In a classic "Saturday Night Live" sketch, actor and comedian Steve Martin once gave the most underrated advice on how to become a millionaire: "First, you get a million dollars." But if that doesn't work for you, try these inspirational ideas from some of the world's most famous self-made entrepreneurs:
- Find a need. Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg urges aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to look for a "problem to solve," rather than trying to figure out what type of business venture will make you the most money. By building your business around something that people are already looking for, you'll automatically have an audience for what you're trying to sell.
- Trust your gut. In a talk she gave at Stanford Business School, self-made billionaire Oprah Winfrey described how, at age 19, while working as a news anchor in Nashville, Tennessee for $10,000 a year, she turned down a $40,000 a year job offer to be a TV news anchor in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though it was an enormous amount of money at the time and seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Oprah said her intuition told her that she wasn't meant to be a reporter. "I was torn between what the world was saying to me and what I felt to be the truth for myself," she said. Oprah got "demoted" to talk show host at the station where she worked, and the rest is history.
- Forget the phrase "That's not my job." College dropout-turned-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and the wildly successful eBay entrepreneur Sophia Amoroso agree: If you're an egomaniac and/or expect to be rewarded without doing any work, you're in for a rude awakening. If you want to get to the top, be ready to work extremely hard and take on tasks you might think are "beneath" you - because they're not. Even millennials have to pay their dues.
- Accept failure. The mantra "Fail better," lifted from playwright Samuel Beckett's work, is a trendy thing to say these days, but what does it really mean? Basically, if you're on the right path, failure is just another step along the way, as long as you don't let it stop you.
- Be of service. Billionaire Tony Robbins, motivational speaker and mentor to the stars, says that the key to getting what you want is helping others, and focusing on their needs above your own. "I really believe it's the secret to not only wealth, but real lasting happiness," he said. "In my soul I believe the secret of living is giving."
- Throw out your idea of what "wealthy" looks like. We envy the extravagant lifestyles of the rich and famous we see on TV, but the reality is that most people who live that way eventually go bankrupt. In his book The Five Lessons A Millionaire Taught Me, Richard Paul Evans explains that most wealthy people are actually very frugal and careful with their money, and don't lead "lives of excess." Re-frame your idea of what it means to be successful, and it just might be closer than you think.
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