If there's anyone on this planet who knows what it takes to build a successful business from the ground up, it's Shark Tank's very own Daymond John. Not only has John made a name for himself as a savvy businessman, but he's known as someone who's extremely generous with his time, especially when it comes to lending a hand to budding entrepreneurs. In fact, for years, John has partnered with Bob Evans Farms in its "Heroes to CEOs" contest, which offers military veterans a chance to secure valuable business grants.
The Motley Fool recently spoke to John about his involvement in the program, and he was gracious enough to share some insightful tips for business owners looking to secure funding to take their ventures to the next level. Here are some of his top pieces of advice.
1. Always be prepared
John has seen his share of captivating Shark Tank pitches, but he's also seen his share of business owners who have come in glaringly unprepared. And that's a huge mistake that could cost you a loan, partner, or whatever it is you're looking for to ensure your business's success. The takeaway? "Know your numbers," says John. "Know who your target consumer is and read up on the person you're coming to for funding." Doing your homework could spell the difference between getting what you want and getting left out in the cold.
2. Have proof of concept
If you're looking to borrow money for your business, you'll need to convince the person or entity you're asking that you're worth lending to. It's not enough to go in with a great idea. Rather, you need proof that your idea actually works from a business standpoint.
3. Own up to your failures
John himself has fumbled on his own path to success. The fact that you've made mistakes in the course of building your business isn't problematic, John explains, as long as you're prepared to talk about your failures and how you overcame them. Proving that you've learned from your mistakes is a sign of emotional and professional maturity.
4. Be likeable
Personality most definitely plays a role in business, which is why John says it's so important to come in as a problem-solver instead of a problem-creator. "Be someone an investor would actually want to partner with," John insists. And that involves being flexible and open to learning from others.
5. Be humble
If you march into a room acting like you know everything there is to know about your business or the world of business on a whole, it's going to turn lenders and investors off. Instead, acknowledge that while you may know a lot of things, you don't know everything, and remember that it's OK to ask for help.
6. Give back
There's a reason John tends to align himself with companies that give back: It makes customers feel good to know that their money is contributing to a better world. If you want your business to succeed, give back to a cause you believe in. And remember, you don't have to be a big company to be impactful. John points to sock company Bombas, which donates a pair of socks for each pair purchased, as an example. "They're not changing the world; they're making socks," he says. "But they still have a great story." It was for that reason that John chose to invest in Bombas, and it's been one of his greatest Shark Tank success stories.
We can't all be lucky enough to have a mentor like Daymond John. But you can still learn from his expertise -- whether you're new to the business world or have owned a company for years.