In 1985, Tears For Fears said that “everybody wants to rule the world,” but by 1998, that had been changed to the gameshow version of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” The answer, of course, is still everybody. With young millionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Andrew Mason of Groupon, and Naveen Selvadurai of Foursquare changing our world in real time, it’s no wonder that the youngest generation thinks that making a million dollars before they’re out of their twenties is completely possible.
While each of these entrepreneurs made their fortune in the technical sphere, there are other ways to make a difference; I’ve compiled a list of some of the traits shared by these, and other, young millionaires.
1. Team builders
The most successful young entrepreneurs don’t try and go it alone. They build a team around them of skilled professionals who work with them to make their ideas reality. While they might have the perfect idea, they understand that they can’t make all of the moving pieces of a business work on their own. Ultimately, they will need to communicate their vision to other people. They might need to bring a marketing specialist, an accountant, or a programmer on board, and making sure that those people understand and align with their vision will be crucial.
2. Love Learning
When you work a 9-to-5 job, you may hit a point where you basically know your job inside and out, and you’re just cruising along, working every day. When you run your own business and are striving to be a millionaire, that’s just not the case. You need to be able to learn on your feet, excel at developing new skills, and be able to turn those thoughts around to other team members to help communicate with them.
If you don’t love to learn new skills, it’s unlikely you’ll have the adaptability necessary to succeed in the modern, fast-paced entrepreneur environment.
3. Intense Focus
One key defining feature of young millionaires is the ability to focus on one idea and get it right. Many entrepreneurs run through plenty of business ideas before they settle on the right one. Entrepreneurs who are successful over the long term develop a laser focus on the best way to move through a particular idea or concept and develop a successful business strategy.
Apple, for example, had a very particular idea about what computers and electronics should look like, while Microsoft had a different plan about how they should be put to use. Both companies developed a specific and determined mission, and worked to build around that mission. Other ideas might be added over time, but anything that didn’t work with the mission was discarded.
4. High Risk Tolerance
Running your own business is never a safe bet. Successful entrepreneurs, especially those who make their money young, generally have a very high tolerance for risk. In some ways, it might be easier for someone who is just out of college to take a big financial risk, rather than someone who has been working a company job for years, and might have a family and a 401k that they need to consider.
It’s important to note, however, that even wealthy entrepreneurs do not tend to take foolish risks. They carefully consider market evidence, weigh pros and cons, and make incredibly informed decisions that they feel will be beneficial in the long run. They’re not guessing, or taking every opportunity that comes by them. They’re simply willing to tolerate more risk than other people in business.
5. Low Concern Over Others’ Perceptions of Them
While successful young millionaires often cultivate a successful social media brand and have an incredible understanding of market forces in their niche, they often don’t spend a great deal of time worrying about what people think of them specifically. When you set out to be a successful entrepreneur, you may hear a lot of people saying that you “shouldn’t quit your day job,” or call your idea foolish or unnecessary.
For successful entrepreneurs, it’s easy to let these statements roll off their backs and pursue their ideas with the evidence they’ve gathered of their impending success. After all, successfully developing and distributing a product is more than revenge enough.
It’s also important to note, however, that going in to business with making a million dollars as your goal is probably not a sound long-term financial plan. Similarly, there are successful entrepreneurs who do not fit this mold, and who have built ongoing businesses through simply needing the direct benefits of owning your own business – more flexible scheduling, for example.
But if you want to be a millionaire while you’re young, it’s unlikely you’ll get there through the traditional path of working for a business. Starting your own company is definitely the way to proceed.