I started my first businesses while still playing in the NFL—and they were valuable learning experiences, even though they weren’t always successful. I’ve learned that, no matter what you’re doing, success never comes easy. It takes a lot of hard work, time, and learning from experience. To really learn how to build a business, you have to do it! Sometimes you fail, but we learn from our failures and make sure never to repeat those mistakes. I learned one of the most important lessons of my career from my attempt to get into the fast food industry.
The business was called Scrambler’s Village, and it was the first (and last) time I ever raised money for a business, taking out a $50,000 loan from the bank. That loan was an entire year’s salary for me in football at the time. Eventually, not only did the business not work, but then I realized that the bank wanted their money back! I learned from that experience never to borrow money to start a business. From then until now, I only use my own money, because when it’s my money that’s behind the company, I’m going to work that much harder and be more disciplined to create a valuable product or service, to make it really work. I have to be responsible and create something sustainable, not try to borrow my way to success.
Fran Tarkenton is an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and member of the AMAC Advisory Board. He is the founder and CEO of Tarkenton Companies, providing small business services through GoSmallBiz.com and retirement solutions through Tarkenton Financial.