In Bloomberg’s top 200 billionaires, over half are self made; 137 to be exact. Together, those 137 are worth about $2 trillion. And the percentage of self-made billionaires is growing from year to year at an amazing rate – proof that it is possible to achieve this dream. In the last 19 years, billionaire wealth growth was strongly driven by entrepreneurial wealth creation, according to a 2015 study by PWC.
Going down the billionaire path requires a great deal of perseverance, ambition, business focus, and work ethic. Match that with an appetite of clever risk taking, influencing others to believe in your dream, and massively helping others along the way and you’ll have several of the key traits of self made billionaires. Although they are fearless visionaries, many of them also started out in the world just like you.
Here are 10 extremely valuable and insightful things you can learn from these self-made billionaires to inspire you and launch your entrepreneur journey:
1. Learn to hustle early in life: Elon Musk (Founder of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and Contributor to Paypal)
Networth 13 Billion USD (Forbes)
“The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”
Elon Musk is a South African born Canadian – American billionaire technology mogul who started hustling at 12 years old. He started his entrepreneurial journey teaching himself to code and selling a video game he made for $500. When he first arrived in Canada, he held a series of odd jobs including tending vegetables, shoveling out grain bins, and cleaning out gunk from a boiler room in a lumber mill.
When he was in university, Elon sold computer parts and computers to make extra cash. And to help pay rent, he and his friend turned their 10 bedroom fraternity home into a nightclub on the weekends and charged cover. Since then, he’s built several companies, including SpaceX, Tesla Motors, PayPal, and zip2.
His philosophy: “If something is important enough, even if the odds are stacked against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk.
2. Learn to give to those who truly need it: Sara Blakely (Founder of Spanx)
Networth $1.03 Billion (Forbes)
“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become more memorable.” – Sara Blakeley
Sara Blakely is an American intimate apparel billionaire and a philanthropist who has committed to donating most of her wealth away. She started her billionaire journey when she was 27 years old, out of her Atlanta apartment and revolutionized the way women look in their clothes. In 2006, she started the Sara Blakely foundation dedicated to helping women through education and entrepreneurship. In 2013, she became the first female billionaire to join the ‘Giving Pledge’, a commitment to donate the majority of her wealth to help others who truly need it. To date, there has been more than 100 billionaires that have made this pledge.
3. Learn to grow your investments: Warren Buffett (CEO of Berkeshire Hathaway)
Networth $60.8 Billion (Forbes)
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffet
Warren Buffett is an American investment wizard and businessman. He started investing in stocks at 11 years old and real estate investing at 14 years old. Before he graduated from high school, he had a few businesses under his built, including a pin ball machine business that he later sold for a handsome profit. He made his first million at the age of 30 and already had about 20 years of business experience under his belt. He grew Berkeshire Hathaway into one of the most valuable companies in the world based on his ‘invest what you know’ mentality and strategically investing in undervalued businesses for the long term in many industries.
His philosophy is: “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.” – Warren Buffet
4. Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable: Guy Laliberté (Co-founder and Former CEO of Cirque du Soleil)
Networth: $2.1 Billion (Forbes)
“I don’t believe in pitfalls. I believe in taking risks and not doing the same thing twice.” – Guy Laliberté
Guy Laliberté is a Canadian entrepreneur, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil and a professional poker player. He is used to being uncomfortable – he started his billionaire dollar journey as a street performer playing the accordion, walking on stilts and eating fire. In 1987, he co-founded a circus troupe in Montreal and took a big risk moving it to Los Angeles to make it big. The move paid off and his troupe became the famous Cirque du Soleil. In 2009, he became the first Canadian space tourist and his spaceflight was dedicated to raising awareness on water issues making it the first, in his words, ‘poetic social mission’ in space.
5. Learn that circumstances don’t matter: Oprah Winfrey (CEO of Oprah Winfrey Network)
Networth: 3 Billion (Forbes)
“You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.” – Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey rose from a life of poverty and hardship into one of the most influential and powerful women in the world. She is an American media mogul, producer, talk show host, author and philanthropist. She grew up wearing potato sack dresses when she was living with her grandmother. By the time she was fourteen, she suffered physical abuse, molestation, and the death of her first new born. A few years later, she won a beauty pageant, got her degree in speech and performing arts, became an ABC news anchor – and the rest is history. Her cable network, the Oprah Winfrey Network, is worth billions of dollars.
6. Learn the real value of money: Mark Cuban (Owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures and Chairman of AXS TV)
Networth: 3 Billion (Forbes)
“Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” – Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban is an American business guru and investor who understood the true power of money at an early age. Before his billionaire days, he learned to stretch his dollar by living of ketchup and mustard sandwiches, couch surfing, and living on the cheap. In university, he made extra cash teaching dance lessons and hosting disco parties. He lived well below his means so that he could deploy his money on business opportunities. He lived on the cheap for a long time in order to build and grow his businesses and investments into a multi-billion-dollar empire.
In his book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, Cuban wrote:
“It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear. The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals. The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.” – Mark Cuban
7. Learn to be mentally tough: Jack Ma (Founder of China YellowPages and Alibaba)
Networth: 22.2 Billion (Forbes)
“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” – Jack Ma
Jack Ma is a Chinese internet entrepreneur and billionaire. His amazing mental toughness and resilience got him through many failed school exams including university entrance exams, twice. After graduating, he went on to dozens of rejections from jobs including a managerial position at KFC. Before he became rich and famous, he was kidnapped on a business trip to Los Angeles, threatened with a gun, and held captive in Las Vegas with no money before managing to escape. His mental toughness, resilience, extreme determination and passion to achieve his goals eventually paid off and he went on building a mega billion dollar internet empire.
His philosophy: “If you never tried, how do you know there’s no chance?” – Jack Ma
8. Learn to solve complex problems by turning them into something simple and beautiful: Elizabeth Holmes (Founder-CEO, Theranos)
Networth 3.6 Billion (Forbes)
“What I really want out of life is to discover something new, something that mankind didn’t know was possible to do.” – Elizabeth Holmes (at nine years old)
Elizabeth Holmes is an American entrepreneur who has dedicated one third of her life to her biotech blood testing company – Theranos. She is also the youngest female self-made billionaire. When she was 19 years old, she dropped out of chemical engineering to start her company because she was afraid of needles and wanted to revolutionize the blood testing industry. After starting out in the basement of her college house, she filed her first patent and worked in secrecy many years. Her company has now disrupted the laboratory industry, performing nearly 10 billion tests a year, and overturned the requirement for needles.
9. Learn the power of curiosity: Zhou Qunfei (Founder of Lens Technology)
Networth: 5.4 Billion (Forbes)
“The secret of my success was the desire to learn” – Zhou Qunfei
Zhou Qunfei is a self made female billionaire from China who built her glass lens company from the ground up. Her company supplies touchscreen glass to a quarter of all smartphones in the world. When she was 16, due to financial hardship and a need to support her blind father, she dropped out of school to work as an operator in a watch glass company. She learned the ropes of the glass making business before launching her own company in 1993. She self-taught herself at night, relying on books to create different technologies. In 2015, her company went public and made her an overnight billionaire.
“Only through determination can you succeed, you can’t give up just because of a little setback.” – Zhou Qunfei
10. Learn to share your knowledge
Here are 5 more self made billionaires that have written books to share their wisdom to grow your entrepreneur path and teach you how to build it the easier way.
- Business @ the Speed of Thought by Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
- The Virgin Way by Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
- Onward by Howard Schultz, CEO and Founder of Starbucks
- Direct from Dell by Michael Dell, Founder of Dell Computer Corp
- Built from Scratch by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank, Founders of Home Depot