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Global superstar Pitbull shares his advice for growing a successful small business

“If you chase the money, the money’s going to run.” 

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

“Ask for money, get advice. Ask for advice, get money twice.” 

These are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom offered by Grammy®-winning global superstar, Pitbull, during the QuickBooks small business roundtable, “Grow your business in its first year and beyond.” And, honestly, we expected nothing less from a man who is known both for his lyrics and his business acumen.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, award-winning journalist, Soledad O’Brien, sat down with Pitbull and other Latinx entrepreneurs to get their take on starting, running, and growing a successful small business. Watch it now on-demand and read on for highlights.

If the live chat was any indication, the conversation left listeners feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. (Psst! This free illustrated playbook can help.) If you missed it, or just forgot to take notes, here are a few key takeaways from Mr. Worldwide.

“No’s” fuel your fire

There’s one word every entrepreneur has heard far too many times: No. And Pitbull is no exception. Before he went on to sell over 25 million studio albums and 100 million singles, Pitbull was told ‘no.’ “They told me I’d never work,” he said. “They told me I shouldn’t be rapping with DJs and DJs shouldn’t have rappers on their records… Timber, they told me it was never going to work.”

Of course, Timber peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks and became the sixth best-selling song in 2014. “Clearly they didn’t know what they were talking about,” he said. “But I knew.”

“You’re going to run into a lot of no’s… and what you’ve got to do is allow them to be fuel to your fire,” he said. After all, he continued, Oprah was told she wasn’t made for television. Walt Disney was told he didn’t have an imagination. A young Michael Jordan was told he wasn’t good at basketball. And Pitbull was told his music wouldn’t work.

But they forged ahead. They took those no’s and used them as gasoline to propel their dreams. And according to Pitbull, that’s the key. “You have to be willing to learn and willing to fight,” he said. “Willing to say, ‘I’m going to push through this.”

And when your single reaches the top of the charts, or your business takes off despite the naysayers, “don’t say, ‘I told you so,’” he said. “Send them free [products], buy them tickets for the show.”

Mistakes are must-takes

“You have to make mistakes,” said Pitbull. “You have to fall, you have to slip, you have to fail.” He believes you have to do these things in order to learn and grow as a business. In fact, that’s one of Pitbull’s favorite sayings: “Failure is the mother of success.”

“So they’re not mistakes,” he continued, “they’re must-takes.” In other words, they’re the big ideas, the challenges, and the risks you must take—even if you fail. After all, “you don’t make mistakes,” he said, “mistakes make you.” They make you a stronger, scrappier, and smarter business.

And that’s where small businesses really have an advantage over big businesses; they’re more agile. They can adapt quickly to changes. They can take those risks and pivot as needed. They can bounce back from slips and falls and come out stronger on the other side. As Pitbull says, “you don’t go through it, you grow through it.”

But, for small business owners, that’s what keeps things interesting. Running a business is a roller coaster, “and I’ve never seen a roller coaster with a straight line,” Pitbull said. Those twists and turns are what people line up for.

Money doesn’t make you

“Don’t get in [to business] for the money,” Pitbull said. “Get in it because you love it.” Remember, “You make the money, the money doesn’t make you… if you’re only in it for the money, the money is going to start making you.” And your business is going to suffer because of it.

The key to long-lasting business success is simple (in theory): Love. “If it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s something you love, and it’s something you believe in, then that will have longevity,” he said. “That will stand the test of time.”

After all, when you believe in your business, and you’re passionate about your business, investors, partners, and customers will take note. “When it comes to business… it has to be self-first,” said Pitbull. “Love yourself first, help yourself first, believe in yourself first. That’s how you create something around you.”

There’s no “I” in team

That being said, you can’t do it all by yourself. “There’s no I in team,” Pitbull said. This isn’t a new concept by any means, but he takes it one step further. “If you run into anybody who tells you, ‘But there’s an ME,’ run the other way. That’s not somebody you want to do business with.”

So how can small business owners build a strong team of supporters?

Small business advisor Mariette Martinez says small business owners need to plan for success if they want to be successful–but you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you shouldn’t. If words like “budgeting” and “business plan” give you anxiety, turn to your team of trusted partners. “Bring in those accountants, bring in those advisors that will walk you through it and be willing to invest in your business.”

Jamahl and Natalie Grace, owners of Grace+Love Candle Co. say it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. “We get a lot of no’s,” they said. “But we have an amazing circle of friends who have supported us.” And, at the end of the day, “if you believe in your vision, somebody else will too, and you create a ripple effect.”

Remember, running a business is a journey–a journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs. But, “if you partner with the right people,” said Pitbull, “it’s a great journey.”

You’ve been saying these words wrong

Pitbull believes that things happen for a reason. If you spill your cup of coffee in the morning, are you going to allow that to ruin your day? He suggests that maybe that cup spilled for a reason. “Maybe you weren’t supposed to be in traffic, or not supposed to be at a stop sign,” he said. Rather than getting angry or frustrated about the disruption to your day, “keep moving and pour yourself a new cup.”

“Now take that analogy and apply it to your business,” he said. Are you going to allow setbacks and challenges to ruin your day or make you angry? Or are you going to enjoy the journey? After all, “you never know where your journey will take you,” he said. “Enjoy the ride! Have fun, keep learning. That’s what keeps it exciting and spicy.”

“So for everybody out there in business,” he said as his parting words, “get ready for it. It’s an amazing journey. But you’re going to hear a lot of no’s, won’ts, can’ts, don’ts, crazy, stupid, impossible!” But, according to Pitbull, we’ve been looking at these words the wrong way. “No is a new opportunity. The word can’t is can. The word don’t is do. The word won’t is won. The word crazy… well it’s just crazy–that’s why we invest in ourselves.”

Watch the full video now or get the answers to the most common questions during the roundtable.


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