Many people idolize figures such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Society puts successful billionaires on a pedestal, often labeling them "brilliant" and lauding the way they've run their businesses.

It is true that your odds of becoming the next Bill Gates are, statistically speaking, remote. However, that does not mean that you can't mirror both the impact he's made and his entrepreneurial approach in helpful, practical ways.

Every billionaire started somewhere. When they were young, their skill sets were not much different than that of other entrepreneurs. Over time, though, they developed habits that let them become high-impact, highly successful people. Here are six not-so-known traits that nearly every billionaire shares. 

1. They invest well.

A strong investment portfolio is one of the keys behind nearly every billionaire's wealth. Getting 7-10 percent yearly returns on your portfolio isn't the sexiest thing, but it's what underlies financial freedom for most billionaires.

You can use a simple financial calculator online to help you see how it's possible. But let's say you start with $50,000 and deposit $1,000 monthly for 10 years. By the end of the period, at eight percent annual return, your money will have more than quintupled in size.

Learning how to invest is a high-leverage activity. It's helped propel many to billionaire status. Smart investing lets you spend more time focused on your company and less time worrying about making ends meet or personal wealth down the road.

2. They have a passion for what they do.

Billionaires thrive on the energy they put into work. The only way to sustain high levels of output, though, is to be deeply passionate about what you do. Otherwise, over time, the excitement fades and both the quantity and the quality of work dips.

Developing passion for what you do starts with getting to know yourself and what you enjoy. It does not necessarily have to be a specific function or industry, like sales or working in restaurants. Your passions could lie in a specific aspect of work, such as negotiations, maintaining a strong network or constantly learning new things.

Billionaires have discovered what they love to do, and it allows them to exert more effort into their work. To run a successful business, you need that same rigorous effort, which means that loving what you do is a near must.

3. They are exceptional communicators.

Your potential impact is limited by what you can personally accomplish. On the other hand, the opportunities are nearly limitless when you bring the right people together.

Most billionaires know how to rally those around them to collaborate and work towards larger missions. They accomplish this through strong communication. They express their ideas in ways that motivate others, and they maintain relationships in order to collaborate for long periods of time.

Investing time into your communication skills can feel silly, but it's one of the highest-impact choices you can make. As your communication skills improve, you're more capable of building meaningful connections and advancing your ideas, both of which are necessary for starting and scaling your company.

4. They often bypass conventional thinking.

A 2017 GoBankingRates survey found that 29 percent of Americans believe they will become millionaires in their lifetime. A Spectrem Group report in 2016, however, found that there were 10.8 million millionaires in America -- not nearly the 95 million that would be expected at the rate of 29 percent.

There's a reason for the large gap. Even though many people want to become wealthy, they don't have the discipline or the guts to accomplish the goal.

This disparity between belief and reality begs the question: What do those who succeed do differently from the rest of us? In some cases, it's certainly just luck, but in many others it's the ability to get past conventional norms.

The most successful people do not let society's constraints bog them down. Instead, they question and challenge norms. They actively seek opportunities others might be afraid to tackle, and they are unafraid of taking them on.

5. They take risks.

Those blessed with the ability to engage in unconventional thinking are usually likewise willing to take risks. Many people look at the prospect of failure with fear and anxiety, which often paralyzes them. The most successful people are not crippled by fear. They throw themselves out there and are willing to (and even often do) fail.

An example of this is starting a new business. It's a high-risk, high-reward opportunity that yields large benefits.

6. They have grit.

Grit and work ethic are often underrated when we examine success. Critics write off success as luck or natural ability, but most billionaires made huge sacrifices to reach it. They put countless hours into their work and give every task their full effort. This leads to much higher output and puts them in an optimal position to succeed.

Published on: Jul 26, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.