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Shark Tank star Daymond John: How to create a successful business during COVID-19

Brian Sozzi
·3 min read

Starting a business smack in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is not for the faint of heart. But it could probably be done successfully if you adhere to a few key principles, says Shark Tank star and business mogul Daymond John.

“You have to have a digital platform. You have to know who your customer is and be able to contact them even if you have a retail store or not,” John told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “There are only three ways to deal with any customer in the world. Acquire a new one, up-sell one or make one buy more frequently. If you have their information and keep over delivering for them, then that’s what you need. You need to be able to push content out and then after that, you have to find out what more they want and create it for them.”

John, 51, speaks from experience.

From humble beginnings in Queens, N.Y., John built fashion pioneer Fubu. The business has done more than $6 billion in sales to date. John has parlayed his success with Fubu into an investor in small up-and-coming businesses by way of starring on Shark Tank. He is also a motivational speaker and works closely on supporting the growth of minority-owned businesses, as seen by his upcoming Black Entrepreneurs Day initiative.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Daymond John visits Build to discuss his book Powershift at Build Studio on March 10, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Daymond John visits Build to discuss his book Powershift at Build Studio on March 10, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Today, John’s net worth is estimated at $300 million.

To be sure, John offers up very practical, useful tips in a business world that continues to be ravaged by the pandemic. While big businesses such as airlines United Airlines have shed workers and retailers like Lord & Taylor have gone bust and garner most of the media attention, it’s the small businesses that are feeling the most pain during the pandemic. That pain is becoming more acute absent a fresh round of stimulus from lawmakers prior to the Nov. 3 election. And so is the lack of people to try starting a new business amidst a period of heightened economic uncertainty.

Roughly 43% of small- and mid-sized businesses said they have seen a significant to severe impact from the pandemic, according to a new poll from CBIZ . The findings showed the majority (84%) felt at least some impact from the pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown. Over 51% of those polled said sales have been significantly impacted from the situation. The outlook for growth and hiring remains weak, the survey suggested.

The survey of 1,600 businesses in the U.S. was conducted between Aug. 25 and Sept. 15.

John appears to be taking some of his own advice, too. When asked what he has been up during the pandemic, he tells Yahoo Finance a lot of reading.

“I’ve been studying a digital marketing course because I keep doing my homework because the new brands that I invest in while I have experts, I want to know what your customer acquisition costs are, how you are comparing to my company and how you are not. After that I am going to study a Facebook course and an Amazon course,” John said.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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