'Undercover Billionaire' Grant Cardone: This is 'the biggest mistake I made in business'

"2008 came and my two companies got destroyed."

Grant Cardone is the bestselling author of "The 10X Rule" and CEO of seven privately held companies.
Photo by Ray Kachatorian

Grant Cardone, who starred in Discovery's "Undercover Billionaire" earlier this year, wants to help young entrepreneurs avoid making what he says was "the biggest mistake I made in business."

"I went at it alone, and that's what I don't want for these young entrepreneurs," he says.

Cardone is the New York Times-bestselling author of "If You're Not First, You're Last" and the author of "The 10X Rule." He's the CEO of seven privately held companies, and he travels the world consulting for Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, start-ups, and governments on business expansion.

Now that he's seen success in real estate, sales training, publishing, and consulting, Cardone has set his sights on tech. Cardone and his business partner Jared Yellin, a tech entrepreneur, have started the 10X Incubator. Their goal is to create and help launch 10,000 tech companies over the next 10 years.

Helping budding entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground has reminded Cardone of some of the mistakes he made when he was getting started. "In 2008, I had two companies. ... I was probably worth at the time, I don't know, $6 or $8 million. I thought I was the s---," he says. "And 2008 came and my two companies got destroyed."

Despite his setbacks, over the last 11 years, Cardone has taken his companies from "300 customers to 3 million customers," and he's seen sales grow from "$3 million a year to this year we'll probably do $150 million," he says. Having the right people around you, he adds, is crucial if you want to succeed.

'Nobody can do anything alone'

One of the reasons many entrepreneurs give up is because "it's going to take more money, it's going to take longer," he says. Underestimating the commitment is why "most [young entrepreneurs] will bail out, they'll quit, even with a great idea."

One of the things Cardone underestimated was the number of people he would need in his corner to support his dream. "Nobody can do anything alone. The team has got to be bigger, and you've gotta have people around you that are supporting you," he says.

That's where the "10X mentality" comes in, he says. For example, it may take you reaching out to 10 potential clients or investors just to get one "maybe." That's a start, but "one 'maybe' can't fund a business, so that means you're going to have to make thousands of contacts just to get just a few customers in the beginning," he says.

Hearing the word "no" is less of a blow when you have the right people on your side. "You need a team around you that's going to support you through the disappointment and discouragement, and people that believe in you," Cardone says.

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Video by Courtney Stith

Caveat: Don't go to people who love you for business advice

That doesn't mean it's smart to ask just anyone for help. "The natural thing for all of us to do when we're disappointed is to go to people that love us, and that is the wrong place to go," Cardone says. "When you go to your mom or dad they're going to tell you, 'Son, I love you just the way you are, it's going to be fine, if your idea doesn't make it, it's no big deal.'"

Your parents are "the worst place to go for business advice," he says. "Because your mom loves you and she's going to give you the one deathblow to an entrepreneur: 'I love you just the way you are.'"

You've gotta have people around you that are supporting you.
Grant Cardone
Author of "The 10X Rule"

Instead, turn to people who have turned their business dreams into reality, who can offer realistic feedback and a more clear-eyed assessment of what you might need to do next. "You need to go to maniacs like me and Jared who are like, 'Hey bro, you can do this, we can do this,'" he says.

Then comes commitment. You need to prioritize success in this endeavor over everything else, Cardone says. "Go give your mom a hug at Thanksgiving, because the rest of the year you're with us."

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