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Billion Dollar Buyer Tilman Fertitta Explains What Young Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed

Tilman Fertitta explains the three things entrepreneurs need to succeed.

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BY Ken Sterling - 06 Feb 2018

Billion Dollar Buyer Tilman Fertitta Explains What Young Entrepreneurs Need to Succeed

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Tilman Fertitita is a success and knows exactly what it takes to make others successful. From one steakhouse in Texas, he has grown his entertainment and restaurant enterprises into a 3.5 billion dollar empire. He now owns over 600 properties, employs more than 60,000 people, and does business with over 150 million customers every year.

When not running his restaurants and casinos, he can be found starring on CNBC's Billion Dollar Buyer (watch Wednesday, 10pm ET), where he samples the products/services of small startups to be used in his many properties. The show just started its third season and is receiving more rave reviews.

Fertitta's goal is to help small businesses by giving the owners entrepreneurial advice and then getting an order large enough to put them on the map--provided of course, the company can deliver the goods to the 'Tilman' standard.

In a recent chat I had with Tilman about the show and his business views, I found him to be down to earth and as savvy as he appears on TV. With Fertitta, what you see is what you get. "People say, I'm just a normal guy," said Fertitta. "You can't take yourself too seriously. Just because you make a few dollars doesn't mean you're more important."

Though, he did admit viewers don't see all sides of him on the show. "I don't have as much patience with myself as I do for the companies I help," said Fertitta. "I push myself harder than the companies on the show, mostly because I know my own limitations and how far I can push."

Fertitta is a busy man, but in the short time we talked, he expanded on what he feels the three keys to success are for new entrepreneurs.

1. Know your numbers.

To do well, Fertitta stressed an entrepreneur must know everything about the income and expenses of their business to the smallest detail. If they don't have a handle on the numbers for their inventory, overhead, staffing, suppliers, etc., then an entrepreneur won't be able to take their business to the next level.

"For example, on the show a business owner might not understand to get some order with me to net 30, that they have to pay for the supplies immediately. They might not have the cash on hand, so they can't even do the deal with me."

2. Choose the right partner.

When starting a business, Fertitta noted that new entrepreneurs tend to partner with someone who possesses the same skill sets as they do. Engineers pick engineers when starting a business, for example, and don't pick human resources people, or operations people. However, you need a variety of skill sets to succeed. "If you have a partner," Fertitta said, "make sure they have a dif.ferent talent than you. If you know numbers, then your partner should know marketing or operations."

3. Diversify your business.

Fertitta emphasized that you should diversify your business so that if one area goes bad, there are other areas that will keep your business afloat. For example, on a recent episode of Billion Dollar Buyer a farm-to-table business diversified by raising cattle, chickens, and vegetables. When a flood came, some crops were wiped out, but others survived, so the business stayed afloat.

Diversity has also been a key to success for Fertitta. "I've always bet the farm," said Feritta, "and if the deal went bad, I could have been wiped out. But when you keep things in silos, if one area goes bad, it doesn't take down the whole business."

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