This isn’t the first article on achieving financial success in early adulthood. In truth, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of them out here on the Internet alone. Some detail revealing discoveries from decades of studies on the lives of the wealthy and successful. Others are hearsay, allegedly written by people who may have acquired their millionaire secrets from either books or right through the grapevine.
Few are experiential, authored by these millionaire high-flyers themselves actually recounting their journey to wealth. But in this article, you’ll be learning straight from the horse’s mouth.
As headhunter, career coach, and investor, Dandan Zhu knows exactly what it takes to reach the millionaire mark. Not only has she gone from rags-to-riches in her 20s, attaining her millionaire status enabled her retire from corporate life at just 28.
Here are 8 smart things she recommends you do in your 20s to be rich before 30.
My career as a top-billing headhunter took me from being a broke waitress at 22 to being retired from corporate life at 28.
In 2016, I started my company, Dandan Global, to help companies and individuals achieve the life and career they envision.
My Daily DANDAN Podcast, covers everything I’m all about including:
- How to get multiple offers in ANY career at ANY age
- How to become a headhunter and succeed at sales
- Investing and Entrepreneurship
As a 30 year-old millionaire, I did these things in my 20s to get here:
#1. Break Free from Traditional Thinking By Avoiding Life’s Biggest Trap
As a kid and a reluctant teenager, I was constantly pressured by society, parents, and authority figures on what I should do to be “successful.” That’s why I was so miserable. All the way to college and even shortly after, I never truly examined life for myself because I was too busy conforming to others’ views of life.
As I graduated from college with no job, I realized how wrong my parents’ traditional advice of obsessively pursuing higher education like a law degree was. I knew I could not compete. That was not to be my destiny. I had to find my own path to wealth and it wasn’t going to be going to school for 8 years.
If you wait until you’re 27+ to start earning money with a mound of student debt, it will probably be pretty hard to become a millionaire by 30. I knew I was not willing to wait a decade for my first million so I rejected graduate education to my parents’ intense dissatisfaction and helplessness.
To become a millionaire by 30, advanced education is less important than accumulating a volume of real world work PAID experiences.
#2. Break Free from Self-Hate and Self-Doubt.
In college, I had to support myself because my family didn’t give me any money to spend. I worked many jobs including waitressing, bartending, teaching Chinese, selling placement advertisements, and becoming an eBay powerseller.
Because I started to generate income autonomously, I realized that I could do anything I put my mind to. I was good enough already. I realized I was different than my classmates who came from rich families and didn’t need to hustle. I stopped hating my impoverished upbringing and started owning my rags-to-riches story that I knew I would be capable of achieving.
I started to believe I had the power, right, and ability to become wealthy. Because why not?
#3. Find a Great High-Paying Job Early in Life.
As much as I enjoyed being a powerseller on eBay and running all my small time jobs, I knew that without a high income in the 6-digits, I’d struggle to hit my first million. Since I am a big follower of self-help, I studied the professions of my idols. Many people I looked up to created their wealth from a SALES job.
Whether it was real estate, products, or educational programs, my idols were in the business of sales! Thus, I purposefully concentrated on finding commission-based jobs. I took my first sales job in headhunting and worked overtime to master my craft. By age 25, I was earning $215k+ per year.
Unless you have a trust fund, you’ll need to earn a high income to become a millionaire. Sales is one of the best jobs to increase your income potential while still young.
#4. Save And Live Smartly.
Many of my fellow headhunting colleagues, bosses, and acquaintances similarly made 6-figures in their early 20s. Instead of saving and reducing costs of living, they couldn’t wait to purchase their next big-ticket item and move into a more luxurious apartment with more fancy furniture. Some got suckered into buying expensive primary residences which made them underwater mortgage slaves.
I went the opposite way. I continued to rent with roommates while shopping thrift, clearance, and Craigslist for furniture and clothing. Other than a few luxury items because I could afford it, I lived very modestly and still do.
If you spend your money, you will need to waste more time to earn it back. The long term repercussions of spending leads to regret and waste.
#5. Invest Aggressively.
Not only did I save aggressively, I learned investment techniques and jumped into the world of real estate to start creating another stream of income. At age 25, I bought my first condo and continued to invest in stocks until my next investment in home purchase.
At 28, I closed on my 5th property, becoming a landlord of 9 units. While investing is terrifying and I’ve now had my fair share of horror stories, I continue to do it because real estate is extremely lucrative if you have the right strategy. I also invest in crypto and risky investments because I want higher returns than mutual funds. I’m also too impatient to wait for compound interest to kick in 30 years from now.
If you don’t invest your money, it will be very hard to hit a million. You need your money to be working for you while you sleep!
#6. Start Your Own Business in Your Field of Expertise.
Many entrepreneurs fail. The numbers are horrific. However, those failures could have been prevented. Too few people actually have a valuable expertise. Instead, they compete in traditional businesses that are over-saturated like retail, food, and services.
Instead, be different and use your strengths to your advantage. I used my headhunting background to establish a business servicing my niche market of headhunting agencies and job seekers. I help people get ahead in life utilizing my unique perspective and knowledge having worked with such a volume of companies and candidates. Very few of my competitors can do what I do.
NEVER go into business to “be your own boss.” You must have a unique background, expertise, solid financial backing, and true passion for your new company and job.
#7. Hire and Grow.
It’s hard to succeed in isolation. To grow your business’s revenue, you must be able to attract, retain, and grow your talent pool and human infrastructure. You need a team to become a top business in your chosen field. You also want to free up your time from needing to work.
As I grow my company, I make sure I learn how to market myself and my business on the most popular and effective social marketing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Quora. Since my strengths lie in content creation, writing, sales, and marketing, my entrepreneurial journey, while turbulent, has been easier than most. My business is booming and we’re excited about the unlimited potential in our industry and my role to influence our networks.
Be an inspirational, well-connected, and famous business leader so it’s easier to hire and grow your company. Know how to use social media, sales, and marketing to sustainably grow.
#8. Never Stop Learning.
I could not get anywhere with the information I learned in college. After I graduated, I had to learn everything from scratch. Real estate, headhunting, people skills, entrepreneurship, all of these subjects are impossible to achieve without constant knowledge absorption.
I have to constantly learn new skills and refine my approach in everything I do. How I communicate with people, how I work, how I organize my day, how I run my business, no day is the same. That’s the fun part about life and business.
You’re always challenged, stressed, and pushed into your discomfort zone!
Once you make your first million, the next one will be much easier because you’ll have so much to leverage. However, the first one will require you to push yourself, live differently, and work on yourself harder than society, your teachers, and your parents ever pushed you.
As I’ve gotten older, I have realized how age and experience, while helpful, plays a small role in the process of success-mongering. The ultimate determinant of your fate is how much you do, how diligent you are, and what standards you hold yourself up to.
Self-discipline is a constant struggle. It’s hard to hold ourselves accountable all the time. But we can try and constantly push for a better tomorrow if we dare to dream we are worthy of a fantastic and wealthy life young.