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PROFILE: Q & A With Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec

Robert Herjavec

Business Insights From Proven Professionals

Recently, I was given the opportunity to chat with my favorite shark from ABC’s hit show Shark Tank, serial entrepreneur Robert Herjavec. He was happy to share some business insights with me, and you.

As he seems on the show, Herjavec is positive, affable, smart and savvy, and his story is a classic rags to riches tale. He arrived in Halifax, Canada on a boat with his parents after escaping communism in the former Yugoslavia.

People have challenges in life. Stay positive. Be positive. People will want to work with you.

As he says, he had but “one suitcase, few prospects, $20, and no understanding of the English language.”

Starting out delivering newspapers and waiting tables, Herjavec launched a computer company from his basement, became an entrepreneur, and eventually sold one of his businesses to AT&T, and another to Nokia for $225 Million.

Sitting Down for a Q and A With Robert Herjavec

Q: You started with so little and became incredibly successful in business. What do you think you did right?

RH: There really is no silver bullet. What it took, and what it takes, is constant perseverance. You have to strive to be a little bit better every day. When I was a waiter, I wanted to be the best waiter I could be and worked to be better at it every day. You know, eventually we all get our asses kicked, so what you have to do is just to keep going, and work to improve at whatever it is you do.

Q: So how important is one’s mindset then? There are a lot of people who come on your show, for instance, who seem to have a great idea, but don’t get funding. What is it then that makes for a great entrepreneur?

A: It is human nature, especially as we get older, to look for stability in our lives. But if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to fight against that somewhat, as starting a business requires movement. You cannot stay still.

There are all sorts of different characteristics that make for being a successful entrepreneur, and I think the first is simply perseverance.  But you also must have what I call a “foolish belief” in yourself. What I mean by that is that you really have to believe in yourself and your vision, but at the same time, you cannot come across as too boastful.

The other thing, and the biggest mistake I see, is that as an entrepreneur, it is your job to add value – to your business, your invention, your customers, and so on. Yes, your idea might be unique and different, but does it add value?

Q: That’s interesting. When I watch Shark Tank, one thing I notice is that the people who seem to be the most successful not only have a great idea, but they also have a high degree of emotional intelligence. They can read the room.

Do you think that that is accurate for entrepreneurs generally? And I was just wondering – how long do people actually spend with you all, pitching their inventions?

A: Yes, I do think that is accurate. As an investor, I need to believe in not only the product, but the person. People have challenges in life. Stay positive. Be positive. People will want to work with you.

You know, that room is very stressful. The entrepreneurs spend about an hour in front of us, of which you only see about four and a half minutes. In the beginning, they are the ones who are stressed, trying to impress us. But after, once we see that they have something special, the tables are turned as we sharks try and impress them.

Q: I know that one of the investments you made on the show that you are very enthusiastic about was something called Chord Buddy (a device that easily helps people learn to play the guitar.) How is that going?

A: That was one of the best investments ever on the show. After the show aired, Travis (Perry, the inventor) had $500,000 in sales. One thing to understand is that sometimes the illogical works.

What I mean by that is that Chord Buddy is a fun product and Travis is a fun guy. I love that. I speak with Travis all of the time, partly because I need to for business, but mostly because I like to. He’s a great guy. It’s fun and a fun business.

Q: Entrepreneurship is great, isn’t it? I love entrepreneurs for their passion.

A: What is great about entrepreneurship is that entrepreneurs create the tangible from the intangible. Most don’t think that the world owes them anything. Instead, they know it’s up to them to make it happen.

Learn more about Robert Herjavec at his website now.

[Photo Credit: wcaltd.com]

About Steve Strauss

Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.

  • Dee Relyea

    Love this Q and A. As an an instructor for the SBDC at UW-Madison, I think I’ll add Robert’s quote to my seminar: “What is great about entrepreneurship is that entrepreneurs create the tangible from the intangible. Most don’t think that the world owes them anything. Instead they know it’s up to them to make it happen.”