12/13/2010 5:50 PM ET|
How to be a millionaire by age 25
People who have done it tell what it takes -- and how to overcome the perceived obstacles that might be holding you back.
Each year, some Americans make their first million dollars before turning 25, including a few who are still in high school.
Among the traits they have in common are vision, smarts and determination.
A little luck never hurts.
"Young people are just smarter," Mark Zuckerberg, now 26, told a Stanford University audience in 2007. Three years earlier, Zuckerberg had helped launch the enterprise that came to be called Facebook and vaulted him into the ranks of the nation's billionaires.
Here's a look at nine other individuals who were millionaires before they were 25, with some of their advice for achieving success.
Michael Dell, now 45, earned his first million at age 19. Dell dropped out of the University of Texas shortly after starting a computer company that sold directly to consumers, at prices lower than retail rivals could match.
His advice for young entrepreneurs: "You've got to be passionate about it," he said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement. "I think people that look for great ideas to make money aren't nearly as successful as those who say, 'OK, what do I really love to do?
Catherine Cook, now 20, has been a millionaire for a couple of years. She and her brothers David and Geoff started myYearbook, a social-networking site popular with teens, in 2005, when Catherine and David were still in high school.
Her advice for young entrepreneurs: "Stop just thinking about it and make it happen. When you're young is the best time to start your own business, as you do not have the responsibilities you will have when you're older. The worst that can happen if you fail now is that you have firsthand experience to make your next venture a success."
Sean Belnick, now 23, became a millionaire at 16. He started selling office chairs online, an endeavor that morphed into a company called BizChair.com. Along the way, Belnick earned a bachelor's degree from Emory University's Goizueta Business School.
His advice for young entrepreneurs: "It is never too early to start. . . . There's a lot of great information on the Internet. Just do the research and find a way to do what you want to do."
Jermaine Griggs, now 27, became a millionaire at 23 by pursuing his passion for teaching music. His website, HearAndPlay.com, is designed to help people learn to play piano, guitar or drums by ear, without reading sheet music. More than 2 million students download online lessons each year. Griggs' plans include the launch of brick-and-mortar learning centers, a TV network and a magazine.
His advice for young entrepreneurs: "Understand the power of selling, not just things but yourself and your ideas. Study business. Study those who have come before you and find people with the same dreams and aspirations as you."
Matt Mickiewicz, now 27, made his first million dollars at 22. He was instrumental in the creation of the websites SitePoint, 99designs and Flippa.com. The Internet, Mickiewicz said, gives entrepreneurs instant feedback from consumers, making it relatively inexpensive to test and launch ideas.
His advice for young entrepreneurs: "People who say it takes money to make money are using the worst excuse ever. Create massive value for others by providing a solution where no other exists."
Twenty-one-year-old Juliette Brindak became a millionaire at 19, when the company she co-founded and runs, MissO and Friends, was valued at $15 million.
At 10, Brindak started drawing the "cool girls" cartoon figures that later became stars in her online community for tween girls. Today, she is seeking investors and preparing to take the site public as she attends classes at Washington University in St. Louis.
Her advice for young entrepreneurs: Fill your team with members who believe in your idea. "If someone starts to doubt your company and what you're doing," she said, "you need to get rid of them."
David Hauser and Siamak Taghaddos
David Hauser, now 28, and Siamak Taghaddos, 29, became millionaires four years ago. They met at Babson College and later developed the Grasshopper Virtual Phone System, designed to help entrepreneurs stay in touch with customers, investors or others while on the move. Hauser built the technology and Taghaddos took care of marketing.
Taghaddos' advice for young entrepreneurs: "Success is finding solutions in challenges that help others; money is secondary. . . . Always be on the lookout for new venture opportunities from the voids and challenges you experience in your life."
Cameron Johnson, now 25, launched more than a dozen websites between 1998 and 2004, before he was 20 years old. He was a millionaire before he left high school.
At age 9, Johnson started a printing company making greeting cards from his home. At 12, he made $50,000 selling his sister's Beanie Baby collection (with her permission, of course). Regarded as an entrepreneurial icon in Japan, Johnson hosted a BBC television show last year called "Beat the Boss." He now focuses on writing and guest lectures.
His advice for young entrepreneurs: "Put yourself out there. Get started, do something and start small. The lower your startup costs, the easier it is to find profitability. Create value for others, and you'll be rewarded."
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Catherine Cook only came up with the idea for MyYearbook.com. She had an older brother, Geoff, who had founded two successful websites of his own in the late 90's, invest and assist her in developing her idea for MyYearbook. If it wasn't for her brother Geoff, she would have never been able to create her website, at least while she was still in high school.
Sean Belnick had the good fortune of having a step father who worked in the office furniture industry. With his step father's assistance he started Bizchair.com. Without the connections and knowledge provided by his step father I doubt he would have succeeded as quickly as he did.
Juliette Brindak's mother is a graphic design artist who practically started the business herself after seeing her daughter's drawings. She still runs the business together with her daughter. It was her mother who had the bright idea of creating a brand out of Juliette's drawings.
I'm not trying to put down their businesses. If it wasn't for their original ideas none of these companies would exist, but to give them full credit for what they've achieved isn't right either. Like a few other have already mentioned, these kids had certain advantages that others (young and old) with great ideas themselves don't have.
All I learned from reading this is that every day Mark Zuckerberg is getting dumber....
In many of the stories here, there is an underline story (perhaps not so pleasant) that is not being told that would clearly give the reader the whole truth.
You need the entire truth to truly understand how the success comes about...to connect the dots in a way that makes sense. With the glory there is often much pain and hidden shame only because no one wants to be patient enough to work through "the process." If you cannot make your own success be a part of someone else's.
How does that even happen?
This is the American Dream and should be true no matter your age, race, social class, etc. But if you do not have the motivation to make your life what you want it to be...then you do not deserve success! Make it happen for yourself, don't rely on other "connections" to get you where you want to be.
I think a lot of it comes down to convincing people en masse to buy a product or service to solve a problem they didn't know they had.
Witness Apple. If Steve Jobs got rich, it certainly wasn't because of me. I haven't bought a single Apple Product in my life, I'm 43 years old and I bought my first computer back in 1988 and I've owned computers ever since.
Facebook? Twitter? I've found it to be basically a waste of time. I've found far more interesting ways to social network on the Internet.
I absolutely agree with Vincent860. Sure some people make excuses, but then there are all those people who are trying very hard and who just don't get the success they want. If you are born dirt poor with no education, (the odds) are you will remain that way.
It's not about making the money though.... Follow what you love and success and money will follow??? B.S.
HA! Try telling that to a teacher. They are the most important people in our lives and they get paid nothing. Stop putting value on success in $$$ especially millions of $$$ and put it on other parts of society.
What if everyone one was a millionaire? It wouldn't be a good thing. Unless you're into communism or socialism. But I'm not getting into that.
I am an old guy but I've always wanted to have my own business but I think it's too late for me. Right now I am involved with this marketing business (izigg.com/davo) which I don't have a
clue how to get started. But I agree with some of the comments made that if your young and
are not easily discouraged--you can find something that will work for you.
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