how to become a billionaire

In this article from Forbes magazine via MSN, I came across a few interesting statistics about their latest list of billionaires.

  • Overall, seven of the 16 youngest billionaires hail from China, India or Russia. Meanwhile, aside from the Google and Yahoo guys, the only American among the 16 is publishing heir Daniel Ziff, who now runs a hedge fund.
  • Thirteen of the 16 billionaires who have hit age 90 built their fortunes themselves — the three exceptions being U.S. oil-family scion David Rockefeller, Danish shipping-company executive Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller and Saudi banker Al Rajhi. The count among the youngest billionaires: 10 of 16 did it on their own.
  • The oldest billionaire alive, John Simplot, a high school dropout from the Midwest, bought and sold hogs in his youth after moving to Idaho from Iowa at an early age. He eventually plowed the profits into the potato business, where he grew his company to a $3 billion-a-year enterprise that became the biggest supplier for McDonald’s french fries. Simplot, 98, is now worth $3.6 billion.

What can you take away from that article? I’ll make a few gross generalizations:

  1. Go east, young man. While America still may be a great place to move from being poor to being middle class, places like India and China will be the best places in the world to come up with transformative business ideas that can catapult people into billionaire status. US billionaires will increasingly be heirs rather than self-made.
  2. However, a good trend is that worldwide most billionaires are still self-made. That means people coming from humble beginnings around the world have the economic freedom to leap into the billionaires’ club in a single generation.
  3. You don’t have to come up with the next Windows or Google or Facebook to be a billionaire. You can also do it being a supplier of potatoes to McDonald’s. Although Google is a lot more exciting to write about and learn about, you can also come up with a better business model for providing cola companies with sweetener or figure out how to become a dominant supplier of asphalt in Texas. Don’t think that the road to riches is hidden solely in these old Interpipes.
  4. I can do it. A self-made billionaire may have been born a millionaire, sure. The first million may indeed be the hardest. But the simple fact is that Larry Page and Sergey Brin – and John Simplot – did not have any more hours in their day than you, or the ability to shoot laser beams with their eyes, or help from alien beings. They made their wealth in a single lifetime using the same 24 hour days you have. I’m certainly not saying everyone needs to be a billionaire to be successful or happy or worthwhile, far from it. But if you WANT to do it, there is no reason you cannot.
  • http://cashmoneylife.com Patrick

    I think a higher proportion of the younger billionaires are coming from the East because their economies are booming right now. They are experienceing an economical revolution in many of those countries right now, and there are a lot of opportunities in real estate, manufacturing, and energy. I expect we will see a lot of growth in the East in the coming years and decades.

    As a side note, many MBA programs offer classes centering on the economics of some of the regions you mentioned.

    But I’m not interested in being a billionaire – I’m working on hitting that trillion dollar mark! ;)

  • http://plonkee.com/ plonkee

    Are you sure they can’t shoot lasers from their eyes?

    In all cases if you want to be very wealthy, you need some luck – at the very least an absence of bad luck as well as all the hard work and so on.

  • Money Socket

    Great post, good insight and very motivating. After all, these guys put their pants on the same way we all do right? I think there are plenty of opportunity in up and coming economies and cultures. Imagine introducing just something simple, which we take for granted, to an up and coming country. The possibilities are endless.

    Money Socket’s last blog post..Incraese Productivity By Batching Related Tasks

  • http://www.guinness416.com guinness416

    It must be a little easier to get rich in China and India because of being allowed to pay people working for you absolute peanuts in steel and construction and whatever other industries. I imagine that was true of potato farming in the fourties too.

    John Simplot looks good for 98, doesn’t he? I wonder is it the money or the hard work. If it’s the potatoes, then I may be around for a while yet!

    And a lot of the “billionaire bachelors” linked from that article you linked to have never been married at all. I suppose they’re married to their work to an extent. I wouldn’t swap my husband for a billion bucks!

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  • Matt Wolfe

    That’s an interesting article. I don’t quite believe that those guys can’t shoot lasers beams from their eyes. If they can’t already, I’d say they are darn close. With the technology they have available to them, it will happen.

    On a less serious note, I do agree that other countries are having and economical revolution. They may be doing it through standards, that in the U.S., may not be considered ethical but nonetheless, that is their culture and, like in the U.S., the ones that take the risks are the ones that are seeing the rewards. I also agree that it’s very interesting to think about all the possibilities to build wealth. So many people seem to think that you need to be an internet genius or a real estate mogul to grow your wealth but there are so many, less than glamorous, jobs out there that are making people filthy, stinking rich.

    Great Post…

    Matt Wolfe’s last blog post..Something to Aim For

  • ryan

    to comment on the previous poster who mentioned luck:

    luck is where preparation and opportunity meet.

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  • http://www.2knowmyself.com/ farouk

    i like this post, so i dont have to invent an ipod in order to be a billionares

  • http://7million7years.com/ AJC @ 7million7years

    You mean I can take OFF my uber-cool X-men sunnies???

    … but, I still think that the internet is the best way for Inter-Noob’s to hang out their shingle – and, a blog is a great way to get feedback and seed traffic for it (but, not the best way to actually try and MAKE it).

    So, if I had my time over again – actually, I do have ‘my time over’ ;) – I would do it via the Internet (and, am … two in the works + blog + new 7m7y.com ‘secret project’) …

  • http://paradigmshifted.org/ deepali

    You also have to be willing to step on the backs of the less fortunate… at least that’s how my peeps do it! Though, it’s kind of counterfactual….

    I actually started a post about this list (or an updated version of it) a while back. One thing I’ve noticed is that some people have a long residence time on the list, and some people cycle in and out quickly. What’s the difference between these two types?

  • http://www.bripblap.com Steve (Brip Blap)

    @deepali: It’s actually something as unglamorous as the way wealth is measured. If you measured me in terms of my income I’m showing a slow steady climb. If you measured me in terms of net worth, I’m showing ups and downs from cash + investments.

    I’d be willing to bet that most of the people who are based on paper fortunes cycle in and out; most of the people who are centered on assets do not. Just a guess, though.

  • http://GUERRILLABILLIONAIRE.com Guerilla Billionaire™

    Hello,

    I just came across your blog and thought that your audience would appreciate knowing about http://WWW.GUERILLABILLIONAIRE.COM. Years ago I wrote the popular startup financing manual at http://www.antiventurecapital.com. Now I am launching a labor of love: Guerilla Billionaire™. This is an action plan for pursuing the strategy most commonly used by self-made billionaires to build wealth. The 6 month course is aimed at people with at least basic entrepreneurial skills and acumen as it's taught at a high level.

    Could I have you add a link to Guerilla Billionaire™?

    Best regards,

    Peter

  • http://GUERRILLABILLIONAIRE.com Guerilla Billionaire™

    Hello,

    I just came across your blog and thought that your audience would appreciate knowing about http://WWW.GUERILLABILLIONAIRE.COM. Years ago I wrote the popular startup financing manual at http://www.antiventurecapital.com. Now I am launching a labor of love: Guerilla Billionaire™. This is an action plan for pursuing the strategy most commonly used by self-made billionaires to build wealth. The 6 month course is aimed at people with at least basic entrepreneurial skills and acumen as it's taught at a high level.

    Could I have you add a link to Guerilla Billionaire™?

    Best regards,

    Peter