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Active Wealth-Building Ventures & the Self-Made Man

Updated on December 11, 2011

Traditionally, American immigrants have sought the freedom to chart their own destinies, pulling themselves up by their economic bootstraps. College scholarships for the self-made man recognize personal athletic, musical or academic achievement and require a competitive application or essay.

Forefathers of America

The original immigrants and forefathers of America sought the freedom to chart their own destinies. They could land on these shores penniless, and very shortly be in business for themselves. They would start up business after business, building personal wealth and self esteem. There are fewer self-made men in the 21st century.

Our forefathers did it out of sheer will-power and determination, by the sweat of their brow, getting their hands dirty and making the most of what little they had. There were very few, if any, regulations and statutes to observe. They were free to spend all of their energies and creative capacity building their businesses without the hindrance of meeting legislative requirements.

If things became a bit too strict and straight-laced, they simply sold out or pulled up roots and moved farther west. There were no government entitlements, welfare safety nets and few local charities for them to otherwise rely on. For those not born into wealth, there were no ways to get rich quick except to start up their own business (or engage in illegal activities).

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The 21st century

In the 21st century, there are still self-made men. There are fewer of them. A few succeed in sports or the entertainment industry. Most of us prefer the relative safety of earning a steady wage or salary. Today the bootstrap entrepreneur is rare. He is most likely to be found starting up dot-coms, web marketing sidelines or using technology in ways never dreamed of. Today, most of these schemes require a certain amount of capital for start-up costs, which requires selling the idea to investors. The average entrepreneur starts several businesses in his career—most of which fail, but some of which succeed handsomely.

For students

Colleges, universities and philanthropic programs reward this personal finance attitude through scholarships rather than through grants or sweepstakes drawings. The scholarships recognize personal achievement, be it athletic, musical or academic, and require some sort of essay or competitive application.

More about personal finance attitudes

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