The news media became ever more enamored with Robert Herjavec — the nice shark on Shark Tank — since he became an item with Kym Johnson of Dancing With the Stars. As a wildly successful entrepreneur, he would probably prefer people focus on his book, You Don’t Have to Be a Shark (St. Martin’s Press), which debuted May 17, 2016. It followed two bestsellers: and .
To find out what entrepreneurs really want to know about him, I asked the 16,000+ members of the Shark Tank Entrepreneurs Facebook group to post questions I could ask on their behalf.
Herjavec was nice enough to email answers to their questions about the most effective way for businesses to get exposure, what he would do if he all of the sudden went bankrupt and much more.
If you lost everything today, all your investments, money, etc., what would you do?
Herjavec: I would start again. Yes, I would be frustrated and devastated for a moment – emphasis on the moment – because when you let frustration and the emotion of that pain take over, that’s when you’re really lost. I have actually bet some friends that if given the opportunity, I could start again in terms of my business.
It’s the best time to start a business in America because of the access to connected technology. That being said, it’s also the worst time because we are all on a level playing field in terms of internet access. I still think I could do it.
What’s was the most effective thing you did to get more exposure for your business (ex: advertising, networking with the right people, strategic partnerships, etc.)?
Herjavec: I did all of the above in some way shape or form. You have to find the balance that works for your company and industry. Working with the right people and building strategic partnerships has helped take our business to the next level.
If you were going to start a business right now what would be a good niche?
Herjavec: I’m biased but would say IT security or cybersecurity. It’s a very hot industry.
Barbara always says you should start a business because you found a solution to a problem. Do you agree with her, or should you follow your passion?
Herjavec: I completely agree but will take it a step further. You have to have a customer, otherwise you won’t have a business for long. People are way too afraid to reach out and cold call a customer or get their opinion. Without customers you won’t survive so make sure you’re actually solving a problem yes. But even more so, make sure that people care you’ve solved it for them and want to buy whatever you’re selling.
Who makes for a better business investment: women or men? Why?
Herjavec: There’s absolutely no difference based on gender. It’s all about the business, the person, his/her passion and the opportunity.
What’s the best advice you can give for any startup to get to the ramp-up phase?
Herjavec: You’re not going to sleep. You’re not going to have work-life balance. You’re going to sacrifice time with family and friends. And you just need to accept that. You need to live, sleep and breathe your business and thrive off of the opportunity for growth.
I’d also say reach out to as many other entrepreneurs as possible to get their stories. Accept advice but be able to sift through the good and bad.
What is different and/or more challenging about being a startup entrepreneur today than 10 years ago?
Herjavec: Everyone is on a level playing field with the internet. We are so connected and that access to technology is incredible.
What is the worst mistake an entrepreneur can make?
Herjavec: The same one twice.
How do you feel about entrepreneurs using Kickstarter and GoFundMe-type platforms?
Herjavec: I always advocate for testing before you jump in. I think these platforms are an incredible way to gauge your target market. These platforms are fundamentally changing the way people invest and the way new businesses seek investment.