Blue-Chip Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Empire-Building Tips

Not everyone can have Tim Ferriss or Eric Ries as a personal mentor–which is why we’re giving you their 10 most useful tips for building uber-successful businesses.

Blue-Chip Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Empire-Building Tips

You’re on your grind. You have the motivation. But you need mentorship. That’s where Build-a-Business comes in.


Each year since 2010, Shopify’s Build-A-Business online entrepreneurship competition has inspired and helped thousands of e-tailers set up shop. The prize for the best performers this year? A $50,000 investment and mentorship from one of four mentors: Lean Startup author Eric Ries, Swissmiss founder Tina Roth Eisenberg, 4-Hour Workweek guru Tim Ferriss, or FUBU founder Daymond John. The process? Dream up something (great) to sell, build a store on Shopify, grow your business, and make for the winners’ circle, like boutique casemaker Dodocase or coffee contraptions Joulies. This year, more than 10,000 businesses have launched this way, creating $50 million in gross merchandise value since August.

While bringing your ideas to market is your job, the mentors have dropped a few breadcrumbs to help you along the way.

Bottom Line:

  • Want a four-hour work week? Tim Ferriss says to target your monthly income and work backward from there.
  • If you want to get big in retail, FUBU founder Daymond John says to “always start off with your local store and become a local hero,” then grow from there.
  • Be consistent and be loving, Tina Roth Eisenberg says; with anything you deliver to customers, let them know there’s a human on the other end.
  • “We need to treat everything we do as entrepreneurs as a scientific experiment designed to help us figure out if we’re actually on the path to a sustainable business,” Eric Ries says.
  • Be succinct: “You should be able to summarize your company on the back of a business card,” Daymond John says.
  • “The best entrepreneurs I’ve ever met are all good communicators,” Tim Ferriss says. How do you get better? Practice. How? Write.
  • While numbers are important, Eisenberg says that we “need to listen to our gut” a little bit more. If you shift your mindset to your body, you’ll get another perspective.
  • “A pivot is a change in strategy without a change in vision,” Eric Ries, the coiner of the term, says. Also: be tenacious, but not mortally stubborn.
  • To scale your brand, make strategic partnerships: Daymond John started FUBU as a men’s apparel company, and partnering into women’s, bags, and scents helped the business grow from $50 million to $350 million.
  • Put the 80/20 rule into everything you do. Tim Ferriss does. You get most of your value from 20 percent of your work, meaning you can make tactical cuts.

Want your mentor lessons in full? Check these:

Tim Ferriss On How To Start Your Million Dollar Side Business
Tina Roth Eisenberg’s 8 Mantras For Success
FUBU Founder Daymond John’s Advice For Launching Multi-Million-Dollar Businesses
Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere. Eric Ries Knows What They Have In Common

Learn more about the competition at


[Image: Flickr user Nazly Ahmed]


About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.