The people with the most wealth in this country made it one way: Through ownership of a business interest. Either they, or perhaps a relative, started a successful business and the returns have made them fabulously wealthy.
I’ve written about this in the past, but I have never had data to back up my hunch. I had only anecdotes.
As I wrote previously, “If you want to be in the top echelon of wealth in your city or county, you have to own a business. To be fair, I cannot prove this…anecdotally, however, I can say without a shadow of doubt that it’s true. Nothing builds wealth like a successful business.”
I have since stumbled upon a wonderful bit of data that validates my hunch.
Every few years the Federal Reserve surveys the American public and gathers information about their current income, assets, and debts. It publishes this data in a report called the Survey of Consumer Finances. If you’re into money and data, it’s a gold mine of information.
The results of the survey, which collects data from tens of thousands of people, are representative of the country as a whole.
With the survey data, it is possible to piece together the assets held by Americans based on their net worth. As I suspected, there is one asset that the wealthiest people hold in a greater percentage of their total net worth than those with less wealth: A direct business interest.
Listed below are net worth categories along with the percentage of that’s category’s net worth that is comprised of a direct business interest.
$10k to $100k – 5%
$100k to $1M – 9%
$1M to $10M – 29%
$10M to $100M – 45%
$100M to $1B – 60%
$1B and over – 66%
For anyone with a net worth of $10 million or more, nearly one-half to two-thirds of their wealth is tied up in a business. Take those business interests away and these individuals would still be incredibly wealthy, but without owning businesses, their net worth would be considerably less.
I can think of a few caveats to this information.
One, not everyone is bold enough or capable enough to start or grow a business. And plenty of people with the capability have no interest in doing it. That’s fine. As I’ve said before, becoming incredibly wealthy isn’t a particularly great goal. I’m just pointing out how important direct business interests are in building wealth.
Second – and far more important – there is an incredibly simple way to own businesses, even if you do not have a desire to start or run a business of your own. Just buy stocks on publicly traded exchanges.
You may not have a successful business of your own, but you can buy a tiny fraction of hundreds of wonderful, profitable businesses by buying their stock.
Investing your savings in stocks is a fantastic way to benefit from other smart and energetic people who are working for and running thriving businesses. You don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting, and yet you can profit from their ideas and execution.
Keep in mind, nothing comes without risk. Any business interest is only as good as the business behind it. Business values can go up, but they can also go down.
That shouldn’t stop you from becoming a business owner – either directly or indirectly through stock ownership. The wealthy have consistently used businesses to produce remarkable prosperity.
You should too.
Justin Lueger is President of Invisor Financial LLC, a registered investor adviser firm in the State of Kansas. All opinions expressed are his own and should not be viewed as individual advice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.