If there’s one thing the stars of Shark Tank know, it’s how to make money.
Mark Cuban opened a bar before he was of legal drinking age. The brazen college campus venture lasted six short months. A scandalous snafu with a wet T-shirt contest led to the watering hole’s “sorry end.” The former bartender’s later business bets — legal ones, of the tech-related kind — fared exponentially better, eventually landing him in the millionaire club. Then, not long after, into the three commas club, the realm of billionaires.
Kevin O’Leary came into his first millions after spinning a $10,000 seed investment from his mother into an edtech startup. In not too long, Mattel scooped it up for $3.6 billion. Daymond John stitched a $100,000 seed investment from his mom (who mortgaged her house to give it to him) into FUBU. The fashion startup cleared hundreds of millions in sales within six years.
Chris Sacca’s path to millions — and later to billions — is tied to incredibly successful startups, too, though, interestingly, none of his own. He lucked out with some very early and very wise investments in Uber, Instagram, Twitter and Kickstarter, and that’s just the short list.
Lori Greiner spun her love of inventing solutions to everyday annoyances into a multi-million-dollar retail operation. Robert Herjavec, also a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, went from rags to astronomical riches within a few years of emigrating from Croatia to Canada in the pursuit of a better life. And, after failing at 22 jobs, former diner waitress Barbara Corcoran turned $1,000 she borrowed from a boyfriend into a $6 billion-dollar New York City real estate empire that’s still going strong.
We recently caught up with all seven Shark Tank star investors on the Culver City, Calif., set of the hit show. There, from behind the scenes of Sony Pictures’ Stage 30, they shared their advice on how to become a millionaire. Here’s what they told us:
Barbara Corcoran: Be competitive and pigheaded.
“If you want to be really rich, you better decide early to start a business of your own. It’s only when you put yourself in charge that you have a shot at becoming rich.
Every business is born out of an individual’s intense passion and a real need to succeed, so you’ll need enough passion to get started, but also enough to get through the intense 12-hour days when the chips are down and everything and everyone seems against you. But, if you’re competitive and pigheaded enough to get over the failures without wasting time feeling sorry for yourself, and if you can inspire enough good people to join you, you can pretty much become as rich as you want.”
Mark Cuban: Work hard and do whatever it takes.
“There’s being wealthy and doing well and having your dreams come true. And there’s being in a situation where things escalate. Whether it’s me or Chris Sacca, the stock market had gone nuts. I was rich and I was happy, but I don’t know that I’d have multiple billions of dollars.
“To become a millionaire, you’ve really got to find something that you love to do because it’s going to take so much work that you can’t just say, ‘OK, this is the one industry I can make a lot of money in.’ Or, and I get this all the time, which is crazy: ‘I want to be rich. What kind of company should I start?’ You can’t do that. It doesn’t work like that.
“You’ve got to be good at something and not only be good at it, but you’ve got to love it, and then you’re willing to work and do whatever it takes. Then, if you’re fortunate, that turns into something that creates wealth for you.
“I found out I loved computers and I taught myself how to program. I had no problem working 20 straight hours learning something or coding. That led to building and selling my first company. But it wasn’t like, ‘How am I going to get rich? Let me just start that company in that industry’ because there’s going to be somebody who’s going to know that business better than you do and is going to kick your ass.”
Lori Greiner: Do what you love and do it well.
“Find something you love to do, that you are passionate about and also good at. Don’t have the goal to be a millionaire. Have the goal to be successful and plan to give it all you’ve got. Critically important, make sure you are hands-on and the one driving things because no one will care about your business like you do. Be involved in all details and be aggressive at attaining your goals, and know how to pivot when necessary…”
Read what the other sharks have to say @