Robert Herjavec is a leading businessman in North America and stars on “Shark Tank”. He is also the CEO of Herjavec Group, which is a global IT security firm. Being an immigrant led Robert Herjavec, 54, to grow up fast. His family moved from Croatia to Canada, and by the time he was 10, they relied on him to read their apartment lease.
His cybersecurity firm, the Herjavec Group, has $130 million in 2015 revenue. He founded his first company, BRAK Systems, a Canadian integrator of Internet security software, from the basement of his home. BRAK Systems was sold to AT&T Canada in March 2000 for $30.2 million.
1. Believe in the business — and yourself
There are so many people that will say, ‘No — bad idea, it’s never going to work’. You have to have a senseless belief in your idea and yourself – almost to the point of being delusional. Remember that everyone has advice but no one knows what you have to go through to start, grow and scale a business until they live it! Talk is cheap, but action speaks volumes.
2. Test your business model before taking significant risks
So often you hear the story of the entrepreneur who risks it all to start a business. The entrepreneur quits her job, takes a second mortgage on the house, and dives in head first. Sometimes these stories work out, but often they don’t. And if they don’t, the consequences can be catastrophic. Keep your jobs until the business is at a point that you can safely quit it. Call on some potential clients and see if they will buy whatever it is you’re selling.
3. Know your numbers
“To a lot of small businesses, including me when I started, the numbers were like a jigsaw puzzle,” Herjavec said. “I kind of knew what revenue was, expenses, cost of goods, but I couldn’t put those pieces together into a picture that made sense.” Similarly, many of the businesses on the show were closely monitoring their revenues but didn’t know how to keep track of profits. Without a firm grasp of where your company stands financially, it is difficult to make changes when necessary, Herjavec said. Plus, if you don’t know the language of accounting and finance, “someone is going to take advantage of you, or you’re going to be left behind.”
4. Confidence and drive to succeed are vital
Confidence and drive to succeed are vital to success in life. As the CEO of a global IT security firm and star of the hit reality show, Shark Tank, Herjavec exhibits confidence in every aspect of his daily life. If he didn’t have a drive to succeed, he wouldn’t have become such a successful businessman. He translates that confidence and drive to succeed to the dance floor of “Dancing with the Stars” as well. Bruno Tonioli told Herjavec that, “You got the flash. You got the dash. You do everything with confidence.”
5. Everyone lies
Some people will lie to you because they mean to. Others will do it to tell you what you want to hear. Either way, test everything you are told. If someone tells you they are going to invest, get a date. And if the date passes, make sure your spider senses are tingling. If a client tells you he is giving you the order, ask him if it is in procurement yet; if not, ask him if he minds if you call the purchaser yourself. Test what people tell you. They don’t always mean to lie to you, but they do lie.
6. Engage in smart marketing
“We see a lot of small businesses that are jumping to Snapchat and Instagram and getting business that way, but email marketing is oftentimes overlooked,” Herjavec says. It’s far easier and less expensive to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones, Herjavec added, so maintaining a robust customer mailing list is a good way to increase your revenue at a low cost.
7. Ask for help
Success of the companies and any small business depends on how they make use of their newly acquired knowledge and resources. “What we found after eight seasons at Shark Tank,” he said, “is the businesses that continue to be successful are the ones that looked at our money as the start and not the goal.”
8. There is no work/life balance
Your business is a living, breathing thing, and it has to be fed and grow to survive. There is no balance in your life when your business is in trouble. If you are under the illusion that you can start a business and run it at your life’s schedule, you are mistaken. The business is like a starving puppy — when it needs to eat, then it needs to eat regardless of what you have going on personally.
9. Bring a compass
When you’re starting out, you have to realize that it is going to be hard and then it will get worse…far worse than you think. Be prepared to survive the worst situation you can think of — and then assume that things will still get even worse than that. Be prepared — it’s much better to have a compass to get out of the woods (just in case) than to have to eat your friends to survive.
10. Train for a marathon
Once you find a good opportunity, go slow and check and double-check everything. Business is a sprint until you find an opportunity, then it requires the patience of a marathon runner. Herjavec says “I know this is hard and trust me, I am not a marathoner — but I have run two of them just to reinforce this point to myself.”