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However, not all millionaires acquired their wealth through the lottery or a brilliant business idea, as we usually imagine. It is possible to become wealthy working for “the man”, says chartered accountant Tom Corley, who recently spent five years researching the rich for his books Rich Habits and Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.
“When most people think about self-made millionaires, they imagine some entrepreneur working around the clock, passionately toiling away in the pursuit of greatness,” says Corley.
“Yet 39 per cent of the self-made millionaires in my study became rich working for someone else,” he notes.
“Saving your way to wealth is the safest way to accumulate wealth. It is also the longest way. It took the average self-made, employee-millionaire in my study 32 years to accumulate their wealth. By assiduously saving 20 to 30 per cent of their income every year and then investing it diligently, they were able to accumulate an average of $ 3.3 million. Most of their investments were in stocks and real estate.”
“Other employees in my study worked for big, publicly held companies in an industry where profit margins were very good or in an industry that was growing. Due in large part to prodigious profits, these employees were beneficiaries of generous stock option or employee stock purchase plans. Because the stock of the companies they worked for continuously appreciated, the stock they received provided the lion’s share of their compensation packages and made them rich.”
“The sales force is the engine of growth for most companies. Big companies rely on their salespeople to grow their revenue, so they often receive commissions in addition to their base wage. The best salespeople get the biggest commissions and can become extremely wealthy selling products or services for their employer.”
Put in the hours
They worked an average of 51 hours per week, and 44 per cent began their work day three hours earlier than other employees within their company.
Developed a niche within their company
“They had some unique expertise within their firm. There were typically niches others avoided because they involved more work, were fraught with obstacles or required an enormous investment in time to get over the learning curve.”
Were tight with decision-makers both inside and outside of their company
“They forged strong, professional relationships with senior executives within the company and with senior executives in other companies within their industry. They also volunteered at the same charity or non-profit senior executives in their company were involved in.”
Took on additional responsibility
“They sought out projects that enabled them to learn new skills or develop existing skills and enabled them to work with other senior people within their organization, which ended up showcasing their skills, knowledge and work ethic to others within the company they did not work with day to day.”
Patience and persistence
“They were patient and persistent in pursuing promotions. While others who were passed up for promotions left the company to get what they thought they deserved, the employed self-made millionaires stuck it out until they got their promotion.”
“They made a habit of being upbeat and optimistic and made a habit of never losing their temper. This put others they worked with at ease. Because people liked working with them, they were the first ones to receive the promotions.”
“Most gossip is negative. Good gossip is when you make a habit of saying only positive, nice things about others within the organization when they are not around. Good and bad gossip always has a way of finding an audience. Self-made millionaire employees developed a reputation of saying nice things about others. As a result, they were well-liked and trusted by others.
“Overall, working for someone else takes most of the risk out of the pursuit of wealth. You don’t have to worry about working capital needs, profitability, meeting payroll or expenses like business owners do. You can focus on one thing: your job. From my research, the key is finding a company to work for in an industry that is prospering and growing. These companies pay their employees generously and are often publicly held companies whose stock is listed on some stock exchange.