Everyone wants to be a millionaire – or a multimillionaire! – and preferably, be young when they accumulate their wealth, so that they can enjoy it and possibly leave something behind for the next generation. But the gap between that desire for financial security and the actual experience of securing and increasing wealth can be pretty big.
Note: the average age of millionaires is 63. However, the last five years have produced more young millionaires (age 30 or younger) than all previous years combined.
There are many ways that you can create significant wealth in your life, often while you’re very young. Here are a few tips and quotes from people who made their first million before they were 30.
Focus on the money
Grant Cardone, a millionaire by 30, has lots to say on this topic. A regular contributor to Entrepreneur, he graduated college broke at 21. “It’s a taboo topic,” he says, “And it shouldn’t be.”
Grant advises that those who want to be millionaires need to follow the money. “Focus on increasing your income in increments,” he suggests, and then repeat the increments. By looking at your income this way, he feels that hopeful entrepreneurs can track their revenue and increase their opportunities.
Grant tells a story about how he learned to show up instead of showing off. “When I became a millionaire,” he says, “I was still driving a Toyota Camry.”
Jennifer Kushell, who started her first business at 13 years old, and created the Young Entrepreneur’s Network at 19, offers similar advice. “When it comes to entrepreneurs, I think more young people are put out of business by emotional issues than by financial issues.” Jennifer suggests both that hopeful entrepreneurs need the support of their communities, but also that they need to address their own emotional issues around money.
Some of those emotional issues can come to the forefront when people who’ve grown up as poor or middle class get their first rush of money, either from investments or a business. They can overspend, overextend themselves with credit, which can be the difference between a fledgling business staying open another month or not.
Jennifer feels that community is a crucial part of successful entrepreneurship. In her book about being young and successful, she talks about the concept of the house on the hill that she created to explain the metaphor of power players in an industry. “To be truly successful,” she says, “you need to gain access to that house on the hill…It takes just one of these “homeowners” to invite you.”
She offers advice to young people who are struggling to be recognized within their desired industry. “You can start to join organizations, you can volunteer, you can maybe even sit on boards. You can start to build up your bio early on and do research; you can hire interns; you can start to establish yourself in your community and your industry and become someone people know and respect. When your knowledge base and your expertise overshadows your age, that’s when you’re in a position where you can truly do anything and not be limited by how young you are.” Finding that homeowner can grant young entrepreneurs access to the next level of wealth generation and opportunity.
While some industry experts have more than enough on their plates with the mentees who come to them, others actively look for people to spread their message. Consider Timothy Sykes, who made millions on investments for penny stocks, and now looks for those students who he feels are best prepared to learn his methods. “I’ve been trading penny stocks for 15 years, and in that time, I’ve learned quite a few things,” he says, and he greatly enjoys passing that knowledge on.”
Look for successful examples, and learn from them
While most stories of successful young entrepreneurs are not likely to be repeated—whatever the next great social media site is, it probably won’t look much like Facebook—learning from those who came before is crucial. Although the ins and outs of the economy are ever-changing, by learning about how people have succeeded and failed before, an entrepreneur is better positioned to react to changes. “There are a lot of different people we each need, and if you’re not surrounded by people who motivate you, you’re just not gonna go as far as you could.”
Grant definitely agrees with this. He tells those he speaks with to get a millionaire mentor. “Most of us were brought up middle class or poor and then hold ourselves to the limits and ideas of that group. I have been studying millionaires to duplicate what they did. Get your own personal millionaire mentor and study them. Most rich people are extremely generous with their knowledge and their resources.”
However you go about making your first million, the key take-away is always that it’s possible. Successful entrepreneurs come from every walk of life and every social background. While it certainly might be easier to make a million dollars when you come from a background that has experience handling and earning large sums of money, it’s far from impossible to change your money habits and learn a new way of being.
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