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The Starting Point

In this transcript, Clay Clark (US SBA Entrepreneur of the Year) discusses with David Robinson (NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and founder of the $300 million Admiral Capital Fund) starting where you are with what you have on, one of the best business schools in Michigan!

Clay:    Now at some point in your idea forming phase you actually had to start the carver, you actually had to do step one.

David:    Right.

Clay:    Napoleon Hill, one of my favorite success authors, he says, “The time will never be just right, you must act now.” What was the first step? You guys had the meeting, you and your wife are talking, you said yes we’re going to do this. And then … Do you remember was it getting the golden shovel and digging a hole? Was it … Did you go out to a land and dig?

David:    No, digging the hole was the last step.

Clay:    Okay, what was the first thing you did?

David:    The first step is starting to assemble a team that can help you fulfill your goal. You have a certain expertise, you have a certain excitement and joy that you bring to the table. But there are a lot of pieces that need to come together.

    You need community support, you need … There’s a lot of things. You may need financing. There’s a lot of things that you’re going to need. You have to start assembling a team of people that can help you number one strategically plan and think through what you’re getting ready to do. And then, number two, a team that can actually help you accomplish what you want to do. You need experts in those areas.

    If you’re going to start a business, if you’re going to start a school, you had better be the expert in that area because you’re going to be competing against other people who think they know how to do it.

    That was my step one. Assemble a team that has the proper experts, has the proper financing, and the proper planners to accomplish my goal.

Clay:    I want to take it back here just one step because I feel like, again, if someone’s watching this you might go yeah, well you’re David Robinson, you’re seven feet tall, you won some gold medals, what am I going to do. I want to start a bakery and I have seven dollars and I’m working at Target, how am I going to do this?

    I can say when I started my first business I didn’t have a lot of capital, I didn’t have any capital really, and I thought you know what I’m just going to go work construction and I’m going to get capital that way. And then when I came back I had capital needed but I didn’t have a team. I remember trying to think I’m going to wage war against the world and win by myself. And quickly I found out I’m going to need a little help here.

    I reached out to some college guys and I said hey guys, if I pay x amount can you help market these events for us and I’ll pay a commission every time that you book a party I’ll pay you a little commission. I didn’t have any cash though, Dave, I couldn’t pay anybody a salary.

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David:    Right.

Clay:    I just said hey dudes if you book something I’ll pay you a little commission. And I had to make a team without a big budget. I think these principles apply whether I’m starting a deejay company out of my dorm room or whether I’m starting a school we have to build a team of experts and get some financing.

David:    Or become the expert yourself. George Washington Carver, we go back to him, a great example. He had less that you did.

Clay:    Yeah.

David:    How does he start his empire? He started where he was. He became the expert. He became the expert in botany, he became the expert in painting, he became the expert in creating. He makes milk from peanuts, he makes paint … He makes crayons from peanuts. He became the expert.

    You can become the expert. You became the expert in your field … You had to do that, you couldn’t afford to go hire the expert.

Clay:    Yeah.

David:    That’s what it means to start where you are. That’s what it means to use what you have. You don’t have to go hire the team you can … Sometimes people will help you because they think your idea’s a good idea.

Clay:    You can become the expert. You just said that. You can become the expert. To the person watching this, they can become the expert.

David:    Now with the internet and access to information we have that is unprecedented, you can become the expert. Sometimes knowing where people have failed and where people have succeeded, you’re in a better position than those people out there doing the job already.

    I knew I had an advantage on many of these schools because they were already operating. And some of these schools, public schools, they’re tied down by a system. They can’t change. They don’t have the flexibility. I had to look at what are my advantages in being a brand new school. I get to start something, I get to learn from what everybody is doing right now.

    There’s a lot of things that you have right now that you could take advantage of. You can find people that can help you learn, you can find people that can help finance your projects, you can find all kinds of things that you need if you’re resourceful enough.


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