Forbes March 2012 list of the world’s billionaires makes for interesting reading.
1 226 individuals from 58 countries are billionaires, and have an estimated combined net worth of US$4.6 trillion.
The United States accounted for the most billionaires (425), while African countries collectively had 18 billionaires.
In terms of geography then, the odds do not seem greatly in favour of African entrepreneurs looking to be counted amongst the world’s richest people. Of more interest to small business owners is the proportion of African billionaires who have created their own businesses and wealth instead of inheriting it or acquiring it through other means.
About nine of the 18 African billionaires on the Forbes list are described as self-made, and have business interests in a diverse range of industries. It is therefore not possible for aspiring billionaires to select specific industries as guaranteed vehicles to great empires and wealth. That only about half the African billionaires are self-made need not be a concern for small business owners. Whilst detailed information is not provided in the report on the origins of all the billionaires and how they made their fortunes, it is conceivable that by applying the lessons that have been shared by self-made billionaires such as Richard Branson over the years, they too can achieve their dreams.
Some of the lessons small business owners would do well to take heed of include:
- building one’s business incrementally and not expecting overnight success;
- being sufficiently aware of one’s political and business environment to recognise when to stay in or pull out certain industries and markets;
- having a mentor or inner circle of trusted advisers (but still making one’s own decisions);
- and employing people with the right knowledge and skills sets to delegate to so that one can focus on high-value, big picture tasks.
Although these lessons may seem generic and not sufficiently detailed for ambitious small business owners, it is worth noting that they are consistent themes in the biographies and other profiles of billionaire and millionaire business owners.
The challenge for small business owners is distilling these lessons and making them relevant to their own context in order to drive success. And of course, believing in themselves and in the possibility of being a dollar billionaire.
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi