Marcus Lemonis: Not All Businesses Are Viable

While Marcus Lemonis is known as an author, entrepreneur, and host of “The Profit” on CNBC, his core mission is to invest in small business and do something for people who can’t get a shot at the big time.

At the Techstars Startup Week Detroit, powered by Chase for Business, Marcus engaged the crowd by bringing local entrepreneurs on stage, asking about their business ideas, and walking through what makes a business plan appealing to investors.

Marcus shared his personal story about being given a chance against all odds. He was born into an orphanage in another country and adopted by his mother at a young age. Growing up, he went through depression and an eating disorder, all with the self-image of the “dorky kid.” One thing he felt that evened the playing field was owning a business.

“Business for me was the great neutralizer. It was the thing that gave me a chance to be better,” said Marcus. “I was looking for that leg up that wasn’t my friend, and for everybody else that thought I was the dorky kid.”

While he reaped the rewards, he learned from his mom to give back and help those get a deserving chance, just like he did at life.

“It’s important that investing in small business was going to be my mission…my brand,” said Marcus.

Here’s some of the advice given to small business owners as they’re working towards their big chance.

Don’t Get Distracted

The most precious thing you have is time, and there’s not enough of it to accommodate the needs of a business, a family, and a life. It’s important to prioritize your tasks and demands based on what’s good for the business.

“It’s very difficult, wanting to get involved, [but it will] distract from your core business. The disciple you need to have is know what you’re good at and what you’re not,” said Marcus. 


“Think about how to spend your time and prioritize it. Not every project is a good use of your time. You have to protect your time that is good for the business and not be distracted by it.”

Network in Your Community

When you’re looking for help with your business, it’s important to put yourself out there in the community and connect the dots.

“[Networking] all sounds like a social event to get free appetizers and drinks. But what it’s really meant to do is build a wealth of knowledge of community and being linked to someone that can help them with their core business,” said Marcus.

Learn the Psychology of the Business

When a founder hires a consultant to come in and help the business, Marcus said it means they’ve gotten to a point of vulnerability with their skill set and it’s time for an expert.

Speaking directly to service providers, Marcus said before a founder can really begin to trust a provider, it’s important for them to learn the founder’s story and passion, and the psychology of the business.

“Where people struggle is that they don’t take a minute to understand the business owner, their personality, fears, what motivates them, why they do what they do, and understand the psychology,” said Marcus.


“Ignore the mistakes and build them up. You have to appeal to their inside [before] they can start to trust you.”

Not All Businesses Are Viable

During the talk Lemonis plucked two young entrepreneurs from the crowd, brothers Austin (11) and Undra (12), to pitch their three business ideas. They had an app for reporting incidents live while also calling the authorities, a lawn business, and an educational book series for kids to learn entrepreneurship, among other skills.

Like many serial entrepreneurs, it’s exciting to launch different concepts, but Marcus urged these kidpreneurs, and other founders, to focus on the most viable idea that will pay the bills.

“Every idea is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it’s viable,” said Marcus.

Speaking to these kids, Marcus loved the idea of teaching business to kids and providing a medium for parents to encourage entrepreneurship with their children.

“If you want to be a business person, regardless of age, they should be held to a higher standard, and you need to learn how to prioritize,” said Marcus.

Coping With Tough Times

When a business is struggling, the owners are going through a rollercoaster of emotions and stress. Marcus said it’s important to not let these feeling boil over to other parts of your life or businesses that are going well.

“I definitely do get depressed about things that don’t work out. It affects my psychology [and] I start to question my own judgement,” said Marcus. “I have to deal with every success and failure in a vacuum and have to take responsibility for my portion of the failure. But can’t let it spill over into other businesses.”

Read more about startup events on TechCo

This article is part of a Techstars Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Techstars Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Read the rest of our Startup Week series on TechCo.

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Written by:
Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.
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