By Daymond John

If you know my story, you know that I didn’t wait to get started as an entrepreneur. I didn’t have a fancy degree or a lot of “experience”. I had an idea and a love for hip-hop and fashion. As I told one interviewer a couple of years ago, I was frustrated that clothing companies weren’t really paying attention to inner city kids or hip-hop culture. At the same time I wanted to go on tour with rappers from my area, but I couldn’t rap or dance. I needed a way to make money while doing what I loved. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was taking the first steps toward building a brand and becoming a successful entrepreneur.

1. Start With Your Passion

First of all, no entrepreneur makes it by saying, “I want to make money.” Sure, we all want to make money, but if you want to be successful, you have to choose something that you’re passionate about. For me, when I founded FUBU, it was all about fashion, hip-hop, and creating something for my community.

2. Use Your Personality to Build Your Brand

Put yourself in your brand. The more you inject your personality into your brand, the more people will see its authenticity and how much you bring to the table. You probably know that FUBU stands for “For Us By Us,” and that’s significant. I sold clothes that rappers and kids who loved hip-hop would wear…made by a kid who loved hip-hop and going on tour with rappers. By doing this, I started to create a sense of community around my label and my brand.

3. Talk It Up

If you want to get started as an entrepreneur, you need to start building brand recognition everywhere you can. I did this by getting rappers to wear my shirts in their videos. You can do it by talking to everyone you know (and new people you meet) about your brand. Give away free merchandise. Run a guerilla marketing campaign with some really cool and recognizable stickers and post cards. Get the word out every way you can think of, and you’ll start to build a following.

4. Become a Thought Leader

Today’s market is all about trust. Your customers and clients are going to want to know that they can trust you and that they’re investing in and buying from the very best. So work on gaining their trust by giving them something for free – your thoughts and insights.

Start a blog. Guest post on other industry blogs and publications. Put out helpful YouTube videos. Post fun and educational (related) items on your brand’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. The more you show that you’re an expert and someone to turn to in your field, the more people will look to you and your brand.

5. Don’t Forget – You Were Born an Entrepreneur

Finally, I’ve said this a million times, and I’ll probably say it a million more. Everybody’s born an entrepreneur. We’re all born with the idea that we can do anything, but as time goes on, the world tells us, “No, you can’t do what you want. You have to do this instead…” Good entrepreneurs say, “Oh yes, I can!” and find a way to make it happen.

So, as you get started as an entrepreneur, remember that building your brand empire is all about authenticity and getting the word out. Anyone can come up with a great idea for a product or service, but a true entrepreneur won’t take no for an answer. A true entrepreneur will take that idea and build a brand and an empire out of it.

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