Recently, at a regional Entrepreneurs Organization event, I had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Not only did I get to hear Daymond John speak, but I got to meet the Shark Tank investor and FUBU founder in person. This left an impression on me about who John is, and how his experiences of building a successful business from scratch can help me become a better entrepreneur.
The "do's" and "don'ts" I took away are outlined below. I hope these ideas teach you - or remind you - of what it takes to make it as a founder and stir your entrepreneurial spirit toward creating the company of your dreams in 2016.
Do Make Quick Decisions
When you're a founder making every decision from the office furniture color to potential business partners, you find out quickly just how many have to be made every day. With so many tiny and monumental aspects of your company that must be determined, especially early on, it's crucial that these decisions are made fast so that you keep pace with what needs to done and continue to move forward - instead of drowning in a sea of never-ending choices.
When it comes to many decisions - especially ones that will have a profound effect on your business - it's tempting to pick apart every little aspect of each option. While the ability to make a rational choice is valuable, there's nothing good about analysis paralysis. Entrepreneurs who make decisions reluctantly miss out. Sitting back and overanalyzing often leads to letting that recommended hire, new client, or potential partner slip away.
The truth is that we never have all the information we'd like to make a decision, so it's best to go off what you already know combined with sound reasoning. In short, you cannot change the direction of a non-moving object. The quicker you make a decision and get going - the quicker you can make adjustments toward the desired result.
Do Remember Your Roots
Some people allow fame to change them so much that they act differently depending on where they are and who they're with. To me, Daymond John isn't one of them. He really does seem like the same person in real life that he is on TV, and that genuineness strengthens his personal brand.
Daymond John talks openly about his old neighborhood in Hollis, Queens, and how he started FUBU with some friends. His willingness to be his authentic self and celebrate where he came from allows John's story to resonate and adds depth to his professional reputation. Doing the same can make your own personal brand truly personal, which makes it more memorable and relatable to anyone you come across.
Don't Stop Learning
Keeping up in the world of business means you can't get stagnant, and that's true whether you're a startup founder, a big-name executive, or a recent graduate just beginning your career. Continually seeking out sources of learning is one way that John stays successful. Despite his dyslexia, he regularly reads a variety of business books that allow him to stay flexible in his approach and incorporate new ideas into his work.
By making learning a lifelong habit, you'll also keep your thinking from getting in a rut and ensure your company stays ahead of the ever-changing business climate.
Do Cultivate Conviction and Persistence
No one likes rejection, but if you're going to be an entrepreneur, it's a fact of life. Daymond John applied for financing again and again, but banks kept rejecting him and his idea for an apparel company. With the success he'd already experienced selling FUBU clothing he knew that he was on to something, so he didn't give up. Instead he thought of a creative solution: he and his mother mortgaged their house.
Without that conviction in his idea and the persistence to follow through with getting funding no matter what, John wouldn't be where he is today - and without those qualities most entrepreneurs will give up too soon on their business and fail to achieve their potential.
Don't Let Fear Get in the Way
Think about that sacrifice for a second: John put where he lived on the line. He risked losing his and his mother's home because he believed so fiercely in FUBU. After being told by banks so many times that his business wasn't a good idea, that might've been a scary move, but John didn't let fear get in the way. He did what many entrepreneurs are required to do at some point: he took a risk by making half of the house into a factory for their merchandise.
Sometimes running your own company can be uncomfortable, but if you truly know that you have something valuable to offer the world, there's no reason to let fear get in the way of your dreams.
Meeting one of the most iconic entrepreneurs of our time and learning about his journey has given me a fresh perspective on what it takes to make my company great. I hope these ideas also give you insight on how to make your own business even better and turn your vision into a skyrocketing success.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.