3 Lessons I Learned Building FUBU

By Daymond John

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that building a brand from the ground up is easy. At the same time, don’t ever let anybody tell you that it’s too hard, either. If you have the passion and the drive, you can create a world-class brand and a highly successful business… and you can do it a lot faster if you incorporate a few lessons that I learned when building FUBU.

IT CAN’T BE A HOBBY

When I started building FUBU, it really wasn’t much more than a hobby. I was sewing and selling hats at affordable prices, but I wasn’t really committed to how big the brand could get and all of its potential. After a couple of years of treating my brand as a side project for a little extra income, I decided that I was really going to make it work as a business. To do that, I had to stop treating it like a hobby and start treating it like a real job.

For a couple of years, I got up early every morning to work on making product and filling orders. I’d spend the first half of the day working on FUBU, and then I’d go to work at my job at Red Lobster until around midnight. Then I’d get home and spend another hour or two working on building FUBU some more. That was when things started to really take off for me, when I committed to being a successful entrepreneur.

YOU CAN’T HOLD ON TO YOUR SAFETY NET FOREVER

At some point I realized that I couldn’t keep working at Red Lobster and continue to grow FUBU at the rate that I needed to. I had to quit my job, which was a pretty big risk because I had a $100,000 loan that I needed to pay off. Yes, at that point, FUBU was making money and growing; I’d already brought on three of my friends to speed up production, and I was selling clothes in shops on consignment. But, if I wanted to keep a shirt on my back, pay my guys, and keep up on loan payments, I had to grow the company.

Growing the company meant losing the safety net of consistent pay from my job. Sure, I could have kept working and had the safety net of that paycheck to pay off the loan, but I’d still be paying on that loan today and FUBU wouldn’t be where it is now. At some point, whether you’re “ready” or not, you have to let go of the safety net and learn to fly.

THERE ARE ALWAYS OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME

Finally, I learned that there’s always going to be another obstacle or challenge ahead of you. First it was getting artists and fans to wear my clothes. Then it was getting shops to carry them, even on consignment. Then it was pushing the business and getting it to grow and bring in more capital. FUBU and my other ventures all still face challenges today, but I learned early on that if you’re ready for them, you can face those challenges in stride and use them to help scale your business and grow your profits.

Everyone you know has the ability to be a successful entrepreneur, but most people have let the world tell them that they can’t. They believe they can’t, so they don’t. If you believe in your ideas and you’re committed to being successful, you can take these lessons and apply them to your idea and your business model. You’re going to have setbacks, and you’re going to have failures, but if you keep at it, you’ll get there.

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