A Cover Story/Special Section Introduction
By CIANJ Chairman Andrew Silverstein, CPA, Partner, Dorfman Abrams Music, LLC
COMMERCE’s Annual Accounting Issue, which will be bonus-distributed at the NJCPA Convention in June, showcases how accounting firms, banks, colleges and universities, and law firms support entrepreneurs and help their businesses to thrive and grow in New Jersey. Getting sage advice from the beginning is a competitive advantage for each company as it goes from business plan to market to expansion mode. This section illustrates just how important good financial planning is to the future of any business. All of these lessons are tied together in this month’s Cover Story, which includes an exclusive interview with Shark Tank’s Daymond John, who turned his flea market clothing operation into a billion-dollar empire and a $250 million net worth. As a mentor, John is teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs how to pursue the American dream, and the ins and outs of free enterprise. * * *
Daymond John—founder and CEO of FUBU, the popular American clothing and hip hop apparel company—is a star investor and entrepreneur on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank who grew up poor. After his mother taught him how to sew, he started selling wool caps for $10. He then took a small operation based in his mom’s house and transformed it into a business with more than $350 million in revenue within just six years. FUBU has earned more than $6 billion in global sales to date.
In 2015, John was named a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship and was part of an exclusive group who joined former President Barack Obama at the Global Entrepreneur Summit in Kenya. Recently, he launched blueprint + co, a creative co-working space with a mission to educate and empower communities of like-minded executives and entrepreneurs.
In this exclusive interview with COMMERCE, Daymond John discusses making money, empowering entrepreneurs and the secrets to his success.
The Secrets to Business Success. “Knowing that I am not the smartest person in the room and surrounding myself with other smart people. It’s also about knowing that when I throw money at something, I need to roll up my sleeves and learn it myself. Success is about realizing that change is going to come, and not getting too comfortable. And of course, doing something that I am passionate about and love, not just for money.”
Maximizing and Monetizing Ideas. “You need to learn who your customer really is. Do not assume somebody is going to do it for you, do not put things out there without testing them first, and always listen to your customers. More than 90 percent of the successful products that come out of large companies were developed and came out of customer feedback. There’s always a better way, and you have to listen to those people who are telling you what the better way is.”
Investing in Entrepreneurs. “I look for entrepreneurs who have failed and still have the passion, drive, knowledge and resolve to get back up. I look for entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they are doing, but also know that they cannot do it by themselves. I like to invest in people who surround themselves with like-minded people and make sure they get the education they need to be successful. I also look for entrepreneurs who have the same moral standards that I have.”
Red Flags When Evaluating Entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurs who do not do their homework and talk fictitiously scare me away from deals. There are some entrepreneurs out there who think that a lightning bolt is going to cure everything—meaning they think that if you throw a million dollars at their problems, it’s going to make everything better. I also do not like to work with entrepreneurs who are shortsighted and take themselves too seriously.” A Favorite Deal from Shark Tank. “One great investment for me was with Al ‘Bubba’ Baker and his baby back ribs. He was a superstar football player, and then he goes and starts creating these boneless ribs. He got the first patent on food I have ever seen. The deal was almost dead 10 times because I did not think I could add value to him, but he proved me wrong. We ended up with a great partnership.”
Read business professionals talk about the importance of entrepreneurship here.