Most Rich People Build Their Wealth As Entrepreneurs, Not With Stocks

Most Rich People Build Their Wealth As Entrepreneurs, Not With Stocks

How do most rich people get rich—from shares, real estate, inheritance or as entrepreneurs? If you read the financial press, you might get the impression that the best way to get rich is to invest your money in stocks. However, if you look at the list of the richest people in the world, you will notice that hardly any of the world’s richest billionaires became rich on the stock market.

Most rich people built their wealth as entrepreneurs:

1.   Jeff Bezos became rich as an entrepreneur with Amazon.

2.   Bill Gates became rich as an entrepreneur with Microsoft.

3.   Bernard Arnault became rich as an entrepreneur with luxury brands such as LVMH.

4.   Mark Zuckerberg became rich as an entrepreneur with Facebook.

5.   Warren Buffett became rich as an investor.

6.   Larry Ellison became rich as an entrepreneur with Oracle.

7.   Steve Ballmer became rich as an entrepreneur with Microsoft.

8.   Larry Page became rich as an entrepreneur with Google.

9.   Sergey Brin became rich as an entrepreneur with Google.

10. Amancio Ortega became rich as an entrepreneur with companies such as Zara.

Most Became Rich As Self-Made Entrepreneurs

Of the world’s ten richest individuals, Warren Buffett is the only one who became rich by investing in stocks. However, even he is not a typical stock market investor. For him, stocks are nothing more than a vehicle to make substantial investments in companies.

The list also shows that—with the exception of Arnault—the world’s richest billionaires are all self-made entrepreneurs, not heirs. And the same applies further down the list, too. A majority of the people on the annual Forbes 400 ranking of the richest Americans are also self-made entrepreneurs. Many people think it used to be easier to build wealth as a self-made entrepreneur in the past and that most rich people today inherited their wealth. In fact, the opposite is true:

In 1984, less than half of the names on the Forbes 400 ranking of the richest Americans were self-made billionaires. In 2018, 67% were self-made! This determination is made on the basis of a scoring system in which each billionaire on the Forbes 400 list is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 indicating that the person has inherited their entire fortune and is doing nothing to grow their wealth and a 10 indicating that a person has risen from very simple circumstances to build their wealth against great odds by their own efforts. Anyone who scores between 6 and 10 is classed as self-made rich.

Very Few Became Rich With Stock Investments

A scientific study published in Germany in 2012 surveyed 472 millionaires and showed that only 2.4% built their wealth with stock investments. One-in-ten of the surveyed millionaires stated that they had become rich with real estate investments. As with the Forbes list, however, most became rich as entrepreneurs.

Some might point out that this could, at least in part, be a result of Germany’s underdeveloped stock market culture. But even in the United States, where investing in the stock market is far more common, the situation is no different. Thomas Stanley surveyed 733 millionaires in the United States and only 12% of the millionaires he spoke to said that stocks were an important factor in their financial success. And this is despite the fact that Stanley conducted his survey in the late 1990s, when stock markets in the United States and all around the world were booming like never before! Stanley concluded that although many millionaires do invest in stocks, a majority built their wealth as entrepreneurs, self-employed professionals or senior managers—not with stocks.

For the study The Wealth Elite, in-depth interviews were conducted with 45 German multimillionaires who each had a net worth of between $10 million and several billion dollars. Almost all were self-made entrepreneurs; not a single one had built their wealth with stocks. As an asset class, stocks are a great way to stay rich and, together with real estate, they should be the major building block of any investment portfolio. But for anyone who wants to get rich, the choice is clear: become an entrepreneur.


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