Read some interesting tips on how to be a billionaire on a recent BA flight in their Business Life magazine. The article was based on a book called The Self-Made Billionaire Affect, by Mitch Cohen and John Sviokla of PWC.
1. Be distinctive, not different
You might think the best way to be a billionaire is to create a whiz-bang, disruptive new business model. Well, it seems not. "80% of self-made billionaires made their mark in mature, competitive markets", according to the authors. "They tended to come up with a variation of a business model or existing product that pleased the consumer". In other words, they focused on being distinctive, not totally different. Examples quoted of this approach include Starbucks improving the coffee shop and Spanx shaping pants.
2. It's NOT a young man's/woman's game
For an old fart like me it was nice to hear that whilst there are some annoyingly young self-made billionaires, this an exception not the norm. Most billion-dollar businesses take over ten years of slog to reach that value, and "the vast majority were in their thirties and forties when they started on their journey", according to the authors. So, if you're in your 30's or 40's, it is definitely not too late!
3. Don't understand the consumer. BE the consumer
The article echoed a theme I've posted on before, about many successful entrepreneurs starting out by trying to solve an issue that they cared about personally. "They had in their own minds, observed a need that wasn't being met." For example, I posted here about the founders of boutique travel business Mr & Mrs Smith. They got frustrated at not being able to find a nice boutique hotel to stay in, finding that the places they did use rarely lived up to expectations. They used this personal "pain point" as the inspiration to create their own guide.
4. Patience and stamina are key
The self-made billionaires studied by Cohen and Sviokla "Had an urgency to continually perfect, grow and test their product or service. They also had patience to wait for a market to evolve". This is something I really believe in. Any level of success as an entrepreneur relies a lot on having stamina and resilience. And this is linked to point 3 above, pursuing an opportunity you are personally passionate about.
5. Be brave enough to leap
The last point in the article is perhaps the most important. Loads of people love to sit around talking about their idea for a new business and how much they hate the rat race of their 9-5 (or often 5-9) life. The successful entrepreneurs are the ones with the courage to make the leap into the unknown and start their own business.
In conclusion, if you have an idea you are passionate about and are brave enough to leap into the unknown, why not go for it? You never know where it might lead you...