1. Start your own business and eventually sell it. This is the most effective and proven way to become rich. If you can find a new approach to a real customer need and build a profitable business that addresses that need then you have created real value. It could be a cleaning business, a hairdresser’s, a consultancy or an investment bank. It will probably take years of very hard work to build up the enterprise. Most new businesses fail so the risks are high. You need all the skills, dynamism, perseverance and diligence of an entrepreneur. But if you can pull it off the potential rewards are huge. This is how many of the seriously wealthy people did it.
2. Join a start-up and get stock. If you can accumulate equity positions in one or more start-up companies then there is an opportunity for a serious capital gain if the company thrives and either floats or is sold to a larger enterprise. Only a small minority of start-ups succeed in realising large capital gains so the odds are not good. However, you can use your judgement to see which business idea and which management team are likely to succeed. Early employees in Apple, Google and Microsoft became millionaires on this basis.
3. Exploit your skill as a self-employed expert. If you can develop a marketable skill and retain your independence then you can reap considerable rewards. This is how sports stars, authors and entertainers become rich. In general the self-employed expert has greater earnings opportunities than one who works for a company. There are risks and you have to have something special. Your success is in your own hands so this is a popular route for people who have developed a skill and want to strike out on their own.
4. Develop property. Buying, developing and selling property is a well-established way to build a significant capital position. One of the key elements is that by borrowing money you can gain leverage on your investment. Say you borrow $200,000 and put in $50,000 of your own to buy a property for $250,000. Then you develop the property and sell it for $400,000. The property has increased in value by 60% but your $50,000 has now grown fourfold to $200,000. You have to select the right properties in the right areas and develop them wisely. You are at risk from booms and busts in the property market. However, in the long term this remains a proven way to accumulate wealth.
5. Build a portfolio of stocks and shares. If you can make steady investments in stocks over a long period and reinvest the dividends then you can build a large store of wealth. Of course stocks can go down as well as up and many small investors lose heart when their portfolio plunges. But over the long-term equities are as good an investment as property and much more liquid. Stock market crashes represent great buying opportunities for those with cash and strong nerves.