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You’re likely asking yourself what it takes to get rich. Not just rich; rich at the highest level. How do you go from broke to a billionaire? Most people might simply want to have a positive cash flow or even a million bucks in the bank. But does a million bucks really cut it these days? I suppose that depends on where you live and what you do.

But billionaires are a different breed. It’s a different world. Spending time with them is more likened to fabled fantasies rather than actual reality. The world truly is their oyster. Now, if you want to get there, or you’re just looking to become a multi-millionaire, there are some strategies that will propel your growth.

In fact, there are five strategies these billionaires have used to go from broke and hopeless, to absolutely on top of the world. If you’re looking to replicate their success, then you need to heed the following strategies and take them to heart. One other thing to keep in mind is that you’re far less likely to attain this type of success without owning your own business.

But if you’re already an entrepreneur or a business owner, then it’s a matter of adapting. Not only do we adapt to survive, but we must also adapt to thrive. Look at the following strategies and see how you can adapt them to your business, or to potentially pivot your business to strike while the proverbial iron is hot in one sector or another.

Most people think that it’s impossible to go from broke to a billionaire. However, it has been done repeatedly. Individuals including Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group, Mike Adenuga of Globacom, Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank, Femi Otedola of Zenon Group, Roman Abromovich,  Francois Pinault, Howard Schultz, Oprah Winfrey, Shahid Khan, Do Won Chang, Ralph Lauren, John Paul DeJoria, Larry Ellison and Mohed Altrad were once flat broke. But they all became billionaires.

How did they do it? First, and foremost, by harbouring the following skills. And second, by wielding one of the five strategies that you’ll find below. As you read the list and the strategies, ask yourself the following questions. How many of these skills am I employing and how can I adapt these strategies to my business today, right now?

  • Leverage an abundance mentality and laser-focus your mindset
  • Become an expert at a business networking
  • Overcome the often-stifling fear of failure
  • Effectively manage your time
  • Create long-term goals and take daily action towards them
  • Never give up no matter how tough things might be
  • Focus the power of your thoughts on the positive over the negative
  • Never look for shortcuts or try to cut corners
  • Understand the underlying principles of sales and marketing
  • Become a fervent brand-builder
  1. Create something that adds an abundant amount of value to the world.

Today, as it’s been for all our recorded history, getting rich entails building and adding an abundant amount of value to the world. The richest and most successful people have added the most value. That’s how real wealth is attained. Find some way that you can add an excessive amount of value to the world. This is not a short-term strategy. This takes time.

But it also involves seizing opportunities as they arise. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard got incredibly rich not by inventing new products, but by improving on existing products. While Patagonia is a giant clothing retailer today, at the age of 50, Chouinard’s company went bankrupt after the fallout from a series of lawsuits. However, Chouinard stayed the course. He added value;  improved on iterations of products to make them better for the environment, longer-lasting, and higher in quality. That’s how Patagonia grew into a behemoth. He added an abundant amount of value.

  1. Create a consumable product that people love.

There are a number of industries in consumable products that are simply taking off like wildfire. From cold-brewed coffee to energy shots and drinks and even electronic cigarettes have become industries that have begun to balloon. Manoj Bhargava, the founder of the 5-Hour Energy Drink, grew his business from a 2003 startup to over $1 billion in sales by 9 years later.

In 2010, Howard Panes was $600,000 in debt and lost his house to a short sale when he entered into the e-cigarettes industry, ramping it up within 18 months to over $100 million in sales. Several years later, after an astounding exponential growth, Japan Tobacco International, a corporate giant with 27,000 employees and $20 billion in annual revenue acquired the company.

With no experience in the industry, Panes, like Bhargava, did what it took to see things through, travelling and living in Shenzhen, China where the company refined its product and delivery systems. Today, as an avid car collector with a near-$15 million collection of rare and exotic hypercars, Panes has become one of South Florida’s wealthiest residents.

John Paul Dejoria, who was not only once broke, but also homeless and living in his car with his son, also did the unimaginable. He created salon-quality products and went door to door to sell them. He focused on quality and he took action every single day. At the age of 36, with a $700 loan and while living in a car with his son, he grew Paul Mitchell Systems into a behemoth, becoming one of the world’s richest persons in the process.

Aliko Dangote became a billionaire as a trader in commodities such as cement, sugar, flour, salt, oil refinery, real estate, and manufacturing, etc. To start his business, he approached his uncle, Sanusi Abdulkadir Dantata for a loan. His uncle eventually gave him a loan of N500, 000 (about $1.7000 in today’s value).  The purpose of the loan was to start importing and selling of an agricultural product in Nigeria. The commodities he traded included sugar, rice, pasta, salt, cotton, millet, cocoa, textile and vegetable oil. His major imports were rice from Thailand and Sugar from Brazil in wholesale quantity and resale in Nigeria for interest. This venture became an immediate success for him and he was able to repay the loan he took from his uncle within 3 months.

  1. Insert yourself as a service provider into a high-growth industry.

We saw AirBnB grow from obscurity and blow-up air mattress rentals on floors into a global behemoth, making its three founders, Brian Chesky, Nathan Biecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, who were all once broke, into billionaires. AirBnB blazed a trail. But they weren’t the first. Vacation rentals had already begun to take off, but VRBO was first. Yet, AirBnB did it better.

The goal? Identify a high-growth industry and become a service provider. Whether that’s vacation rentals, eCommerce, financial services, insurance, virtual reality, chat bots, or any other industry for that matter, insert yourself into the industry by finding a unique way that you can provide the same service, but better, more efficiently and with greater reliability.

You could also find a way you can cater to the rich themselves by building up a service that attracts wealthy individuals. Whether that means renting out exotic cars, private jets, or becoming a global caretaker for the Uber wealthy like Annastasia Seebohm’s Quintessentially Group, find a way you can do something more effectively than everyone else around you.

Kenny Trout, the founder of Excel Communications, achieved his success in the early telecom industry by becoming a long-distance reseller after deregulation took hold, selling over 200,000 franchises using the multi-level marketing model. Trout, who grew up with a dad who worked as a bartender, never had much money. He sold life insurance early on and identified a high-growth industry that he trail-blazed his way into.

Femi Otedola discovered his business instinct very early in life. He started his first company at the age of six that had a plan and name.   “I had my first business at the age of six. It was called FEMCO. I would offer to groom my parents’ guests’ nails. Then, write a receipt and charge them for my service. They paid me too. I always had an interest in the business.”

This early startup under the watchful eyes of his father set him up for an amazing career. In 1985, Otedola graduated from the Obafemi Awolowo University and immediately joined the family business. He took charge of the marketing department of the family printing press. He worked hard, gained experience.

After working for years and consolidating the family business, he ventured out on his own, starting his company, Centreforce Limited that focused on finance, investment and trading.

About five years after he left the family business, Femi ventured into the oil and gas sector. The beginning was humble. From his privileged position as Governor’s son, he had friends who supplied him diesel but there was a change of government after some time. All the privileges stopped and had to find a solution.

The turning point was when he ordered for diesel but was delivered after three days with a broken truck. At that point, Femi saw an opening. He could do better and provide better services. So he decided to venture into the diesel supply business.  He began to purchase diesel from retailers which were then supplied to companies

“I started buying diesel oil from a guy who had control of the market for retail. I soon realized that a lot of companies in the country actually needed diesel oil to run their operations. I once received an order from a big transport company. The banks were closed and I could only offer a cheque. It was my supplier’s biggest customer, but he refused to take a cheque from me. I immediately realized I needed to seek  alternative methods of getting my diesel.”

That disappointment would lead to his major breakthrough in the oil industry. He approached the management of the depot and offered to buy it for $20 million dollars even though it was worth just $4 million at the time. Of course, he didn’t have the money but he had the guts.

He approached Zenith bank and had a conversation with Jim Ovia (The CEO of Zenith bank at the time) for a loan to finance the purchase.

“I contacted Zenith Bank, sold my pitch on the venture and how we would finance it. I had a meeting that barely lasted 10 minutes with Jim Ovia he believed in me and it was a done deal. This was in 2003.”

  1. Find a way to improve communications or connection online.

Mark Zuckerberg became one of the world’s wealthiest individuals by improving connection and communications online. Today, we all know about the success of Facebook. But Zuckerberg was never poor or broke. He hailed from an upper-middle-class heritage.

However, what’s most intriguing is the story of WhatsApp founder, Jan Khoum. In 2007, while working at Ernst & Young, and shortly after the launch of the iPhone, Khoum, who was an immigrant from Ukraine, where he was born, decided to create a communications app with Brian Acton that was released in January of 2010.

Khoum, who had been passed over for a job at Facebook just shortly prior, grew WhatsApp into a wildly popular communications application that was later acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. Like other billionaires, Khoum seized on the news industry and identified an opportunity that others might have missed.

  1. Invest in real estate and grow your portfolio over time.

Real estate has given a platform to the world’s richest individuals. If you think that making money through real estate is impossible, especially if you have no money to start with, then you’ve got a few lessons to learn. Some of the biggest real estate moguls in the world have started with nothing. It’s called wholesaling and creative financing. Once you understand it, it truly can propel tremendous growth.

The goal is to focus on positive cash flow. Like Robert Kiyosaki’s iconic, Rich Dad Poor Dad book and series, discover how to create assets rather than liabilities. Whether you just want to be a millionaire or a billionaire, real estate will give you a solid foundation or platform from which you can grow.

Leon Charney became a billionaire through his real estate investments. But he was the child of two immigrants, and at the time of his father’s death, his family became destitute. He had nothing, and he worked his way through college and through law school.


Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.