5 Billionaires And How They Made Their First Million

Think about how hard it is to make $100,000. Even if that’s your annual salary, all of the taxes and expenses that you have will make your net worth far less than that. Now think about how much it would take to do that ten times over and officially become a millionaire. That’s the goal that a lot of people have, but for many, the goal is astronomically higher.

To become a billionaire, you have to become a millionaire 1,000 times over. Every billionaire got their start somewhere, and it’s usually the first million that meant the most to them and allowed them to shoot for the stars. Here’s a look at five of the world’s most notable billionaires and how they made their first million.

Richard Branson

Nobody took advantage of the old forms of music media quite like Richard Branson, who started the Virgin brand back in the early 1970s and saw it transform into megastores and even transportation throughout the years. 

When he was just 16 years old, Branson started a magazine called “Student” after his initial idea of selling Christmas trees didn’t pan out. The magazine sold well enough to earn Branson some revenue from advertising space, but it was what it turned into that made Branson rich. He used the magazine to start a mail-order business, selling music records for less than stores were charging. Soon enough, Branson started his own record shop and, thus, Virgin was born.

Elon Musk

Some billionaires are perfectly content with running operations while receiving no public attention, but not Elon Musk. The South African-born Musk is the founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla, two cutting-edge companies that have received global attention.

Musk had multiple business ventures during his teenage years, which even included selling the rights to a video game he developed for $500. It wasn’t until he received a loan of nearly $30,000 from his father that he was able to hit it big, starting the company Zip2 which served as an online city guide. Musk founded the company with his brother Kimbal Musk and Greg Kouri, with Elon making $22 million when the company was sold to Compaq in 1999.

Mark Cuban

One of the most accessible billionaires in the world, Mark Cuban is known for his time on the television series “Shark Tank” and his ownership of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Cuban also started the Cost Plus Drug Company that took the internet by storm.

Cuban always had a mind for business from his childhood when he was selling everything from stamps to garbage bags. Cuban worked several jobs in early adulthood and eventually started his own company called MicroSolutions. The business created a lot of technologies that are still used today, and revenues were large enough for Cuban to earn $6 million from the company’s sale to CompuServe. In turn, he was able to launch Audionet and which would make him incredibly rich.

Jeff Bezos

You can’t take three steps in any direction or make three clicks on the internet without running into Amazon. The man behind the company is Jeff Bezos, who has often found himself at the top of list of the world’s richest people.

Bezos wasn’t exactly poor due to his experience in finance in his 20s but still needed money to help boost Amazon after its creation in the mid-1990s. After receiving $300,000 from his parents, Bezos launched Amazon but was losing money at first just to get its name out there. It wasn’t until 1997 that Bezos became a millionaire after the first Amazon initial public offering in 1997.

Steve Ballmer

These days, Detroit-native Steve Ballmer is known for being the owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers after retiring, but he’s made billions thanks to his innovations in software and was the face of Microsoft for more than a decade.

By the time the 1980s rolled around, there were only a couple of dozen employees at Microsoft. Ballmer became the 30th after he had dropped out of Stanford graduate school and left Procter & Gamble. Speaking of gambling, Ballmer risked his career by making the move, but his devotion to Gates and Microsoft paid off. In 2000, Ballmer became the company’s CEO and in 2003 sold most of his shares that earned him nearly $1 billion in one transaction.

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