Go to the Forbes 31st annual billionaires list and you'll find 195 who are on for the first time. The remarkable thing is that three-fourths of them started from scratch and built their wealth as they did their businesses.
Entrepreneurs dominated the newcomer ranks as three-fourths built their fortunes from scratch. They include Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of sportswear firm Patagonia. A rock climber and surfer, he started out selling climbing tools in 1965. Eight years later, he opened Patagonia in Ventura, Calif. to outfit fellow nature lovers with clothing and gear. By 2015, the firm had revenues of $750 million. Chouinard was among 25 newcomers (13%) to come from the U.S. Another 20% were European, including Norwegian Torstein Hagen, who started Viking Cruises in 1997.
People made their fortunes all over the world. They did all manner of things. One was the child of Holocaust survivors who landed in an Austrian refugee camp when he was an infant. There were men and women of all ages. What they all shared was having faced the same challenges that any entrepreneur does.
Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people who have a dream and pour themselves -- heart, soul, and body -- into it. They succeed because they refuse to fail. Even if they do time and again, they stand up and start over.
Entrepreneurship is frequently the path to riches because it is one way to create value that you get to retain. Working for an employer limits what you can make, because the company wants to retail the bulk of the profit. But when you've taken the risks, you get the rewards. Some managed to reach the rewards relatively quickly. Out of the 56 people under 40 who joined the billionaire list, 30 are self-made entrepreneurs.
There is no guarantee, of course. Few entrepreneurs will ever become billionaires. But most billionaires are entrepreneurs, and your chances of walking down that road if you wish are much higher than being born into a fortune. Here's some help, in the form of the best advice some successful people ever received.
- Learn to trust people. Until you do, you can't delegate and you'll need a lot of help to succeed.
- Bloom where you're planted. However you start, do what you're doing well. Other people come to trust your ability and drive. You also learn how to achieve things.
- Give more than you get. To be successful, you have to give the world something significant.
- Forget regret. Don't waste time over the things that didn't work out. Keep moving ahead.
- Learn to accept losing. You cannot win all the time and will likely have multiple failures before you succeed. Accept the facts of life so you can get to the next stage.
- Take responsibility. Don't blame others for your failures. Learn from them, improve, and do better next time.
- You've got your word and your name. Keep your integrity and do well. You'll find more people willing to help -- plus you'll be able to look at yourself in the mirror.