How Long It Took Billionaires to Earn Their First $1 Million

Everyone has to start somewhere.

While the modern fortunes of people like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates seem stratospheric in size, even the world’s richest self-made billionaires had to crawl before they could walk.

After all, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins writes, the journey to becoming ultra-wealthy hinges on earning that very first $1 million – the initial pillar of wealth that helps provide the security and confidence to go all-in on later ventures and investments.

The Typical Journey

Today’s infographic comes to us from Slotsia, and it compares the timelines of the wealthiest self-made billionaires showing how long it took them to each earn their first $1 million.

As it turns out, joining the Two Comma Club is rarely an overnight endeavor.

On average, it took about eight years to get to the $1 million mark, with the most common age for hitting the milestone at age 36, and business ventures being the top source of this wealth.

Milestone Time, by Years

Of the top 100 billionaires on he planet, 65 of them are self-made – and here’s how long it took each of them to earn their first $1 million:

Impressively, about 25 self-made billionaires, including people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Ma, and Wang Jianlin, were able to make this initial fortune in under five years.

Meanwhile, other founders like Phil Knight of Nike, took 16 years to hit the mark.

Milestone Time, by Industry

While the set of data is limited, here’s how long it took to hit the first million based on industry:

Billionaires in the telecom and tech sectors were the fastest to $1 million, while those in fashion, construction, and manufacturing businesses took much longer to get to the promised land.

Of course, reaching the first financial milestone is only one step in a much longer journey.

For further reading, see how long it took for the world’s wealthiest to make the jump from millionaire to billionaire.