Something interesting happened at the bank yesterday. Sadly, it wasn’t that I noticed an extra $100,000 in my account. I was at the teller window and the young guy next to me was probably in his mid twenties, with his little toddler in tow. He was inquiring about the best way to set up regular $25,000 deposits. After a few minutes, he left and the middle aged woman who was the next customer at the window wanted to put $75 from her credit card into her checking account. I would assume this was to avoid bouncing a check.

This dichotomy was very interesting to me. These two individuals were obviously at very different places in their financial lives. It brilliantly illustrates the importance of proper financial health. The young man was, from outward appearance, not much different economically from the woman. In fact, the woman was more nicely dressed than the man was, yet was seemingly a gnat’s whisker away from financial disaster, living paycheck to paycheck. The other person however, was exploring the best way to deposit fairly large amounts of money on a regular basis. One would expect he was doing something differently financially than the woman who was living paycheck.

From what I was able to discern (not that I was listening, but when you hear “regular $25,000 deposits” from someone that age, it makes your ears perk up), he ran his own small business. That brings up the statistic that 80% of American millionaires started their own business. Actually, Georgia State University marketing professor Thomas Stanley, who has been studying the affluent in America for about 30 years, says his research indicates you are an astonishing ten times more likely to become a millionaire if you own your own business.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, small business owners are the largest class of millionaires; larger than investors, executives and those who got lucky and inherited their money. The report also had this little tidbit if information. It wasn’t the running and profiting from the operation of their small business that made most of these business owners wealthy, although the man at the bank may achieve that status. Actually, most of the small business owners made their fortunes when they sold their businesses.

Many of these businesses are being bought by retiring baby boomers who are cashing in their retirement plans to be their own bosses, after toiling for years under the thumb of corporate America. Some of their hard earned cash also goes into other venues. According to a CNN/USA Today poll last year, in addition to their small business holdings, 46% of American millionaires also held investment real estate, even though that was not their primary source of wealth.

This article was excerpted from a post by debtblog on June 12, 2007 . It covers the same subject matter about we wrote in recently published posts, to which links are provided in the text above.