Walt Disney Television via Getty Images/Tony Rivetti
En español | As one of the stars of the four-time Emmy-winning reality TV show Shark Tank, Daymond John gets plenty of practice making decisions about which small businesses have the potential to become major successes.
But for people aspiring to become entrepreneurs for the first time, it can be difficult to make decisions about how much to invest — both financially and personally — toward their goal of owning a business.
As an AARP ambassador, John, who turned 50 in February, says older adults who want to become entrepreneurs can start by taking stock of how much time and money they can commit to their business idea. Even small steps can be enough to get a business on its way.
"Everybody has the ability to take an accurate inventory of what they have to offer,” John says. “That inventory may be that you have 10 hours a week to invest in this idea, and you have $500 to invest in this. Or you're going to sell your TV and not go out to dinner three times a month. And with that money I save, I'm going to invest in this business.
"Maybe you have five friends that are willing to jump in on this idea with you. So, you can always take accurate inventory of yourself. It's just a matter of how truthful you are with yourself."
It was by making the most of the assets he had available that John was able to start his own fashion brand FUBU — which stands for “For Us, By Us” — while he was still in his 20s. That company has earned more than $6 billion in sales worldwide today. But when he started that business, John made sure to keep his nighttime job at a restaurant while he sewed clothes during the day.
"I kept my job at Red Lobster for about five years while I was going through this process” of starting FUBU and trying to build it into a long-term success, John says.
Sticking to your budget and business plan after your venture has launched is just as important as being realistic about how much you can afford to dedicate to getting started, according to John.
"You need discipline. Not only in the beginning, but throughout the entire process. If you decide to dedicate $2,000 to your business, stick to that budget. At some point, you may get frustrated and wish the business was growing more quickly. Don't let that frustration get the best of you,” John says.
"If you end up taking out a loan for $5,000 that you can't afford to pay back, it becomes a slippery slope. Don't let your discipline get away from you, to the point that you completely lose control.”
And, perhaps most importantly, according to John, older adults who are planning to start businesses should remember to make use of their greatest asset: the many years spent building skills and networks of professional contacts.
"Recognize that you have the skills,” he says. “You just need to figure out how to use them in new ways."