These “Self-Made” Billionaires Know How To Get Rich – But Here’s What They’re Not Telling YouKenneth Nel
2017 was a bumper year for billionaires! For the first time since people began keeping a record of this kind of thing, Forbes listed over 2 000 people with fortunes running into 10 figures. That’s 233 more than in 2016 – and the biggest jump since Forbes began its now famous global billionaire tracking. Collectively, this translates to a somewhat mind-boggling $7.67 trillion in net worth – an almost 20 percent increase on the previous year. Of course, some poor saps fell off the list, but there were still three times more billionaires added to group than taken off. Talk about knowing how to get rich!
Actually, that’s not strictly true for all of the world’s mega-wealthy. Some of these billionaires inherited their wealth – or they’re living off Daddy’s (or Mummy’s) trust fund. So they don’t actually know how to get rich at all – they just are. Others are entrepreneurs who clearly have a canny head for business. But the Forbes list doesn’t discriminate between billion-heirs and billionaires. All that counts at the end of the day is how much you’re actually worth.
For the purpose of this blog however, let’s ignore those entitled offspring who spend their days spending their parents’ fortunes. Let’s focus instead on the working wealthy. The ones who like to call themselves “self-made” billionaires. It’s that little label that I have a problem with. Because, when you actually delve into how these people made their money, you see that most of them got a big old helping hand somewhere along the line. A hand without which, they would not have made the money they’ve made. So can we really, then, call them self-made?
Want To Know How To Get Rich? Borrow From Your Dad!
According to definition, “self-made” means “ Having achieved success or recognition by one’s own efforts.” I think the “one’s own efforts” part is the clincher there. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying these billionaires got a free ride to riches. Not at all. Unlike the billion-heirs, most of the world’s uber-wealthy entrepreneurs have worked darn hard to get where they are today. But what I am saying is this: hard work or not, they would not be where they are today without the hand out they were given from family or friends.
Take Elon Musk, for example. As one of South Africa’s most famous exports, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla is reportedly worth in the region of $20 billion. Yes, he started selling home-made Easter eggs door to door in his hometown of Pretoria when he was just 11, and created (and then sold) his first computer game at the tender age of 12. Clearly the entrepreneurial force is strong in this one. However, his first real break came when his father gave him $28 000 to start Zip2, a company that provided maps and directories to online newspapers. He later sold it to Compaq for $307 million! The rest, as they say, is history. Canny businessman? Undeniably. Self-made? Maybe not.
It’s the same with Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of famous online store, Amazon. Jeff started his business from a garage in 1994, but, after a generous investment of $100 000 from his parents, – which represented a significant portion of their life savings – he was able to really get the business off the ground. Today, Bezos is worth $118 billion. We have no real way of knowing how successful he would have been without that investment, but what we do know is that this is another billionaire who cannot honestly claim to be self-made.
Billionaire businessman Richard Branson, founder and CEO of the Virgin empire, borrowed money during the early days from his Auntie Joyce to keep the then fledgling Virgin records afloat. He has long since paid her back – with interest! But what if he hadn’t had that help? Virgin might have failed, and the world as we – and Richard Branson – know it, would be very different!
Money Makes Money – But Hard Work Makes More Of It
Having said all that however, we do have to concede that billionaires have something the rest of us don’t – and it’s not just money. Yes, many had a helping financial hand early on in their pre-billionaire days. However, what’s more important is that they also all had an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit and a real drive to make life better for themselves, their families, and other people. They’re also not afraid of rolling up their sleeves and doing the work. This is what is truly key about creating serious wealth. It’s about making the most of the luck you have, and the chances you’ve been given. It’s about believing in yourself and your dream, and of having the courage and determination to see it through.
At Digital Coach, we have the same philosophy. Sadly, we can’t claim to be billionaires, nor can we promise to make you one either. But what we can do is introduce your ambition, fire, ideas and entrepreneurial nous to our digital marketing expertise and experience. With a little coaching and direction from us, your humble business could grow to become the next Virgin or Amazon! But even if it grows to become the first Bob’s Biscuits, or Andy’s Auto, we’d love to help you on your journey to great – whatever that might mean for you.
We’re in the business of making better business, so let’s chat about how we can do that for you.