are in need of, they would rather spend the money to have someone do that particular thing than do it themselves. This is great news for middle-class America because ... acquiring wealth is about solving problems that people want to pay for. Find a problem, provide a solution, get rich."

Rich Smithis a Motley Fool contributor. To read about how dividend stocks can help you invest your way to wealth, check outour free report.