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Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Be a Millionaire by Age 25

Wish you were as wealthy as this guy? He's Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, and his super-geek-to-billionaire story is the basis of the hit movie The Social Network. "Young people are just smarter," he told a Stanford University audience in 2007. He started Facebook from his Harvard dorm in 2004 as a sophomore. Now he's a 26-year-old philanthropist, recently donating $100 million to the Newark, N.J., school district.

Zuckerberg's youthful fame and fortune makes for a riveting tale. But across America every year, plenty of entrepreneurs make their first million under the age of 25, some in high school. It takes vision, smarts, determination and a little luck. Here are eight of them, along with their advice for achieving prosperity.

Age now: 45
Title/Company: Founder and CEO, Dell Computers
Made his first million by age: 19

Dell launched his computer company in 1984, just before dropping out of the University of Texas. By selling direct, Dell lowered prices and won over customers. At 24, the company had revenues of $258 million. At last check, his estimated net worth was $13.5 billion.

His advice for young entrepreneurs: "You've got to be passionate about it," he said in an interview with the Academy of Achievement. "I think people that look for great ideas to make money aren't nearly as successful as those who say, 'Okay, what do I really love to do? What am I excited about?' "

Age now: 20
Title/Company: Founder,
Made her first million by age: 18

In 2005, Catherine and her brother founded the social-networking site, which functions like a digital yearbook with pictures, friends and virtual currency called "lunch money." Today, it boasts 20 million members and is one of the 25 most-trafficked Web sites in the U.S.

Her advice for young entrepreneurs: "Stop just thinking about it, and make it happen. When you’re young is the best time to start your own business, as you do not have the responsibilities you will have when you're older. The worst that can happen if you fail now is that you have firsthand experience to make your next venture a success."

Sean Belnick  
Age now: 23
Title/Company: Founder,
Made his first million by age: 16

Belnick's been selling business furnishings online for nearly a decade now, but the recent B.A. graduate of Emory University's Goizueta School of Business still saw value in a college education.

His advice for young entrepreneurs: "It is never too early to start. I started when I was 14. There was a lot of great information on the Internet. Just do the research and find a way to do what you want to do."

Age now: 27
Title/Company: Founder, Hear and Play Music Group
Made his first million by age: 23

Griggs' passion for teaching music evolved into a site that teaches piano, drums and guitar by ear. More than 2 million students download online lessons each year. Griggs' plans include the launch of brick-and-mortar learning centers, a TV network and a magazine.

His advice for young entrepreneurs: "Understand the power of selling, not just things, but yourself and your ideas. Study business. Study those who have come before you, and find people with the same dreams and aspirations as you."

Age now: 27
Title/Companies: Founder, Sitepoint, 99designs and Flippa
Made his first million by age: 22

Mickiewicz, who launched his first company in 1998, points out that the Internet enables immediate customer feedback, making it relatively inexpensive to test and launch new ideas.

His advice for young entrepreneurs: "People who say it takes money to make money are using the worst excuse ever. . . Create massive value for others by providing a solution where no other exists."

Age now: 21
Title/Company: Cofounder/CEO,
Made her first million by age: 19 (Brindak won’t divulge when she earned her first million, but says that her company was valued at $15 million when she was 19)

At 10, Brindak started drawing the "cool girls" cartoon figures who became stars in 2005 of her online community for tween girls. Today, she is seeking investors and preparing to take the site public as she attends Washington University in St. Louis.

Her advice for young entrepreneurs: Find a solid support team who believe in your idea. "If someone starts to doubt your company and what you’re doing, you need to get rid of them."

Age now: 28 and 29, respectively
Titles/Company: Co-founder (Hauser, right); Co-founder, CEO (Taghaddos, left) -- Grasshopper Group
Made their first million by ages: 24 and 25, respectively

Hauser and Taghaddos met at Babson College, where they developed a virtual phone system designed to serve mobile entreprenuers. Hauser built the technology; Taghaddos led the marketing and sales.

Taghaddos' advice for young entrepreneurs: "Education helped polish the inherent entrepreneurs within us. Always be on the lookout for new venture opportunities from the voids and challenges you experience in your life. Success is finding solutions in challenges that help others; money is secondary."

Age now: 25
Title/company: Launched more than a dozen Web sites between 1998 and 2004, before he was 20 years old
Made his first million: before graduating high school

At 9, Johnson started a printing company making greeting cards from his home. At 12, he made $50,000 selling his sister's Beanie Baby collection (with her permission, of course). Regarded as an entrepreneurial icon in Japan, Johnson hosted a BBC television show last year called "Beat the Boss." He now focuses on writing and guest lectures.

His advice for young entrepreneurs: "Put yourself out there. Get started, do something and start small -- the lower your startup costs, the easier it is to find profitability. Create value for others, and you’ll be rewarded."

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