The First Million Is Always the Hardest

More than 10.4 million Americans are millionaires.

Another 300,000 new millionaires joined the ranks over the past year.

Of those, 145,000 households are worth more than $25 million. Another 1.2 million households are worth between $5 million and $25 million, as well.

While the rich are indeed getting richer, what's notable is that the number of new millionaires is growing quickly thanks in part to stock market returns, real estate values, and a growing number of self-starting entrepreneurs willing to take risk. More power to them.

Granted, most vary greatly when it comes to how they made their fortunes and many share similar traits in how they're getting there. By learning some of these stand-out characteristics and making them a part of your daily routine, you may find yourself closer to becoming a millionaire quicker than you think.

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Know this. Most millionaires are not born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Many are self-made. In fact, according to a Fidelity Investment survey, about 80 percent of those with a net worth of $1 million or more made it on their own.

While you can always save $2,000 a month for the next 41 years to save $1 million, it's really not as complicated and time consuming as that.

Always be willing to Learn

Quite often, when I'm not negotiating a new commercial real estate deal, or conversing with a tenant, you'll find me reading inspirational non-fiction books, such as Tony Robbins' latest book, Money Master the Game. Books such as this are designed not just to entertain, but to educate and offer valuable worldly insights.

Other books on my reading list are, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko; and How Rich People Think by Steve Siebold.

What I like about Robbins' new book is how he debunks myths about personal finance, and his views on retirement, protecting money in an incessantly volatile market, all supported with charts and statistics all millionaires must pay attention to.

Don't get me wrong, a good James Patterson novel or a story about Tarzan is a great escape, but if you want to make the most of your time on your way to millionaire status, become an avid non-fiction reader.

Invest in Yourself

The biggest investment you can make is in yourself. Remember, knowledge is power. If you want to become a millionaire, you must invest and continually educate yourself.

Personally, I'm a big believer in personal development. It's why I'm always reading a new biography or the latest self-help book when I have free time. Investing in your development is one of the biggest competitive advantages. Learning never stops, and I'm always open to new challenges, sharpening my skills and learning new ones.

While there are billionaire geniuses among us, educating yourself will often give you a better chance at becoming rich. In fact, Michael Ellsberg's, The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won't Learn in College about How to Be Successful, points out that 80 percent of all millionaires are college-educated.

Be Aware of Competitive Threats

You cannot afford to not know what you're competition is doing, how they're operating, or what changes they seek. Once you take your eye off the ball, the game is over. Your success has more to do with staying focused than anything else. That means staying on top of and knowing all advancements coming down the pike. Read all of the news you can pertaining to your industry's past, present and future. You must fully understand your business inside and out to be successful.

Be willing to go that Extra Mile

Millionaires are not on a nine to five work schedule. If you are, that probably has to change. If there's one key thing that I've found that most millionaires do, it's that they work when everyone else has gone home. Don't be afraid to work a few late nights or weekends to get the job done right.

Create Multiple Streams of Income

Finally, never put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, diversify. That way, you displace risk tied to a single source of income, while hedging against a potential loss. For example, if you lose your job (your only source of income), your income drops to zero. However, if you're well diversified with an investment such as real estate, you have a hedge against the job loss. For instance, if you own rental properties, you can collect that income.

If you really focus on becoming a millionaire, and master these few behaviors I've outlined, you will begin to think and act like the millionaire you've always wanted to be.