Kevin O’Leary seems like he’s all about the money on Shark Tank, but the serial entrepreneur told Huffington Post business men and women shouldn’t forget about what else is important in life: the arts. O’Leary, who is also a photographer and sometimes musician, told the publication it’s important for entrepreneurs to have interests that go beyond crunching numbers and making sales.
“There is a yin and yang to business, but don’t forget the arts. Combining both sides makes you more powerful.”
O’Leary attributes his success to allowing time to express his creative side, including entering his photography in shows. His participation in a recent event at the South Hampton Art Show raised money for the Perry J. Cohen Foundation in support of teenage entrepreneurs.
Perhaps surprisingly for Shark Tank viewers, who often see entrepreneurs tout their success on crowdfunding sites, O’Leary dismisses that marker as an indicator of future success. Although crowdfunding can bring cash to a new company, it doesn’t mean the enterprise will last for the long term, or that it is worthy of a Shark Tank investment.
“We don’t care whether someone outsold their goal by a thousand percent, because it’s not a product that has been tested by the market yet. It’s a concept that’s been tested by the market and it looks like customers like it, but they haven’t tried the product yet.”
O’Leary also has a cut-off point after which start-up entrepreneurs should abandon the effort and move on to something else: three years. Using his off-cited phrase from Shark Tank, he told Huffington Post anything that isn’t profitable after that crucial 36-month period is not a business, but a hobby.
Although stopping short of endorsing Donald Trump, or even his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, O’Leary told CNBC last week that Trump’s recently unveiled economic plan can bring in some voters, as long as the brash businessman stays the course of his stated intentions.
“If he can actually deliver a growth strategy which would include a 15 percent small business tax, they [small business owners] are voting for him. Repatriation of capital is good for large companies some of them will start to listen to that if he stays on message on that. Every farmer wants to see the state tax repealed. It’s so unfair to work your whole life on a piece of land and have 55 percent stolen from you 90 days after you die. Every farmer will vote for that.”
On CNBC’s Squawk Box, O’Leary discussed at length his dissatisfaction with regulatory regimes which he says are extremely costly for small businesses. He said his portfolio of companies includes 32 small businesses with profits in the range of $5 million to $50 million. Fees and taxes, especially in places like New York, have greatly increased, according to O’Leary, putting a great strain on companies trying to build sales.
“We need someone to open this up, and reduce regulations so we can get more job growth.
“I bet most people don’t even know that if their rent is more than $500,000 you have to pay tax on it.”
O’Leary said that even if businesses hire legal assistance to try to comply with various regulations, they are simply unable to do so.
But companies who want to cut costs have one option: apply to be on Shark Tank. O’Leary said the show’s steady viewership acts as a huge reduction in the cost of acquiring new customers. Shark Tank had over 100,000 applicants this past season.
Shark Tank airs on ABC and CNBC.
[Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]