Daymond John didn't strike it rich by accident. He started out with a plan.
Interested in Real Biz?Add Real Biz as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Real Biz news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Originally from Hollis, Queens, the Shark Tank investor told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis that at 10 years old he became the man of the house and was determined to start making money for his family.
As a teen, his plan was to become a millionaire by 22 years old, by selling crash-cars.
“Well, you know, Mike Tyson has an old saying: ‘Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face,’” John said in a recent interview on Real Biz with Rebecca Jarvis. “So, life punched me in the face, and I was working as a waiter at Red Lobster at 22 and I lost all my money. I just didn’t have any passion.”
That passion eventually came to John while selling hats on the streets near Coliseum Mall in Queens, when he realized people were willing to pay for his unique designs. From there, John created FUBU, now an internationally recognized clothing brand. Since FUBU’s launch in 1992, John has built a career as an investor on ABC’s "Shark Tank," a best-selling author and a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.
Here are five pieces of advice Daymond John has accumulated along the way:
1. It doesn’t matter who you know, or how much money you have
“You do not need money. You don’t need contacts to be successful,” John said. “You need to tap into a market and find a following.”
With a good idea, passion and a committed work ethic, John said you can succeed even without financial resources. Hence the title of his best-selling book, “The Power of Broke.”
2. The first failure doesn’t have to be final
For three years, John worked at Red Lobster by day and sewed hats by night to launch his company.
“I closed the company three times because I ran out of money,” John said. But thanks to good partners and mentors, he was able to eventually build his hat empire into the internationally recognized FUBU brand.
3. Keep as much equity as possible
When it comes to scaling a company, every entrepreneur faces the hurdle of funding. John’s advice: less is more.
“You should always do it with your money, or your friends and family’s money at first,” John said, noting that once you start raising outside capital, “Before you know it you’re working for all of your investors.”
4. A crowded market can still be disrupted
Just because someone is already doing something, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.
“If somebody had said to me in ’08, during one of the worst financial times in our history, that somebody’s going to come and take a blanket and put two holes in it and call it a Snuggie and do $350 million, I would’ve said you’re crazy,” he said.
5. Expect to be in it for the long-haul
Rome wasn’t built in a day. To create a company as large and successful as FUBU, know that it may take some time.
“It’s step by step by step,” he said. “Every real business or real project takes anywhere from six to eight years to take hold.”
6. BONUS: Ever wondered what Daymond John’s most prized possession is?
Besides his daughters, John said it’s "a $30 Swatch watch, but it’s worth millions to me.”
Learn why that Swatch is so valuable to Daymond John by clicking on his interview with Rebecca Jarvis above.