How Self-Made Millionaires Make Their Money

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It seems to me that you could save a lot of time, aggravation, money and also limit your risk if you knew what professions, industries or businesses millionaires were in and just focused your energy in those areas. So, what should I do to make money and become rich?

Work For a Big Company

Twenty-three percent of the millionaires in my Rich Habits Study were senior executives at some big company they worked for. When I say big company I mean multinational and preferably one that is publicly-owned. Publicly-owned means they sell stock to the public.

The beauty of working for a big, publicly-owned company is that you don’t have to necessarily be a senior executive to become rich. If the company offers qualified stock options, stock grants or has an employee stock ownership program, you can buy your company’s stock at a discount. These small discounts are not available to the general public.

And, even better, big companies often make matching contributions of their stock into the company retirement plan. So, if you purchase their stock through a 401(k) plan, the company will match your contribution, increasing how much stock you own. Two of the millionaires in my study were low-level employees who kept buying company stock over 35 years. They were somewhat lucky, however, in that their company’s stock rose significantly during those 35 years. As I’ve said many times, becoming wealthy requires luck.

Become an Expert

Twenty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study were professionals. Remember your mother telling you as a child she wanted you to become a doctor? Well, there’s a good reason. Fifty-six percent of all of the professional self-made millionaires in my study were Doctors. What type of doctors? Surgeons and Scientists earned the most money and were the wealthiest, according to my data. Next up were lawyers, then engineers, then financial planners. Sorry to say, only one CPA made the list.

Start a Business

Sixty-one percent of all of the self-made millionaires in my study were small business owners. Of this, 21% were professionals. So, if I were to carve out the professionals, 39% of the small business owners were non-professionals. What type of businesses were these non-professional businesses owners engaged in?

  • 19% Commercial and Residential Real Estate – This category included rental properties, developed property and long-term property held for appreciation and eventually sold.
  • 7% Distributors – These were typically distributors who sold products for big manufacturers. They controlled a regional area, giving them a monopoly on the sale of that manufacturer’s products.
  • 5% New Car Dealers – New car dealers own a franchise that allows them to sell cars for auto manufacturers in a particular region. The set-up is similar to the distributor arrangements.
  • 4% Service and Installation – This includes business who sell HVAC systems, pools and pool supplies and various high end products that require annual maintenance.
  • 3% – Manufacturers – This category includes niche equipment manufacturers and re-manufacturers (refurbishing old equipment).
  • 1% Other – This category includes small businesses within some odd niche.

Sell Something

Eleven percent sold something either for a big company or through their small business. They made their money from product commissions, primarily.


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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Meggie Sophia says:

    What about an online business?

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