|Jeff Bezos - Amazon.com|
That's coming from my experience.
What advice would a billionaire give you when starting out? I don't know for sure, but I do know that the world's approximately 1,800 billionaires tend to share a set of common traits. Do you know what they are?
First of all, a little bit about billionaires in general...
Most ten-digit fortunes -- 68% -- in America are self-made. About half of those mega-entrepreneurs started with family money, and the other half started from scratch. Just 17% are heirs who are not active in business and another 15% inherited their wealth but are active business people. A total of 65 U.S. billionaires are women, which accounts for about one-third of the world’s 190 female billionaires. Only 11 American women are self-made billionaires.
Which sector creates the most American billionaires? Finance and investing, with 132 billion-dollar fortunes. Second place is technology (73 billionaires), followed by food and beverage (52), fashion and retail (48) and real estate (38). New York City is still the billionaire capital of America, with 74 billionaire residents. The Bay Area trails closely behind, with 70. Los Angeles and Palm Beach have 43 and 29 billionaires, respectively.
I don’t know any of these billionaire entrepreneurs personally, but I do know a number of millionaires - entrepreneurs and professionals, and even a few successful artists. And in my experience, they share the following traits with billionaires:
1. When they need knowledge, they get it.
The great majority of them - about 90% - have college degrees, but it’s not necessary for success. Among the world’s super-rich today (people like Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Fred DeLuca, David Geffen, and Andrey Melnichenko) didn’t graduate from college. David Murdock (Dole Foods) and Richard Desmond (British publishing magnate) never finished high school. That same percentage (90%) feels roughly true in terms of the most successful people I know. Those who lacked college educations were plenty smart and had the most important skills: thinking, writing, and speaking.
2. They work harder and longer than the people who work for them.
Most say they work 50-55 hours per week and they don't waste time. Canadian communication mogul Ted Rogers worked 12 hours per day. And some, like Bill Gates (when he worked at Microsoft) and Jeff Skoll (dot-com legend and eBay’s first president) took no vacations for years while their businesses were growing. These days, I probably work about 60 hours per week, but when I was in my “growth” phase, I was working 80-plus hours and not taking vacations.
Every successful person I know works long and works hard. But, I do know a few people who seem to be able to have some balance in their lives. Bill Bonner, for example, has always kept his weekends free for building stone walls or repairing roofs on his various global mansions. But he works 16 hours per day Monday through Friday.
3. They are constantly looking for profit opportunities.
When they hear about an economic or business development, they don’t hear it as some bit of abstract news about someone else. Instead, they think, “How could I profit from that?”
In this respect, you’d have to say they are self-centered. Like all super-successful people, they are constantly relating the facts of their lives back to their personal careers. I can’t get through a magazine, any magazine - even one about architecture or science - without having these sorts of personal profit questions pop into my mind.
4. They don’t dwell on mistakes.
They view problems as learning opportunities. “I don’t remember any mistakes,” late pharmaceutical billionaire James Sorenson told Forbes, “only opportunities to overcome problems.” I know some successful people who DO dwell on mistakes - mistakes made by other people. Usually, people who work for them. But, these same people are quick to forgive themselves.
I used to beat myself up over mistakes, but I eventually got over them. I realized it’s not about having a perfect batting average... it’s about how many times you get up to the plate.
5. They think neither completely positively nor negatively, but strategically.
Instead of thinking, “That’s impossible,” or “I can do anything,” they think, “Is that possible?” and “If it is, how could I do it?” This is a big point. Most people, when they hear a new idea, think immediately about all the problems it might cause, or how difficult it might be to implement, or what obstacles one might have to overcome. When I see smart business people doing this, I think to myself, “These people will never get beyond a certain point. They are limited by these instinctively negative mindsets.”
When someone suggests an idea to me, I try to shut down the critical part of my mind and listen to the potential of the idea. If my positive mind likes the potential, then I allow the critical part of my brain to raise questions and concerns. I then use both sides of my brain to come up with answers and solutions.
6. They don’t believe in luck.
In a recent Forbes poll of the 400 richest people in the world, none said they had become wealthy entirely by luck. Some said they considered luck to be a minor factor. Most, like Oprah Winfrey, consider luck an outsider’s way of describing someone who works hard and seizes opportunity. “Luck,” Winfrey says, “is preparation meeting a moment of opportunity.”
7. They are not driven primarily by money.
“Studies show the desire for financial success is no stronger among entrepreneurs than among those not starting a company,” says entrepreneur expert Kelly Shaver. Wharton School management professor Raphael Amit agrees: “No one is saying they don’t like their wealth. What matters more is the innovation, the intense commitment they have to an idea, and the difference it can make. Money is a byproduct.” I find this to be 100% true.
Billionaires are motivated primarily by challenge. They want to prove something - all kinds of things. They want to prove they are smart and their ideas are good and their critics are wrong. They want to show the world there is a place for better products and better services and things done the way they believe they should be done. These are their primary motivators.
8. They know they can’t do anything alone.
I happen to believe that this is the most important trait of all. Billionaires create important partnerships, and work with these partners to collaborate on great projects. Most importantly, they remember to give credit where it’s due.
If you want to survive and prosper with a home-business start up in the 21st century, emulate the habits of the world’s richest people. After all, why wouldn't you?