It can seem like most billionaires were born into rich or middle-class families. But can someone really get rich from nothing? Can they really be self-made?
Also, it seems like they all made their money through starting a business in a boring industry. But can you become a billionaire without having to start a business? Can you do it in a non-boring, new industry?
Maybe. Let me show you how…
If we’re talking billionaires only, there’s no denying that some of them inherited a fortune. But plenty are self-made and plenty work in fascinating industries that aren’t as dusty and boring as finance. Check out this infographic for proof:
My favorite billionaire who has jumped into numerous exciting industries is Richard Branson. He truly pursues any flashy industry that interests him where he sees an opportunity in the market. He’s been in the music, space travel, airplane, telephone, soda, and gym industries to name a few.
Unlike Warren Buffett, who invests in existing companies, Richard’s a true serial entrepreneur, often actively spearheading the start of his company in a new industry.
They’re Not So Lonely As You Think
There are over 2,000 billionaires and that number’s growing every year. There are millions of millionaires and that number grows daily. When it comes to finding a mentor to learn how to get rich, there are plenty to choose from.
The free podcast Eventual Millionaire helps you in this pursuit. It interviews a couple new millionaires every week, and hundreds of interviews are already in the archives.
If you listen to enough episodes, as I have, you realize that many are self-made, with poor beginnings. You can become rich starting with humble beginnings. It’s obviously harder but possible.
Sure, very few billionaires have done it, so it’s less likely to get to that level from dead broke. But there are people who prove this to be true, such as John Paul DeJoria, who used to be a homeless, single parent with a child.
But if you want to be a millionaire and you’re broke with broke parents, your chances are higher as there is a higher percent who started from the bottom. (Who needs a billion dollars to be happy anyways? A million is fine.)
The people who started from nothing, dropped out of high school or college, and became millionaires are fewer but they still exist. Brian Tracy and Richard Branson are high school drop out success stories, for example.
Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Dell, and Bill Gates didn’t finish college.
Steve Wozniak didn’t have a college degree. He got one of his first jobs because he simply knew so much about a growing field since he studied it for fun.
The truth about getting rich as a drop out
While many will try to make it seem like school is useless and tell you that you have equal or greater chances of succeeding by dropping out, I have to be brutally honest about this…
It’s poetic and inspiring to say this and for some people, like Gary Vaynerchuk, dropping out and pursuing entrepreneurship worked for them.
But statistically, it’s still much more reliable that you will get rich if you get a university degree. More billionaires and millionaires graduated from an Ivy League than dropping out.
People like to point to Bill Gates and Zuckerberg but they have both stated in many interviews that if their business failed, they could have easily resumed school and gotten their degree. Harvard offers an option to pause your education for as long as you want.
Having said that, don’t make your life just another average statistic. If you’re forced to drop out and there’s nothing you can do about it, make the best you can of the situation.
Become one of those superheros that becomes rich even though you don’t have a degree. It’s been done before. Or another option is to work so hard that you are able to eventually earn a degree later in life when you can afford it.
Chances are, you’ll discover that the degree isn’t as useful as you picture it. Unless you’re going for a specific, specialized profession that requires secondary degrees, like a doctor or lawyer, you can probably learn it all for free online. Nowadays, there’s services like iTunesU, Lynda.com, and YouTube that offer courses, even by Ivy League schools for free.
Also, getting a degree is no guarantee of wealth or even decent income. There are many real world examples of A students working for C or D bosses. Robert Kiyosaki wrote a whole book about it.
Can you become a billionaire without having to start a business?
This is an interesting question. Most people think of doctors or lawyers as rich. Many pressure their children to become one.
Yet most doctors or lawyers cap out around $100,000 to $500,000 a year because they are stuck exchanging their dollars for hours.
Most billionaires and people with net worths above $10 million have done so because they have leveraged a business model that has people working for them and scaling their products or services to levels that don’t require them to be there.
That is the power of business.
Many people never realize this.
However, what if you’re just not good at business? It can be a bit discouraging when it seems like 99% of billionaires are in business of some sort.
You can be great at your gift, which is not in business, and still become a billionaire. You do so by leveraging other people who are good at the stuff you’re not, business, to create a business model to do that.
6 billionaires who made their money without having to start a business
As you’ll see, all of these people had businesses that were built on their specialized skills. Business did play a role in their wealth creation. It kind of has to because you need a way of distributing to millions to sell and deliver your good or service. However, the difference between these people and most other billionaires is that their main role or job was never a “business role” like founder, CEO, CFO, etc.
1. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah’s gift is as a talk show host and in her ability to interview with great social intelligence. She’s a billionaire by leveraging other people who handle the business aspect of things (the TV show and her TV network).
2. Michael Jordan
Michael’s one of the best basketball players in existence. Sports was his gift. He became a billionaire off leveraging other people to handle the business aspect of what he does. They leveraged his brand and reputation to create products like the famous Air Jordan shoes to make him a billionaire.
3. George Lucas
With a net worth of over $4.8 billion, George is the successful filmmaker behind Star Wars, Terminator, and Indiana Jones. He became a billionaire by getting other people to handle the business aspect of things. They leveraged the popularity, mythology, and demand of the Star Wars story to create millions of Star Wars themed toys that were distributed through a business model.
George made his money through his films, but a great portion was made through the royalties he got through the toys. His gift was in creating a captivating fictional story and turning that alive. The demand from millions of fans was capitalized through a toy industry business.
4. J.K. Rowling
World’s first female author billionaire. She fell off the billionaire list because she donated $160+ million to charity. Enough is enough.
Harry Potter was one of my favorite childhood fiction series and still is. Her story is an incredible one of perseverance and low-income. Like many best-selling authors, they didn’t give up after facing dozens of rejections from publishers. Mrs. Rowling has tweeted photos of her rejection letters as inspiration.
5. Eric Schmidt
He has a net worth of 9+ billion USD. He’s the executive chairman of Google. In a couple interviews, he has given great credit to luck for his success. He also has claimed that he was never a CEO or founder. He said he came into Google specifically to help build the founder’s dreams, not his own (Larry and Sergei’s).
It worked out well. He does what he loves and held true to his gifts in life. Sometimes, your gifts are not as a founder or CEO and you have to understand that so you can come to terms with it. Then, you can utilize your true strengths and gifts to reach your potential.
6. Markus Persson (a.k.a. Notch) – net worth $1.5 Billion
Markus is a very interesting example of a billionaire because he never really had exceptional business skills. He is the founder of the widely popular game Minecraft and was responsible for programming and updating it. He fed off the rapid demand of the game. He held onto it for years despite acquisition offers, eventually selling to Microsoft.
Markus has a very active twitter account, and is quite entrenched in Internet culture. He donated to a Fair-use copyright fund to protect Youtuber’s rights in 2016.
He has said that he liked starting off creating Minecraft because he could do what he wanted. But he didn’t like when it hit critical mass because he could everyone was always complaining no matter what he did and he couldn’t please them.
Should you drop out of high school or college?
Probably not — unless you can still get in if your venture fails.
People love to cite Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg as examples. But all of them, including Michael Dell, have admitted that their school had policies that allowed them to return at any time if their business failed. They had a back-up plan to reduce risk.
On top of that, Bill admits that he was so good at programming that he was also confident he could get a good job if his business failed.
College may not teach you much that will be applicable later in life. I get that. Many successful people have admitted this after going to school. But consider what else college can give you outside of the realms of your future career.
College is an experience for the young that you may regret if you skip it — the parties, the young friends you make, the campus activities — it’s a magical time you may never get back.
Having said that, it’s not always for everyone, so there’s a chance that your best choice would be to skip it. Maybe you don’t see the value or don’t think you’ll regret missing any social experiences.
I wasn’t invited to many parties at all and ended up playing video games alone in my room often. However, I did get a lot of value from the massive library it offered, I liked forming relationships with people my age, and I stumbled across my love of personal development, business, and audio books by luck during my time there. Especially if you get into an Ivy League school where everyone is a up-and-coming potential star, you never know how those networking connections will play out in the future.
You get the point. It’s important to note that although people didn’t have the business savvy, they still used business to make their billions. You cannot simply rely on your gift alone.
From now on, make sure that no excuses hold you back. Never ever complain about the fact that geography, education, connections, or anything else can hold you down.
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