In a lot of ways, you could say that Daymond got really lucky with FUBU. He had a great idea. He saw a hole in the market, and knew that if he worked hard enough, long enough, he’d make it. And he did. Daymond believes he got lucky with FUBU because he started off broke and knew that he couldn’t waste any money. If he did, he was going to lose his mom’s house, and that was a pretty huge motivator.
Then, after FUBU hit numbers around $350 million, Daymond lost sight of all that. He had this feeling that he could just throw money at challenges and problems, and they’d go away. As a result, he had FUBU clothes that were off-trend, sitting in bargain bins. He was losing bucketloads of money with FUBU, and he lost another $6 million on another fashion line called Heatherette. Daymond learned his current philosophy — the power of broke — as he lost millions of dollars, but he probably could’ve learned it without a major loss if he’d had a good mentor.
That’s why Daymond is so passionate about sharing his experiences and educating hopeful entrepreneurs. You don’t have to make million-dollar mistakes like Daymond did. You just need to have someone in your corner who’s been there, to help you see your challenges from a different perspective and show you how to surmount them. So how do you find that person?
TAKE A NEW LOOK AT FRIENDS AND FAMILY
First of all, your mentor might be closer than you think. Open up your eyes and take a new look at your family members and friends. Do you know anyone who has successfully founded and run a business? Look at how they run their families and other organizations in their lives, too.
When Daymond started FUBU, his mom was his mentor in a lot of ways. Sure, she wasn’t a Fortune 500 CEO, but she had done a great job of raising Daymond and keeping a roof over their heads. Between her and the work-study program Daymond went through in high school, he was set from a really young age to approach the world with an entrepreneurial spirit.
For new entrepreneurs, your family and friends may be the best sources for mentors. Choose someone who inspires you, and start having conversations with them about your idea and your business model. You don’t have to say, “I’m looking for a mentor, and I want it to be you.” Just start asking their opinion and sharing your plans and strategies with them.
PICKING UP NEW MENTORS ALONG THE WAY
Of course, unless you have some wildly successful entrepreneurs in your family and circle of friends, you’re probably going to outgrow a lot of their advice as you start looking for funding to grow your business. That’s why I recommend looking for investors who are interested in more than just owning a share of your company.
When Daymond invests in an entrepreneur’s project, he’s putting his name on that project, not just his money. That means he has a vested interest in seeing it succeed, which is why, a lot of the time, he acts as a mentor and advisor to his entrepreneurial partners, as well as an investor.
If you can find an investor in your field who is willing to give you guidance and advice, as well as bring industry connections and resources to the table, you’ll have all of your bases covered. Your investor will act as a mentor, and you’re likely to meet others who can mentor you along the way, too. Then you can learn all the lessons they’ve learned before you, but without putting a major dent in your finances like Daymond did.