Daymond John: 5 Reasons Why Education Is the Key to Your Success

How to learn valuable business lessons, even without a college degree.

The Shark Group
Entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Daymond John

This is a guest post by Daymond John, a Shark on ABC's "Shark Tank" and the founder of FUBU, which has generated $6 billion in sales.

People always ask what my number one piece of advice for entrepreneurs is. My answer? Never stop learning.

You don't necessarily need a college degree or an MBA to be successful, though. I believe that there's no substitute for experience. Every day, you're getting better, stronger and smarter just by hustling and making things happen.

I never went to college because I couldn't afford it, but that doesn't mean I wasn't constantly educating myself. While working at Red Lobster, I was always listening, asking questions and learning about the business from wait staff, shift managers, and customers. I learned the fundamentals: customer service, inventory control, employee management, and more.

When it comes to learning and educating yourself, your antenna should always be up, searching for ways to make yourself sharper and more well informed about the business you're in (and the world in general). There should never come a time where you say, "that's it — I know everything I need to know." Plus, with technology and the ever-changing job landscape, you can't afford to fall behind.

Education truly is key. Here are my five reasons why:

1. Education expands your network and resources.

You could have strong entrepreneurial skills and be a natural-born salesperson, but without connections and resources, your revving business is going to be stuck in neutral.

Build your resources by being a sponge and absorbing everything. Listen. Read. Research. Ask questions. When someone recommends a resource, check it out. Never say no to any suggestions or advice without doing your homework and checking it out for yourself.

Build your network by taking courses and attending workshops, networking events, trade shows, and conferences. You'll meet a whole lot of people who have been where you are now and who can share their experiences and knowledge with you. I attended countless workshops while starting FUBU that taught me a lot. So much so that I took my years of experience, business successes, and failures and created a program called Daymond John's Success Formula where I have a team of instructors who will teach everything you need to know to start and scale your business. As much as I wish I could sit down one-on-one with every entrepreneur to discuss their business, unfortunately, I can't. This program gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge, experience, and resources with aspiring entrepreneurs across the country.

2. Education sharpens your financial intelligence.

After I found initial success with FUBU, I lacked financial intelligence and discipline, and it cost me. The Notorious B.I.G. said it best, "Mo Money, Mo Problems." I've seen it happen all around me. Some of my favorite athletes, musicians, and businesspeople watched their fortunes sink like a stone because they didn't do their homework or surround themselves with the right people. Financial intelligence is non-negotiable and the only way to get it is by educating yourself.

3. Education gives you access to mentors.

I always say that life is a series of mentors. My first mentor was my mom. As a single working mother, she was, in my eyes, the ultimate entrepreneur. I learned my work ethic from her. She was one of the few people who believed in me and supported me when I was getting FUBU off the ground. Many mentors have come into my life since then.

So, where do you find them? Everywhere. A mentor doesn't need to be a celebrity or untouchable person. In fact, you may find mentors in places you'd least expect. You may be stuck in a job you hate (I've had lots of them), but while you're plugging away, seek out management, an executive team and seasoned co-workers who can teach you a thing or two, or answer your questions. Still in school? Talk to the professors, teaching assistants and students you admire. Attend workshops, trade shows, and conferences, and strike up a conversation with coaches and other attendees. You'll find that most people really do want to help you and are glad to answer your questions.

4. Education protects your assets, including your biggest one – you.

As an entrepreneur, you're your own brand. You're irreplaceable. That makes you an asset. And all assets need protection. Be sure to put a plan in place that protects your good name. It's best to seek professional advice here. Educate yourself and then find an attorney who specializes in asset protection. Tailor a plan that benefits and protects you. Trust me, not doing homework will cost you in the long run.

5. Education helps you channel your energy.

One of the main reasons you are an entrepreneur is because you are bursting with energy and ideas. You're constantly on the move, your wheels are always turning, and you don't know the meaning of "a day off." That caffeinated intensity will get you far, but you should learn how to navigate every ounce of that powerful gift to your advantage. Channel that energy into something useful: take a class, read a book, or watch a YouTube video on entrepreneurship. Building your business is important, but don't keep your nose to the grindstone so closely that you develop a bad case of tunnel vision. Get macro as well as micro, by taking a step back, taking a breath, and looking at the big picture. Find the resources and people who can help you think differently — and more intelligently — about what you are doing. Let them in! This will help you transform your energy in the most useful way so you can take the next steps toward achieving your goals.

Knowledge is power!

Click here to learn more about Daymond John's Success Formula.

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