An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or an organization by taking a financial risk.
With financial risk comes a chance to earn financial rewards in terms of profit. Apart from financial gain, entrepreneurs are also motivated by factors like innovation, disruption, making an impact etc.
What makes a successful entrepreneur?. What made the richest entrepreneurs so successful?.
I believe entrepreneurial success depends on the following traits:
- Strategic mindset
- People management skills
- Holding nerve during a downturn
But entrepreneurship isn’t easy & definitely not a recommended career line for the faint hearted ones. Having said that, it does provide an immense opportunity to change the world for a better. Had an entrepreneur not taken a risk then products like social networks, search engines, messenger apps & digital wallets would not have been invented.
With numerous global challenges now, the world needs more & better entrepreneurs. But, unfortunately, entrepreneurship hasn’t picked pace like other professions due to various business factors like increased competitiveness. As per a study conducted by CNN, number of Start-ups in the US had hit a 40-year low in the year 2016.
So, now let us go through a list of top 10 richest entrepreneurs (as per Forbes latest report)
TOP 10 RICHEST ENTREPRENEURS
1. Elon Musk
With a net worth of $ 269 billion, Elon Musk tops the list of richest entrepreneurs. Famously, he's the CEO of the world's largest electric vehicle company called Tesla. Musk became the largest shareholder of Tesla by investing $ 6.5 million dollars in 2004. Tesla was originally founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard & Marc Tarpenning.
Tesla has also got diversified interests in the following ventures:
- Maxwell Technologies (energy storage & power devices/solutions for electric vehicles)
- Tesla Energy (solar energy devices & solutions)
- DeepScale (technology solutions for self-driving vehicles)
- Grohmann Engineering (automated manufacturing solutions)
- Tesla Insurance (insurance services for Tesla vehicle owners)
- Perbix Machine (automated manufacturing devices)
- Tesla Financial Services (finance services for Tesla customers)
Key Facts about Elon Musk
- Net worth: $ 269 billion
- Age: 50 years
- Shareholding in Tesla: 17%
- Education: University of Pennsylvania (Degree in Science)
- Key Designation: CEO of Tesla
- Citizenship: USA, South Africa & Canada
Elon Musk's Success Story
In 1995, Elon co-founded his first successful venture - Zip2 - by borrowing money from his father. Basically, the software company was helping newspapers build their own online directories. Back in those days, the idea was indeed revolutionary. Even The New York Times was one of Zip2's high profile clients. Later in 1999, Zip2 was later sold to Compaq for $ 341 million.
Soon after, flush with cash, Musk started X.com as a fintech company. There was another fintech company called Confinity (founded by the famous investor Peter Thiel) that was competing with X.com. To avoid competition, both these companies decided to merge & create a common brand called "PayPal" which went on the become one of the World's largest money-transfer services. PayPal, in 2002, was acquired by eBay for $ 1.5 billion.
In 2003, an electric car company Tesla was founded by Martin Eberhard & Marc Tarpenning in the US. Elon Musk became the largest shareholder & chairman of Tesla in 2004 by investing $ 6.5 million. In 2008, Musk became the CEO of Tesla. It was the same year when Tesla launched its first car "Roadster" (an electric sports car).
Tesla became public in 2010 & in 2017, Tesla launched its famous Model 3 electric car for mass market. Since then, Tesla has had a phenomenal run on the stock market. Thus, making Elon Musk the richest man on the earth.
In 2022, Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $ 44 billion in an all-cash deal.
Elon Musk's Leadership Principles
- Make a difference
Elon Musk has big goals. He wants to change the world. He wants to make an impact. He craves about making a difference. Therefore, all his ventures are revolutionary - he wants to make self-driving cars, send common people to Mars, solve traffic problems, etc.
Like him, he wants his employees to be ambitious, innovative & think different. As a leader, it's important that your vision & work culture are aligned with that of your team.
For entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, money isn't the main motivator. They care more about the impact of their work. What's the point of being the richest person on earth if you aren't making this world any better?
- Clarity, confidence & focus
Musk is a clear thinker & communicator. If you want to know what I mean - check out his Twitter profile. He's quite active there & shares his thoughts always. Great communicators are always confident & focused.
He likes to hire people who've got these abilities.
- Avoid long & frequent meetings
To improve productivity at Tesla, Elon Musk discourages long & frequent meetings. Long meetings are a waste of time & frequent meetings disrupt the flow of work.
As a rule, meetings are only allowed if the matter is urgent.
- Embrace failure
As an innovator, Musk feels failure is totally cool. If you're afraid of failing, you can't create innovative products - the products that change the game & make a difference.
Elon wants his employees to see failure as an option. This way they'll be able to create path-breaking products & take their organization to a new level.
- Embrace change
Musk feels the only thing constant in our life is change. If we don't change or adapt ourselves, we're doomed for failure.
Changes can be in the form of technology, people, environment, preferences, style, trends etc. We should take changes into factor & adapt ourselves.
- Be Optimistic
A negative mind hasn't ever gone far. If you want to make a difference, you need to be optimistic & think positively always.
Look, business isn't for the faint hearted ones. Every day, you're going to face challenges, failures & negativity. If you're going to get bogged down with these, you aren't going far. All successful entrepreneurs have a strong mindset. They don't let failure define their future.
2. Jeff Bezos
Born in 1964, Jeff Bezos is the founder & CEO of the e-commerce giant called Amazon. With a net worth of $187 Billion, he's second on the list of richest entrepreneurs. He founded Amazon as an online bookstore in the year 1994. After that, there was no looking back for Bezos as he kept adding new categories of products.
Today, Amazon is not only world’s largest online shopping platform but also has diversified interests in many other businesses like:
- Amazon Web Services (cloud computing service)
- Kindle (eBook reading device & service)
- Alexa (cloud voice service)
- Audible (audiobook marketplace)
- Goodreads (community for book readers)
- Twitch (live streaming platform)
- Whole Foods (supermarket chain for organic food products)
- Diapers.com (online retailer for baby products)
- Zappos (online retailer for shoes)
- iMDb (community for movie viewers)
- Amazon Fresh (grocery delivery service)
- Amazon Prime (subscription & streaming service of Amazon)
- Amazon Pay (online payment service)
The aforesaid list isn't complete. Why? Because Amazon, as of today, has 40+ subsidiaries. It isn't feasible list all of them here. So, I only picked & featured the most popular ones.
What an incredible journey! From selling books to selling (possibly) everything on the earth.
Key Facts about Jeff Bezos
- Net worth: $ 187 billion
- Age: 58 years
- Shareholding in Amazon: 10%
- Education: Princeton University (Degree in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science)
- Key Designation: Founder & Chairperson of Amazon (In 2021, Bezos resigned as CEO of Amazon)
- Citizenship: USA
Jeff Bezos's Success Story
After graduating from college in 1986, Bezos first worked at Fitel, a telecommunication company. Thereafter, he joined Bankers Trust. After a short stint there, he joined a hedge fund (DE Shaw & Co.) as a manager & worked there for around 4 years till 1993.
In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon that went on to become the world's largest online retailer. Initially, Amazon was just into selling of books. However, after Bezos took Amazon public through IPO, it quickly started expanding into other products & verticals.
Post IPO, Amazon was struggling to generate profit. Fast expansion meant more cash burn. The bank balance was dwindling. Bankruptcy was looming in the air. The situation was such that Amazon had to lay off a chunk of its workforce. And, it had started vacating its distribution centres.
However, in 2002, Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) that changed the game for Amazon in terms of cash flow & profitability. AWS quickly became popular for its affordable cloud computing services. It actually disrupted an industry in no time.
And, the rest, as we say, is history.
Today, Amazon generates an annual revenue of more than $ 500 billion.
Jeff Bezos's Other Ventures
Apart from Amazon, Jeff Bezos has got diversified interests in ventures like:
- Blue Origin (spaceflight services)
- The Washington Post (the news media company Jeff bought for $ 250 million in 2013)
- Bezos Earth Fund (climate change initiatives)
- Bezos Academy (education for the underserved)
- Bezos Expeditions (venture capital firm)
- Altos Labs (anti-ageing research firm)
Jeff is also an investor in famous companies like Google, Twitter, Uber, Stack Overflow, Basecamp, Behance, Business Insider, etc.
Jeff Bezos's Leadership Principles
- Be obsessed with your customers
Jeff Bezos keeps stressing the importance of customer satisfaction. He keeps reminding his employees to focus on Amazon's customers & not competitors. Competitors will come & go but its the customers who're going to help build Amazon's brand over the long run. Isn't it?
In fact, the vision of Amazon is to be the World's most customer-centric company.
- Take risk, invent & embrace failure
Jeff isn't someone who plays safe. He's known to take risks & isn't afraid of failure. Instead, he's afraid of missing a business opportunity. He's afraid of regret.
Amazon has had its share of failure in the past. But, Jeff has always embraced failure with grace. And, that's what he asks his team to do.
He once said that Amazon is the World's best place to fail. Unless you're aren't afraid of failure, you can't experiment. And, if you don't experiment, you don't invent. So, risks, invention & failure are inter-connected.
- Think long-term & be patient
Rome wasn't built in a day. And, Amazon too wasn't built in a day.
Jeff says that the key to success is thinking long term. And, that of course, requires patience. As I discussed earlier, its patience & the never-give-up attitude that separates a successful entrepreneur from an unsuccessful ones.
- Make your team agile
Jeff coined the famous "Two Pizzas" rule that stated every team should only of a size that can be fed with 2 pizzas. A bigger team will create problems with communication, coordination & decisions.
So, ideally a team of less than 8 people is what Jeff wanted for agility in the organization.
- Take high-quality decisions
Bezos stressed on taking high-quality decisions. The decisions that will help grow your organization in long run.
- Don't use presentation slides during meetings
Jeff didn't like the idea of using presentation slides during meetings. Instead, he instructed his team to come up with a six-page meeting agenda before each meeting. That agenda was a mandatory read for all meeting attendees.
The idea is make everyone come on the same page. Each team member should all crucial facts even before the meeting begins.
3. Bill Gates
Bill Gates is the founder of the PC software firm Microsoft corporation. With a net worth of $97 billion, Gates is at number second on the list. He is widely credited as one of the pioneers who revolutionized the personal computing industry with Microsoft’s operating system ‘Windows’. Started in 1975, Microsoft now has diversified interests in various companies including:
- Microsoft Mobile (Earlier known as Nokia)
- Nuance Communications
He's also involved in various philanthropic projects.
Key Facts about Bill Gates
- Net worth: $ 121 billion
- Age: 66 years
- Shareholding in Microsoft: 1%
- Education: Harvard University (Dropout)
- Key Designation: Co-chairperson of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Citizenship: USA
Bill Gates's Success Story
At the age of 13, Bill Gates was fascinated about coding & its future. He attended Lakeside school where he was tasked with automating the class scheduling system. At 17, he created a software to study the traffic data & help traffic engineers. In 1975, along with Paul Allen, Gates built Microsoft & coded "Altair BASIC" that became popular among computer users.
In 1980, Microsoft struck deal with IBM to create its proprietary operating system for $ 50,000. In the same year, Microsoft launched MS-DOS that was being directly to consumers. And, this changed the game for the company. They started getting recognition in the press.
In 1985, Microsoft launched Windows that revolutionized the personal computing industry. Windows became the default operating system for PCs manufactured by major brands like IBM.
Bill Gates's Leadership Principles
- Failure is a great teacher
Bill Gates feels there's no better teacher than failure. He says success makes people think they can't lose. Of course, you should celebrate success but at the same time learn from your failures.
So, we've another entrepreneur here who preaches the importance of failing.
- Empower others
Nothing great was ever achieved by one single person. To build a long lasting & impactful business, you need to empower your team. Give them authority. Give them responsibility. Give them freedom.
That's how creativity fosters in an organization. Gates was known for his delegation style of leadership which isn't possible without empowering others.
- Learn from your unhappy customers
Bill Gates always advised his team to learn from Microsoft's unhappy customers. Take their feedback & improve the product.
Simple advice. But, most of us don't follow this. Do we? We, as business owners, tend to disagree with our unhappy customers or simply ignore them. Don't do that. Start talking to your unhappy customers & they'll show you what's wrong with your product or service.
- Don't underestimate change
Change is an inevitable part of any business. We need to constantly evolve our product based on the changing business environment.
- Give back to the society
Bill Gates is known for his charity initiatives. Be it health, climate change, poverty or any other social issue - Gates's foundation is at the forefront of the fight.
So, naturally, Gates encourages his followers to contribute a part of their wealth towards charity. Look, life isn't just about money & business. There's no better feeling than having uplift someone's life. Right?.
4. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffet is one of the most successful investors of our time. With a net worth of $82 billion, he is at the number 3 spot on this list. He owns Berkshire Hathaway which owns more than 60 companies including Geico & Duracell. He has pledged to donate 99% of his wealth towards charities.
5. Bernard Arnault
Bernard Arnault is the chairman & CEO of the fashion conglomerate LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods company. With a net worth of $76 billion, he also happens to be Europe’s richest person. LVMH has more than 70+ brands under its belt.
6. Amancio Ortega
Amancio Ortega is the co-founder of Inditex which runs the popular fashion chain Zara. With a net worth $63 billion he is at number 6 on this list. Inditex has 8 brands & operates more than a whopping 7,500 stores across the world.
7. Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison is the co-founder of the software company Oracle. With a net worth of $62 billion, he is at #7 on this list. Oracle is mainly in CRM databases. And, with its recent acquisition of NetSuite, it took a giant leap in cloud computing.
8. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is the famous co-founder & CEO of the social network Facebook. With a net worth of $62 billion, he is 8th on this list (also the youngest). Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has grown leaps & bounds. Recently, Facebook acquired social network & messenger apps called Instagram & WhatsApp respectively. Zuckerberg has pledged to donate 99% of his Facebook holdings towards charity.
9. Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg is the co-founder & CEO of the media giant Bloomberg. As you may be aware, Bloomberg is also a financial services & software company. With a net worth of $ 55 billion, he is at #9 on this list of richest entrepreneurs. He is also a member of ‘The Giving Pledge’ where he has pledged to give away half of his wealth as charity.
10. Larry Page
Larry Page is the co-founder & CEO of Alphabet Inc., the holding company of Google. Apart from being the world’s largest search engine, Google also runs a bunch of popular digital services like YouTube, Maps, Drive, Cloud, Gmail etc. Alphabet is also taking various innovative initiatives in health & smart home appliances sectors. With a net worth of $ 50 billion, he is at #10 on this list.
I believe money isn’t the correct parameter to judge if an entrepreneur (or for that matter even a person) is rich.
At the end of the day what matters is the impact, the social impact.
Anyways, the objective of this post was to list the names of billionaire entrepreneurs in monetary terms.
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