Wanna be a billionaire when you grow up? While we’re not foolish enough to make any promises, the chances are better now than they’ve ever been. Consider the following. Forbes.com just released its annual list of the world’s billionaires, and each year millions of us can’t help but peruse the names with a bit of voyeuristic fascination. What would it be like to actually sit atop such a mountain of cash? More and more people are finding out that very thing.
Back in 1987, when the magazine first compiled the billionaires list, only 140 people made the cut. This year 1,226 people can claim a net worth of ten figures. See? From a sheer numbers perspective, becoming a billionaire is getting easier all the time, though with a world population of over seven billion, no one should make the mistake of thinking it’s easy.
For those who have set this particular financial goal, we’ve put together a three step guide to achieving it. Here goes.
1. Be born American: Sure, we’re a bit biased, but if you want to eventually reach the billionaires club, your odds are greatly increased if you happen be American. A full 451 (more than 1/3) of the names on the Forbes list call the United States home. Taking a look at the top ten, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), and Larry Ellison (Oracle) hail from America. After that, it’s all over the map: France, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, Mexico. That last entry might be surprising to some. Carlos Slim Helu managed to sneak past the Microsoft ex-chairman into the top spot. Don’t feel too sorry for Bill, though. He’s still doing alright in second place with a net worth of $61 billion. Let’s review. Your first step to reaching billionaire status is to either be born in America or get here as quick as you can.
2. Choose your industry wisely: Sure, there are billionaires on the list who have gotten there selling such diverse products as yoga pants or energy drinks, but your best bet when it comes to choosing an industry is far and away investments. From here it gets interesting when you compare global billionaires versus American. In the rest of the world minus the U.S., fashion and retail occupy second place with real estate landing in third. It’s a different story in the United States. Over here fashion and retail dip to seventh and real estate checks holds the eighth spot. Of the 90 technology billionaires around the world, a full 57% of them come from America. The bottom line is this – if you’re rising through the ranks here, it could pay off handsomely to keep your nose in the tech sector. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook did and it seems to be working out okay for him.
On a side note, while investments still hold the top slot among billionaires, MBA students seem to be moving away from finance, and who can blame them? Recent scandals and bailouts in this industry have shaken the faith of many of the best and brightest new business minds. A quote from Forbes.com:
“There’s definitely a movement among my MBA students – and among MBA students in general – a little away from finance, which has been somewhat compromised by the crisis and by Dodd-Frank,” says Steven Kaplan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “We’re seeing big winners in technology. Finance isn’t going away, but I think finance probably peaked in 2007.”
3. Follow Your Passion: Such boring advice, right? Do you think people like Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs had incredible fortune as their driving goal? Probably not. These were productive, creative people who believed they were contributing something to society. To find and pursue something with this sense of purpose can yield extraordinary results. Once again, no guarantees, but even if you don’t quite reach a ten figure net worth, but are doing what you love, that’s worth something right?
In closing, remember when it used to
be a big deal to be a millionaire? Now it seems everyone and their pet squirrel can make that claim. One thing’s for sure – it ain’t what it used to be. And with prospect of runaway inflation in the near future, who knows, becoming a billionaire in the future might be within everyone’s reach. The only problem is that we just might need that billion bucks to buy a loaf of bread down at the corner grocery store. It could happen. It’s actually called hyperinflation and might make billionaires of us all.
The Young Wealth Team
Flickr / Esparta