From Broke to Billions: 5 Strategies These Billionaires Used to Get Rich
Today, as it's been for all our recorded history, getting rich entails building and adding an abundant amount of value to the world.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There are 2,043 billionaires in this world. Approximately one-quarter of them are from the US. Millionaires? We boast roughly 16 million of them. Clearly, it's hard to amass such a large fortune. In fact, when it comes to getting rich, a billion is an order of magnitude greater than a million. Millionaires seem to be a dime a dozen. Not billionaires.
When a person can amass such an unfathomable amount of wealth, it piques the interest of our global population, much of them steeped in poverty rather than wealth. But does that mean we should be envious or enraged at the people at the proverbial top? The truth? Whether you're a victim or a champion of our capitalistic society largely depends on your financial situation.
Some of us look at those who've attained such unimaginable wealth with disdain. Others, with envy. Me? I want to know how they did it. I want to understand the inner workings of their minds. How did they navigate their way to such sensational success? How did they avoid all the perils and pitfalls that seem to entangle much of our civilization?
I have immersed and inserted myself into a circle of individuals to specifically answer this question. I've surrounded myself with people living life at the highest level because I am curious how they did it. Is there some secret sauce? Some magic formula? Some unknown principles or techniques?
I want to know how they did it, kept it and grew it. Making money isn't as complex as most people make it out to be. Sure, there is a so-called guru gauntlet that most find themselves a victim of when trying to discover the real secrets to making money online these days. But that's not really what I was interested in.
I was interested in things that moved the needle. How did the world's billionaires get so rich? How did they harbor such intense self-discipline? You often read about advice or listen to a talk that these individuals give, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other. Do we follow much of that advice? Nope. It often falls to the wayside. We live on, steeped in detrimental habits that hold us back.
However, before I launch into the strategies that a handful of billionaires used to get rich, I wanted to convey one very powerful piece of advice. Thoughts are things. There is pure power in your thoughts. Use them constructively. They can either limit you or they can propel you. if you focus on positivity, good things will happen. Focus on the negative, and watch as your life spirals downward.
What it takes to become a billionaire.
You're likely asking yourself what it takes to get rich. But not just rich. Rich at the highest level. How do you go from broke to billionaire? Most people might simply want to have positive cash flow or even a million dollars in the bank. But does a million dollars really cut it these days? I suppose that depends on where you live and what you do.
But billionaires are a different breed. It's a different world. Spending time with them is more likened to fabled fantasies rather than actual reality. The world truly is their oyster. Now, if you want to get there, or you're just looking to become a multi-millionaire, there are some strategies that will propel your growth.
In fact, there are five strategies these billionaires have used to go from broke and hopeless, to absolutely on top of the world. If you're looking to replicate their success, then you need to heed the following strategies and take them to heart. One other thing to keep in mind is that you're far less likely to attain this type of success without owning your own business.
But if you're already an entrepreneur or a business owner, then it's a matter of adapting. Not only do we adapt to survive, but we must also adapt to thrive. Look at the following strategies and see how you can adapt them to your business, or to potentially pivot your business to strike while the proverbial iron is hot in one sector or another.
Most people think that it's impossible to go from broke to billionaire. But it's been done repeatedly. Individuals including Roman Abromovich, Francois Pinault, Howard Schultz, Oprah Winfrey, Shahid Khan, Do Won Chang, Ralph Lauren, John Paul DeJoria, Larry Ellison and Mohed Altrad were once flat broke. But they all became billionaires.
How did they do it? First, and foremost, by harboring the following skills. And second, by wielding one of the five strategies that you'll find below. As you read the list and the strategies, ask yourself the following question. How many of these skills am I employing and how can I adapt these strategies to my business today, right now?
- Leverage an abundance mentality and laser-focus your mindset
- Become an expert at business networking
- Overcome the often-stifling fear of failure
- Effectively manage your time
- Create long-term goals and take daily action towards them
- Never give up no matter how tough things might be
- Focus the power of your thoughts on the positive over the negative
- Never look for shortcuts or try to cut corners
- Understand the underlying principles of sales and marketing
- Become a fervent brand-builder
1. Create something that adds an abundant amount of value to the world.
Today, as it's been for all our recorded history, getting rich entails building and adding an abundant amount of value to the world. The richest and most successful people have added the most value. That's how real wealth is attained. Find some way that you can add an excessive amount of value to the world. This is not a short-term strategy. This takes time.
But it also involves seizing opportunities as they arise. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard got incredibly rich not by inventing new products, but by improving on existing products. While Patagonia is a giant clothing retailer today, at the age of 50, Chouinard's company went bankrupt after the fallout from a series of lawsuits.
However, Chouinard stayed the course. He added value. Improved on iterations of products to make them better for the environment, longer lasting, and higher in quality. That's how Patagonia grew into a behemoth. He added an abundant amount of value.
2. Create a consumable product that people love.
There are a number of industries in consumable products that are simply taking off like wild fire. From cold-brewed coffee to energy shots and drinks and even electronic cigarettes have become industries that have begun to balloon. Manoj Bhargava, founder of the 5-Hour Energy Drink, grew his business from a 2003 startup to over $1 billion in sales by 9 years later.
In 2010, Howard Panes was $600,000 in debt and lost his house to a short sale when he entered into the e-cigarettes industry, ramping it up within 18 months to over $100 million in sales. Several years later, after an astounding exponential growth, Japan Tobacco International, a corporate giant with 27,000 employees and $20 billion in annual revenue acquired the company.
With no experience in the industry, Panes, like Bhargava, did what it took to see things through, traveling and living in Shenzhen, China where the company refined its product and delivery systems. Today, as an avid car collector with a near-$15 million collection of rare and exotic hypercars, Panes has become one of South Florida's wealthiest residents.
John Paul Dejoria, who was not only once broke, but also homeless and living in his car with his son, also did the unimaginable. He created salon-quality products and went door to door to sell them. He focused on quality and he took action every single day. At the age of 36, with a $700 loan and while living in a car with his son, he grew Paul Mitchell Systems into a behemoth, becoming one of the world's richest persons in the process.
3. Insert yourself as a service provider into a high-growth industry.
We saw AirBnB grow from obscurity and blow-up air mattress rentals on floors into a global behemoth, making its three founders, Brian Chesky, Nathan Biecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, who were all once broke, into billionaires. AirBnB blazed a trail. But they weren't the first. Vacation rentals had already begun to take off, but VRBO was first. Yet, AirBnB did it better.
The goal? Identify a high-growth industry and become a service provider. Whether that's vacation rentals, ecommerce, financial services, insurance, virtual reality, chat bots, or any other industry for that matter, insert yourself into the industry by finding a unique way that you can provide the same service, but better, more efficiently and with greater reliability.
You could also find a way you can cater to the rich themselves by building up a service that attracts wealthy individuals. Whether that means renting out exotic cars, private jets, or becoming a global concierge for the uber wealthy like Annastasia Seebohm's Quintessentially Group, find a way you can do something more effectively than everyone else around you.
Kenny Trout, the founder of Excel Communications, achieved his success in the early telecom industry by becoming a long-distance reseller after deregulation took hold, selling over 200,000 franchises using the multi-level marketing model. Trout, who grew up with a dad who worked as a bartender, never had much money. He sold life insurance early on and identified a high-growth industry that he trail-blazed his way into.
4. Find a way to improve communications or connection online.
Mark Zuckerberg became one of the world's wealthiest individuals by improving connection and communications online. Today, we all know about the success of Facebook. But Zuckerberg was never poor or broke. He hailed from an upper-middle-class heritage.
However, what's most intriguing is the story of What'sApp founder, Jan Khoum. In 2007, while working at Ernst & Young, and shortly after the launch of the iPhone, Khoum, who was an immigrant from Ukraine, where he was born, decided to create a communications app with Brian Acton that was released in January of 2010.
Khoum, who had been passed over for a job at Facebook just shortly prior, grew WhatsApp into a wildly popular communications application that was later acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. Like other billionaires, Khoum seized on the new industry and identified an opportunity that others might have missed.
5. Invest in real estate and grow your portfolio over time.
Real estate has given a platform to the world's richest individuals. If you think that making money through real estate is impossible, especially if you have no money to start with, then you've got a few lessons to learn. Some of the biggest real estate moguls in the world have started with nothing. It's called wholesaling and creative financing. Once you understand it, it truly can propel tremendous growth.
The goal is to focus on positive cash flow. Like Robert Kiyosaki's iconic, Rich Dad Poor Dad book and series, discover how to create assets rather than liabilities. Whether you just want to be a millionaire or a billionaire, real estate will give you a solid foundation or platform from which you can grow.
Leon Charney became a billionaire through his real estate investments. But he was the child of two immigrants, and at the time of his father's death, his family became destitute. He had nothing, and he worked his way through college and through law school.
Carl Berg, another billionaire real estate investor, also lost his father early on and was raised by his mother who was a school teacher. While working at a hotel, he met someone who turned out to be the largest home builder in the United States, who later offered him a job to run his mortgage company after he graduated from college.