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America’s First Billionaire Proved That Growing a Successful Company Isn’t as Complicated as You Think

Despite your opinions of him, there are many lessons to be learned from America’s first billionaire.

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BY Julian Hayes II - 25 Oct 2018

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

History, when used in the correct manner is an entrepreneur's greatest teacher. Not only can you learn from some of the greatest minds, but you can learn from their mistakes to accelerate your timeline to success.

Lastly and most importantly, studying history teaches you that nothing is impossible. After all, any great feat started with a mere thought before coming to fruition.

A great example of this is America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller Sr. After reading his biography, 'Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.', I can see why he's one of the modern times' most contradictory figures.

Nevertheless, despite how you feel about him, Rockefeller's success teaches us numerous lessons in terms of how to build a successful company. Here are three habits that you can use to grow your company and bottom line.

1. You must "become the thing" before actually "getting the thing."

At 15 years old, Rockefeller spent six weeks looking for his first job as an assistant bookkeeper. He put on a nice suit each morning, essentially dressing the part for the job while also committing to getting up early until he ultimately found his job. As a teenager, Rockefeller wanted to be wealthy despite his environment being the polar opposite of that.

When you're pursuing a big goal such as growing a company, often times, it's practically going to feel millions of miles away. This is you being realistic. But, sometimes, being "practical and realistic" can deflate your spirits and lead to inaction due to how your current reality looks.

In this instance, this is the last thing you need to do because it's imperative to "become the thing" before actually "getting the thing." If you want to make one million, but haven't even made 100k, it may feel laughable to even think so highly.

In those moments of "practical doubt", I recommend you travel to the future and bring something from it back to your present reality to serve as your reminder. This can be something as simple as identifying the home you want to move into or the city you're relocating to so you can focus on what you're growing into.

When I first started working out, I bought a dry-fit shirt that was too large for me so I had the motivation to grow into it. Identity and focusing on where you're going is a powerful asset that must be implemented even when nothing in your current reality indicates this future vision you have.

2. Obsess over the details.

From his personal appearance to his routines to his philosophy on being punctual and to his attention to detail over numbers, Rockefeller emphasized the details. Rockefeller was precise with his money and intentional with his daily actions.

It's the small mundane everyday habits that stealthily accumulate to become the larger events of life. As a mentor told me and as I was reminded in this book, you must be faithful with a little before you can receive more. It's easy to overlook and not be grateful for the early years where money and business are tight.

But it's critical in those times to be grateful for whatever revenue and business come your way because if you don't manage those funds nor clients correctly, you're essentially sabotaging your future growth.

3. Know your vehicles and destinations.

Rockefeller states that "The man who starts out simply with the idea of getting rich won't succeed; you must have a larger ambition." Rockefeller accumulated lots of money but solely so that he could give away as much as possible to charitable causes.

Making money through Standard Oil was the vehicle, but the destination was the charities and ultimately a feeling of contribution. It's nearly impossible to grow a successful company without knowing your driving forces. Money isn't a guarantee despite the best of efforts. Therefore, you must know your destination (i.e. the feeling you're chasing).

For some, it's significance and for others, it's contribution. There is no wrong answer. It's just important that you know what is driving you so you can use it to stay motivated and energetic on the toughest of days when motivation isn't around and results are arriving at a snail's pace.

If you take anything away from Rockefeller, it's that self-mastery is most important. When you continually work on yourself, you concurrently help your business and entrepreneurial endeavors.

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