Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian born entrepreneur and TV personality who rose to prominence in the business world after his software company sold to Mattel for $3.65 Billion in 1999.
Also known as “Mr. Wonderful” for you Shark Tank fans, Kevin O’Leary has since written 3 best selling books about life, entrepreneurship, and money; and what it really takes to make it in the big leagues of business.
Here are 10 success lessons from Kevin O’Leary – “Mr. Wonderful” for entrepreneurs,
1. Don’t chase bad ideas
Successful entrepreneurs come up with bad ideas all the time and many continue to pursue them because they are blinded by passion. Past success doesn’t necessarily guarantee the next idea will be a home run. While it helps, it isn’t always guaranteed.
Seek honest feedback and opinions about your idea from outside your inner circle. Family and friends aren’t always going to be brutally honest in fear of discouraging or upsetting you. Feedback from your target market in the early stages can help you engage the breaks on a bad idea before you get too deep.
2. Your dollars are your soldiers
Money is the lifeblood of business. Many will espouse how money is over rated, and shouldn’t be the most important pursuit of business. Kevin disagrees. He likens your start up finances to your soldiers on the battlefield of business.
“Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers – I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.” If some of them die, that’s bad. If they all die, that means you’re broke.
3. Whatever you pay attention to grows
Your business requires your full attention. Everyone knows that one person that is full of great ideas but nothing ever comes to fruition because they are chasing too many things. They spread their attention too thin and no idea ever receives the amount needed to grow.
4. Sales are everything
Many otherwise viable business ideas and startup companies have been harshly rejected in the Shark Tank because they simply have no sales. Sales are everything. You could have the greatest idea in the world with a plan to execute, but if you approach an investor with no sales or tangible purchase orders you will be in for a tough sell.
Investors want to see real market demand with real paying customers before they will back ventures. They don’t want to back speculation without actual sales which will confirm that your business model works.
5. Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas
Anyone can come up with a good idea — past experience, success, net worth and connections have nothing to do with it. Those that want it bad enough will do whatever it takes to bring that idea to life. Those that make excuses will say, “I had that idea — I just didn’t have the resources to make it happen” when someone else steps up and delivers.
Don’t ever think your idea is too small or you don’t have the ability to bring your vision to life. The only thing that can stop you is excuses. And if you find out that someone already took your idea, don’t stress — come up with something else. There will never be a shortage of brilliant ideas.
6. The numbers don’t lie
When it comes to investing in a business, it’s all about the numbers. What are your sales? How much debt do you have? What was your initial investment? What are your production costs and how much do you sell it for? While businesses can always be on the rise or decline, the current numbers of an operation are critical in determining valuation and the chances of success.
7. Take calculated risk
Without risk there is no reward, but that doesn’t mean you should jump into a situation blind and hope for the best. For example, if you are considering quitting your job and giving 100 percent of your time to a new venture you need to make sure you have some safety nets in place.
Waiting until you have several months worth of business and personal expenses in reserve will come in handy in the event that you encounter a bumpy launch. Taking that risk without the financial reserve planning is almost suicidal — a single hiccup could spell disaster and complete failure.
8. Business is war
An entrepreneur should be in it to win it – to crush the competition. Kevin has a no nonsense approach to business which is void of emotion. Business is war, and you have to play to win. Don’t let your feelings get in the way. The market will determine who survives and who doesn’t, so play the game with everything you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to lose. Just reassemble your troops and try again with a different strategy.
“Business is war. I go out there, I want to kill the competitors. I want to make their lives miserable. I want to steal their market share. I want them to fear me and I want everyone on my team thinking we’re going to win.”
9. Be fully prepared
It seems that everyone has a startup these days and this leads to investors and members of the media being bombarded with pitches every direction they turn. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to attract — an investment or press for your startup — before seeking either you need to make sure you are fully prepared.
You might only have five minutes for a once-in-a-lifetime pitch opportunity and you are only in pre-launch media exposure-seeking mode once. Never assume you will receive a second chance.
10. Don’t be scared to ask for what you want
You can sit there and think about what you want or you can go ahead and ask for what you want. It’s quite simple — and if you don’t ask for it someone else will.
Don’t be scared to ask for what you want. What is the worst that can happen? If you get turned down then get back up and ask again. If you are scared of rejection you are going to have problems. You need to be able bounce right back up after getting kicked to the ground.