Starting a business without fund: Take a job, start with 20% – Daymond John, CEO of FUBU


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If you don’t have the capital to back your business, you can start by taking a pay job to fund the business and pay your bills while you set aside 20% of your time daily to run that business. That is the tactic that pushed FUBU founder and Chief Executive Officer, Daymond John, to becoming eventually his own boss.

It is often said that when you decided to go into business you need give up everything else – or burn all the bridges.

Daymond said this doesn’t always work. He said you need money to make money; and if you don’t have sufficient money to invest into the business and pay your bills, you may end up frustrated. He advised entrepreneurs to ‘go hard instead of going all out’.

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FUBU has sold over $6 billion worth of clothes globally and earned Daymond John $300 million

According to him, “The only way you go hard is to put about 20 percent of your time into the area you want to go. [Otherwise] you’ve got to do what you need to do to keep the lights on today.”

“I made $30,000 a year, which equated to $150,000. I had medical benefits. I was taking food home at the end of the night, so I had free food. And I was using the staff at Red Lobster to help me at the flea markets,” he explained.

John kept ‘his light on’ by taking a pay job at Red Lobster where he worked shifts for 5 years while plowing his savings into building the FUBU brand. He rented extra rooms for sewing. He also ensured marketing and distribution were carried out with his savings. He did all that within 20% of his time – equivalent of 1 day in a week.

This is instructive for intending entrepreneurs. Get a good job. Devote 20% of your time into building your business until it is fully established and ready to support you.

Daymond’s FUBU brand has gone global. According to, a media that follows business, “John started FUBU with $40 worth of fabric and grew it into a company that has done more than $6billion in global sales and made him a fortune of nearly $300 million”.

There are 2 important lessons to take home from Daymond John:

a. You need money to make money – If you don’t have sufficient fund to start or run your business, take a paying your and design a calendar that will keep you connected to your business while you take pay cheques.

b. Don’t take your eyes off your goals no matter the challenges – Daymond John knew what he wanted to achieve and paid the price through devotion and making personal sacrifice

Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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