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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.




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.


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,
  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?


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

Why CloudApp needs to be in your business toolkit

(EDITORIAL) CloudApp is simple yet powerful for any sized business, keeping your productivity at an all-time high.




Are you fed up of screenshotting something and taking the time to drag it into a Slack window to share with an employee for them to ask you what you meant by this. Well, so was I. Working remotely occasionally has its blunders when it comes to communication, the struggles of explaining what you meant without the need to meet via a video call or jump over to another person’s desk can sometimes be a tricky situation to be in.

This is the same for in-office situations too. There’s been plenty of times in an office where I’ve had to break my own workflow or someone else’s to head over to their desk to visually explain something. A potentially useful period of time.

A few weeks ago, this pretty much came to a stop. After receiving two emails during a week in October with two types of link attachments, I was curious what they were. Clicking into these links, I got a visual demonstration of what the person was speaking about. I was so impressed. From a screen demo of a website to how something worked and what buttons to click to get a desired outcome. I was blown off my feet.

Simple as it was, the app is called CloudApp. Both available on Windows and Mac, CloudApp’s primary goal was allowing users to capture these moments like a screenshot or a screen record to help explain the thing in front of you, with little worries. The magic didn’t stop there, once I started playing with CloudApp, I recorded a short demo of a site bug/issue that we had and instantly I heard a “ping”. The recording was captured and ready in a paste-able link.

Within seconds, I sent over the visual demonstration. Dead simple, hugely effective.

By the end of the working day, I had visually explained 98% of things in Slack conversations, emails, mobile texts and even to those I was sitting near. It was a crazy addition to my Mac and productivity across my day and it didn’t stop there.

CloudApp also did a host of beneficial things like allow you to annotate images or screenshots, create GIFs, upload files and even record webcam videos too to support your screenshots.

I would recommend CloudApp to everyone. I was so impressed with their toolkit.

The freemium account is great too. You get unlimited screenshots and annotation with 15s of GIF and screen record creation, which was so reasonable for someone getting started. There are additional pricing options too. CloudApp is available for Mac and Windows and is well worth installing to take full advantage of visually explaining things to friends, colleagues, and those struggling to get a drift of what you are trying to talk about.

Download CloudApp for Mac and Windows.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to determine your freelance rates based on data, not your gut

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Setting freelancer rates can be quite the tricky business. This tool does arms you with the data you need to grow your business



freelance rates

The bulk of my professional career has been spent as a freelancer. The designation of “freelancer” has taken me on an interesting path that allowed for projects and opportunities I didn’t even know existed.

While I’m grateful for each and every opportunity, I now look back on some of these experiences and realize that I was vastly underpaid. For the most part, this is my fault as someone paying for a service is looking for the lowest possible rate and I never bothered to bargain out of fear of losing the role.

It was even at a point where I dreaded being asked my hourly rate because I didn’t know what the norm was. There was always a fear of charging too much and getting dropped for someone cheaper, or charging too little and looking inexperienced.

We recently talked about knowing your worth and how we freelancers often under charge for our services. Luckily, as this career path becomes more and more popular, there are now more resources devoted to helping us know what to charge.

Such a resource comes in the form of Freelance Rates Explorer. Created by Bonsai, this online tool gives users the ability explore rates from 40,000 freelancers worldwide.

“There are many sites like Glassdoor that offer salary data comparisons for full time employees,” said the tool’s developers. “However, there isn’t a site like this dedicated to provide insights on freelancers rates. We had this data, so we built the Rate Explorer to make it easy for freelancers to compare their rates in the largest publicly available rates database on the Internet.”

In order to find the standard rate for their field, users will input their role (either development or design), their skills (full stack, front-end, back-end, DevOps, iOS, and Android), experience (in years), and location. The Rate Explorer then generates a bar graph based on the answers and will show the most common hourly rates based on the number of freelancers and the rates range.

Bonsai also offers proposals, contracts, time tracking, invoicing and payments, and reporting. All of this is designed for freelancers.

As for the Rates Explorer, seeing the numbers calculated right in front of you may make you realize that you’re vastly underselling yourself. This tool can be especially beneficial to use now as we go into a new year and may be updating contracts.

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Business Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs: You’re unemployable in your own company, must define your role

(ENTREPRENEURS) Once you’ve built a successful business, it’s time to reexamine your role and determine where you fit in best.




In my experience, most entrepreneurs are “accidental entrepreneurs.” They happened to be good at something, or they had a unique one-time opportunity to provide a product or service to the market. Then years later, they wake up one day and realize that they’re running a big business.

As an entrepreneur, one of the unintended consequences of building a business is that you become essentially unemployable within your own organization. After living the life of freedom, flexibility and responsibility of being a business owner, it’s difficult to go back to a “nine-to-five” job. This is why many entrepreneurs don’t enjoy staying with their businesses after they’ve sold to other organizations. Within months, they are frustrated that they’re no longer in control and the new owners are (in their opinion) making poor choices.

I see many situations where entrepreneurs are bad employees in their own organization. In fact, they may be the worst team members in the organization by having inconsistent schedules or poor communication skills and/or by inserting themselves into areas that aren’t useful. They can also have too much freedom and flexibility. And while most entrepreneurs insist on clearly defined roles, expectations and goals for all of their employees, they don’t always take the time to define their own roles, expectations and goals.

So why do entrepreneurs become bad employees?

I believe that it’s because they don’t have someone holding them accountable. Think about it: Who do they report to? They’re the owners. Part of the definition of “owner” is being accountable for everything but not accountable to anyone. Having a board of directors, a peer group or a business coach can provide some accountability for them, but another solution is to clarify their roles in the company and then abide by those definitions.

If you find yourself “unemployable” in your business, it’s time to define your role. It starts with outlining your main focus. Do you concentrate more on day-to-day execution or strategic, long-term decisions? Do you consider yourself an owner-operator or an investor?

Most entrepreneurs start as an owner-operator and put in countless hours of sweat equity doing whatever needs to be done to build the business. But over time they reinvest earnings in the business and hire a management team so they can step back and take on a more strategic role. Sometimes it’s not clear when the entrepreneur makes that transition, which can lead to challenges for the entire team.

Focus: Strategic Overview

If your main role is in dealing with long-term, strategic decisions, then it’s important for you to communicate that to the team. Clearly delegate tactical roles and responsibilities to the leadership team.

I’ve seen many instances where owners do more harm than good by haphazardly injecting themselves into tactical decisions that should be handled by the leadership team. Instead of jumping in when they see something they disagree with, I encourage owners to actively “coach” their leadership team to be better leaders. The approach of micromanaging every decision of others will frustrate everyone and lead to an underperforming organization.

I have one client that decided his role was to build strategic relationships and work on a new service offering. He was confident that his leadership team could handle the day-to-day operations of the business. Over time he discovered that being in the office every day was actually a distraction for him and his team. So, he moved his office out of the building.

To maintain his ownership responsibilities to the company, he scheduled one afternoon a week to physically be in the office. Team members knew they could schedule time with him during that weekly window when he temporarily set up office space in a conference room. Not having a permanent office in the building also sent a message to the team that he was not responsible for day-to-day decisions. Sometimes not having an office in the building is better than the team seeing the owner’s office empty on a regular basis.

Focus: Day-to-Day Execution

If you decide that your role is in the day-to-day execution of the business, then clearly define your role in the same way you would define any other team member role. Are you in charge of marketing? Sales? Finance? Operations? Technology? R&D? Or, some combination of multiple roles? Take the time to outline your responsibilities and communicate them to the team.

Just as you define your role, also define what you are NOT going to do and who is responsible for those areas. After all, sectioning off some tactical work does not abdicate you from long-term decision-making. You must set aside time to make the long-term, strategic decisions of the company.

Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous to those that haven’t done it, but ultimately, the owner is accountable for everything that happens in their organization. It can be quite sobering. And while some entrepreneurs have a delusional belief that they can do everything in a company, it’s not a path to long-term success.

All entrepreneurs have to decide what their role should be in their organization – even if it means that they’re contributing to their “unemployable” status.

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