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“I don’t believe in waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to start a business,” says Daymond John. “The perfect time may never come. Start now.”
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He should know. In 1992, John started his first business, the fashion brand FUBU, by sewing together stylish wool caps of his own design in his mother’s home. At that time, he also was working as a waiter at Red Lobster. FUBU had its share of early struggles, but the company now has earned more than $6 billion worldwide. That success — combined with a thriving consulting business called the Shark Group, best-selling books and a role as an investor on the reality TV show Shark Tank — has made John an in-demand expert for offering guidance to budding entrepreneurs.
Having just turned 50 in February, John is now an AARP ambassador and shares his expertise with older adults who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs for the first time. Here, John offers his advice on how people age 50 and older can prepare to launch a business successfully.
Remember, every “overnight success” takes years to happen.
Daymond John: I had to close FUBU down three separate times in the very beginning because I ran out of capital. I then lost the first couple of million dollars I made when FUBU took off. I didn’t have financial intelligence, and it cost me big time.
When I was first starting FUBU, I had this sense of urgency. I was in a rush. Don’t get me wrong, a sense of urgency can be a good thing. But I was setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I had to learn to be patient and that every “overnight success” is five or 10 years in the making. Any real business — I don’t care if it was 50 years ago or today — it doesn’t really start to show any kind of real proof of concept or money until probably six to seven years in.
From my experience, the best thing new entrepreneurs can do is get a mentor who does not have an investment in their business. You can’t be wise beyond your days all the time, so a lot of time, it helps to find mentors.
You also should always be educating yourself. Find classes to take either locally or online and read every single day, whether it’s books or articles.