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At what age did these top 21 entrepreneurs became billionaires?

Being an entrepreneur is hard. Long hours, no pay in the beginning, and endless miles of stress. But, if you stick with it, the rewards make it all worthwhile.

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Going from millionaire to billionaire

So many entrepreneurs struggle with doubt. You wonder if you’re measuring up to your competitors. You feel like success isn’t coming fast enough. You have days where you wonder if you wouldn’t be better off going back to work for someone else. While, worrying and wondering are human nature, it’s equally important to reassure yourself that you know do know what you’re doing. Everyone has those doubtful days, but by and large you know you’re winning at this entrepreneur thing and you need to reassure yourself that you’ve got this thing nailed down.

Entrepreneur recently covered 21 highly successful entrepreneurs, including how long it took them to go from millionaire to billionaire. I feel like this is important. Not to celebrate the increase of income, or the almighty dollar, but rather to demonstrate that sometimes you have to keep your nose to the grindstone for years to see a tangible, financial payoff for all your hard work. On those days when you’re feeling down, consider it took Alan Sugar, founder of British electronics company, Amstrad, 44 years to go from millionaire to billionaire.

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Entrepreneurs that never gave up

Here are 21 entrepreneurs (plus a bonus) who kept their noses to the grindstone and didn’t give up on themselves:

  1. Judy Faulkner, Founder and CEO of Epic Systems: millionaire at 47, billionaire at 70. That’s 23 years in between, not counting the amount of time she spent before hitting millionaire status.
  2. Sir Alan Sugar, Founder of Amstrad: millionaire status at 24, billionaire status at 68. That’s an epic 44 years of hard work to get where he wanted to be.
  3. James Dyson, Inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner: millionaire status at 47, billionaire status at 62. Dyson gave a solid 15 year effort before his efforts paid off in a more tangible way.
  4. Geore Soros, investor: millionaire at 47, billionaire at 62. Again, a solid 15 years of hard work before seeing those results and this doesn’t measure the amount of work he put in before age 47.
  5. Martha Stewart, author and television personality: millionaire at 45, billionaire at 58. Although Stewart is no longer a billionaire, she worked 13 years building from millionaire to billionaire.
  6. Warren Buffett, investor: millionaire at 30, billionaire at 56. Another long stretch of keeping your nose to the grindstone; 26 years in Buffet’s case.
  7. George Lucas, filmmaker and founder of Lucasfilm & ILM: millionaire at 34, billionaire at 52. It took Lucas a surprising 18 years to push himself into billionaire status.
  8. Carlos Slim, investor: millionaire at 25, billionaire at 51. It took 26 years for Slim’s investments to pay off.
  9. Oprah Winfrey, media proprietor, producer, and talk show host: millionaire at 32, billionaire at 49. Even with Oprah’s celebrated success, it took 17 years for her to get to billionaire status.
  10. Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle: millionaire at 42, billionaire at 49. Ellison’s journey was a bit shorter at only 7 years, but it still takes time to push yourself to where you want to be.
  11. Denise Coates, founder of Bet365: millionaire at 38, billionaire at 47. Taking 9 years to get to billionaire status.
  12. Zhou Qunfei, founder and CEO of Lens Technology: millionaire at 33, billionaire at 45.
  13. Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Chairwoman of HP, Inc., and former President and CEO of eBay: millionaire at 40, billionaire at 42. Whitman’s legacy nearly rivals Zuckerberg, proving that sometimes tangible success comes quickly, but most of the time you have to work for it.
  14. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group: millionaire at 23, billionaire at 41: between his record and airline companies it took Branson nearly 18 years to see his hard work pay off.
  15. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx: millionaire at 29, billionaire at 41. Blakely owns 100% of her company; perhaps this is one reason why she achieved billionaire status in 12 years.
  16. Elon Musk, co-founder of Zip2, PayPal, and Tesla; founder of SpaceX: millionaire at 27, billionaire at 41. Taking 14 years, Musk’s billionaire status is attributed to the rise of Tesla stock.
  17. Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and ‘shark’ investor on the TV series Shark Tank: millionaire at 32, billionaire at 40. Taking only 8 years, Cuban’s billionaire status in attributed, in part, to the selling of his second company, Broadcast.com.
  18. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon: millionaire at 33, billionaire at 35. Bezos owns 48% of Amazon and the rapid rise of Amazon’s stock value made him a billionaire in only two years.
  19. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft: millionaire at 26, billionaire at 31. Gates’ billionaire status is attributed to rapid rise in Microsoft’s stock value. He was the youngest billionaire at the time (1987).
  20. Larry Page, co-founder of Google: millionaire at 25, billionaire at 30. Retaining joint majority ownership, Google IPO makes Page and co-founder Brin billionaires in only five years.
  21. Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat: millionaire at 23, billionaire at 25. Spiegel’s billionaire status is directly related to the value of Snapchat’s stock.

Bonus: Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook: millionaire at 22, billionaire at 23. You read that right. It only took a year for Zuckerberg to become a millionaire making him the youngest self-made billionaire in history. You’ll notice the shorter amounts of time are the exception, not the rule.

While we’d all like to be millionaires, it doesn’t matter if you never reach millionaire status. As long as you’re doing what you love and making enough money to keep a roof over your head, you’re doing just fine. Really. Is there anyone else you’d like to see on this list?

#Entrepreneurs

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Business Entrepreneur

Small businesses angry at depletion of COVID-19 relief funds without warning

(ENTREPRENEUR) Small businesses are in shock when they find out COVID-19 relief funds are no longer available, with an email update from the SBA.

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Small businesses are no longer offered EDIL loans from the SBA.

In May, the Small Business Administration (SBA) sent out an update to borrowers of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for COVID-19 relief. The EIDL program is now out of funds, according to an email sent to borrowers.

The loan program formally closed back in December 2021, but there was a period when small businesses who had already received funding could request additional money. That period is now officially over, and the $345 billion that was allotted for COVID-19 relief is gone.

The impact of EIDL

Many owners and entrepreneurs are outraged and frustrated with the lack of transparency from the SBA. There was no warning that the funds were almost depleted and many businesses were relying on that loan money to keep their businesses afloat as the economy rebounds. However, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman praised the program,

“The SBA has delivered historic economic relief to millions of America’s small businesses through the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan program…”

According to an SBA press release, over $390 billion in aid was distributed to nearly 4 million businesses.

Small businesses still need help

In May, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), told health ministers that COVID-19 and its effects are not over. Here in the United States, life seems to be getting back to normal, if you discount the horrific inflation and gas prices, which are further impacting the recovery of small businesses.

Congress has been wrangling with legislation (H.R. 3807) that would offer more funding for those that were hit hard due to covid. Getting the House and Senate to agree on this legislation is expected to be difficult. So, no guarantees that more help is coming.

The SBA recommends that businesses who need more resources contact their local SBA office. Virtual appointments can be made for those who wish to avoid contact.

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Business Entrepreneur

Regularly update your succession plan – it isn’t for setting and forgetting!

(ENTREPRENEUR) You may think that once you have a succession plan in place, you’re set for life, however, it’s recommended to continually update them!

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We’ve written before about how the everlasting success of the business will need to outlive you, and this is best conjured up in a succession plan. This is especially true for small business owners and entrepreneurs that have built an empire for themselves but aren’t sure what the future will hold beyond their passing. This is the exact reason that succession plans shouldn’t be set and forgotten, but instead consistently updated.

What are some of the obvious reasons that you may need to update your succession plan?

  1. Health Issues
  2. Marriage or Remarriage
  3. Changes in health in executors or guardians
  4. Changes in the law
  5. Changes in Residence

Now, for the not-so-obvious reason: It should be updated when any personal circumstances changes, which most likely happen often. This is why a will is like your home, an investment that needs to be properly maintained, and if it is, it will last a very long time.

Examples include changes in economic or parental status, as well as designations or fiduciaries. Elders could be aging, siblings may be having their own life changes, as well as if any dependents are born with or develop special needs.

“Every state has different laws regarding the administration of a will,” he said.?“For instance, states vary regarding the required residence of an executor, inheritance tax laws, and whether a child can be disinherited by omission.”

The recommended procedure is to review wills and powers of attorney at least every five years.

Lastly, when should a will update to a trust?

  1. When you have some significant assets (more than $500,000) in your own name.
  2. If you have special needs beneficiaries.
  3. If you have properties in multiple jurisdictions (multiple states or even counties).
  4. If you have beneficiaries you want to control distributions to (e.g., distribute at ages 25/30/35).
  5. If you have kids from a previous relationship you want taken care of.
  6. If you may want asset protection (special trust needed).
  7. If you are a big dog (over $22M if married), to save taxes.

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Business Entrepreneur

Should your severance agreements include confidentiality clauses?

(ENTREPRENEUR) Confidentiality clauses and NDAs have long been tied to severance agreements – but is that notion becoming outdated?

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Severance agreements and their ilk have long included confidentiality clauses, often comprising an exhaustive list of actions former employees may not take should they desire to keep the benefits listed in the agreement. Carey & Associates P.C.’s Mark Carey breaks down the knowledge you’ll need to successfully incorporate a severance agreement – including a stern warning about the future of confidentiality clauses.

There is a long list of things you’ll need when curating a severance agreement, but we’ll start with Carey’s honey-do-nots.

Carey’s primary recommendation is avoiding a non-compete clause where, previously, there wasn’t one.

“As employment lawyers, we see this tactic used every day, but you do not,” he says.

This is because most employment lawyers will advise that a non-compete agreement is largely unenforceable, which sets a poor precedent for an otherwise airtight document.

Carey even recommends against reviewing prior non-compete clauses for the same reason.

He also eschews what he calls the “21 days to sign – or else” philosophy, and he advises that employers should loop themselves into the non-disparagement clause so that employees cannot be blacklisted – something he refers to as “a very real phenomenon.”

What a severance agreement should include is a non-admission provision, a payment provision, a release of all claims to cover any feasible scenarios regarding employee disclosure, a challenge to agreement, a “no other amounts are due” section to release the employer from future responsibility, and a mandate to return any company property. This is a truckload of information, so you’ll want an employment lawyer to help you through the process.

But what Carey warns against is the future of confidentiality agreements, or NDAs. While these provisions have long accounted for employee silence in the face of abusive or corrupt employers, Carey posits that, one day, “confidentiality provisions in employee severance agreements will be banned as a matter of statute and public policy.”

This assertion comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the uncovering of the manner in which powerful people were using NDAs to buy silence from the people who suffered under their direction. Carey points out that it’s a non-partisan issue; corruption isn’t aligned with one specific political party, and the option to come forward with allegations of misconduct is a courtesy that should be afforded to all.

Whether or not confidentiality agreements are ethical is a moot point, and Carey does recommend continuing to use them when necessary – but, sooner or later, one can safely assume that the landscape of severance agreements will change, arguably for the better.

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