This is the fourth and final post in a series in which I've shared what entrepreneurial millionaires did to create success. The first post can be found here.
I've pulled out key questions and answers from our interviews to give you a snapshot of their path to success. You can read their full stories and the interviews in my book, 21 Questions for 21 Millionaires: How Ordinary People Create Extraordinary Success.
Millionaire 15 Cynthia McKay
Did you have written goals?
No, no written goals at all.
I had no interest in any of this until I saw a need for it. Then I thought, “I can do that, I can do it better.” I was failing to recognize that I totally lacked the basics of everything related to the business. It was really interesting.
Is that perhaps why you succeeded; you didn’t know what to fear?
Exactly. I think at that point in time you need to dispense with everybody’s opinion and just go with your own instincts.
How did your education or the process of your education help prepare you for business ownership?
None of it did.
What makes you in particular successful?
Probably ignorance. I don’t do a post-mortem on everything I’ve done. I forge ahead because I know some ideas are going to work and some are not.
Millionaire 16 Lane Nemeth
Other than that perspective, what has made you successful?
I had a mission. That mission was so overwhelmingly strong that I had to do it. There wasn’t a matter of “nice to do” or “I could do” or “I wanted to”; I had to, so everything that came along that was trying to prevent me I thought, “Get out of my way, you’re not going to stop me.”
Millionaire 17 Bryan Willis
Where does that work ethic come from?
Growing up, probably.
I’m the youngest of 12 children. My dad left shortly after I was born. [My mom] started going to nursing school during the day and did in-home care at nights for an elderly lady. Once she became a nurse, she got a job working at the hospital during the day and still did in-home care on weekend nights and on her days off during the week. She definitely showed us how to work.
What would you say makes you successful?
I don’t think of myself as successful. I don’t even know that I’ve ever tried to define success.
How did you get where you are?
I don’t know why I’ve been as lucky as I’ve been. The only thing I can say is that I have worked hard and as opportunities have presented themselves, where it felt like a good thing to do, where it seemed to make sense, it’s like the plate has been put on the table and I’ve gotten to eat. It’s not that hard to stick a fork in the food and pick it up.
Millionaire 18 Shawn Kane
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I don’t recall. I just wanted to be successful. I saw my parents and they were successful. They worked extremely hard.
We weren’t spoiled, but we knew that if you worked hard, you can pretty much have whatever you want in this world.
Where did you have the confidence to start your business?
With my first contracts I was scared to death.
In the environment that I grew up in, watching my parents work as hard as they did and learning at a young age that if you work hard, sure, you’re going to struggle and there’s going to be obstacles you have to overcome, but it came down to my desire, my know-how.
[Two experiences] shaped where you are today, but at the moment you wouldn’t have known anything about it, would you?
No, not at all. I wouldn’t have even thought twice that I’d be where I was based on 14 years ago.
Millionaire 19 Judith Briggs
You had a quote that I read: “By having education, drive and passion for business, any woman can succeed at anything regardless of the industry.”
Oh absolutely. I am a female in a male-dominated industry.
A couple of years ago when I first hit a million dollars I was invited into the Top Performance Club. Once a year they go on a four-day retreat. I was the only female out of about 22 of us.
I thought about it and said, “It’s because I love what I’m doing. I have the passion. I have the drive and it doesn’t matter that I’m a female.” As long as you have the passion and the drive, you can do anything you set your mind to.
Millionaire 20 Rob Emrich
Did you ever have thoughts of going into business before you entered college?
No, I was pretty against it actually. It was something that I reticently later accepted about myself and my personality, that it was something I was good at and if I could harness the talents I have for that to do it in the right way, then it could still bring me happiness. That’s my goal now.
What made you think that you would be successful and that this would be viable?
I didn’t think of it in terms of, “Could I do this?” I actually felt the opposite; it didn’t feel like I had very much of a choice. At no point in that venture did I consider the question, “Can I?” I just knew that I had to. So that was the attitude that I took, that I had no other choice but to make this work.
That experience was much more difficult than starting the companies I’ve started since then.
Since I was a kid I’ve put myself in a position where I have to succeed.
Millionaire 21 Richard Zuschlag
How do you define success?
Creating a better community with better jobs, with happy people, and being able to make a decent living. I don’t think it’s all about money. I just worked real hard and the moneymaking came by accident.