Daymond John, star of “Shark Tank” and co-founder of FUBU clothing, traveled to Detroit this week to offer words of wisdom at a conference organized to connect small business owners with buyers in across the country.
The serial entrepreneur, investor and author discussed his journey to entrepreneurship at the Passport to Procurement conference on Wednesday. The conference was organized by BuyDetroit, a small business initiative that is part of the Detroit Economic Development Corp., and was held at the Hollywood Casino in Greektown.
John told attendees about the positives he’s experienced running the apparel company he co-founded in 1992 (FUBU stands for “For Us By Us”), and he talked about when he received the call to be a cast member on “Shark Tank”, the popular ABC-TV show in which he is also known as “People’s Shark”. And he talked about all the times he had successful investments.
But he also talked about the times when things weren’t so positive – like managing time with family and experiencing setbacks. He encouraged the public to readjust their work-life balance every three to six months and focus on building relationships and being transparent with those around them.
“Don’t really think of money as your way to do something or your way to grow,” John later said in an interview with the Free Press. “It’s about building a community as much as you can grow that community, that’s the most important thing. So don’t take big bets.
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John said he’s seen companies create mandates to help small businesses. He said small business owners need to be more disciplined now, have a social media presence and keep learning.
Here are five tips shared by John on navigating the entrepreneurship journey:
“If you’re vulnerable, people will support you,” John said. He advises asking how other entrepreneurs have learned from their mistakes and says eight out of 10 people are likely to help.
“The theory of it all – ‘I’m hardcore. I do not need anyone. I am not vulnerable. I am the man or the woman. It doesn’t work,” John said.
Think about scalability
John pays a lot of attention to his sales regarding day of the week, quantity, size, colors, and even adding or removing products.
“I realized I had to be the best I could be at eight stores in New York,” John said. “So if I was selling stuff and I knew I only needed 20 shirts a week, I had to bump the 20 shirts up to 30. Once I got the 20 shirts up to 30 , then I put the hats on – and it was scalability.
“I did very little business at first, but it was a proof of concept,” he said. Doing well at 10-15 stores is more important than just trying to increase the number of stores, John said.
Develop a relevant argument
For the entrepreneurs who don’t get an investment deal on ‘Shark Tank’, John said, “They haven’t been able to get a message across in a short period of time, and they haven’t either could establish a relationship with a shark and make us believe or like them, and want to be part of what they do.
It doesn’t matter if an entrepreneur is starting a business or if the business is already in operation, John said to ask yourself three questions.
“Why that? Why now? And why me?” he said. Not me. Because there is nothing new in this world. There is only a new form of delivery.
When asked what worked for him when pitching his own businesses, John said he focused on “ask more questions and listen more than I talk because people will usually tell you what they are looking for or what they are not looking for. because, but if you keep talking, they don’t want to hear it.
How to interact with customers
John said there are three ways companies interact with customers.
“There’s acquiring a new one, upselling a current one, and/or buying one more frequently,” John said. “Acquiring a new customer is 20 times harder than selling a current customer or getting one to buy more frequently.”
Why Businesses Fail
“The biggest reason small businesses typically fail, besides lack of education, is actually overfunding,” John said. “In fact, they withdraw too much (money) too soon.”
“They’re going to get a $100,000 loan – with a $100,000 loan, you’re making the same mistake, but on a higher level,” he said. “Instead of having a $20,000 website, you should have had a $1,000 Facebook page. Instead of a seven-year lease on a store, you should have had a kiosk for a week during the holidays. .
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