Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk has been striking business agreements since turning pro at the age of 14, but one deal almost cost him his career.
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“I signed my rights away to a couple companies in the 1980s, and the products were not up to par, and they were embarrassing,” Hawk tells FOX Business.
Hawk, who was in his late teens at the time, says he eventually paid the company a great deal of money to get out of the contract. While the experience was painful for the young star, he says he is glad it happened earlier instead of later.
“The good thing is that it was only in the ’80s, so there was no YouTube or Instagram to keep it out there forever,” he says. “And I learned early on that I needed to keep control of my name and likeness, so the next time I got a licensing deal, in the 1990s, I fought for that control.”
“The Birdman” eventually got what he wanted when he inked a deal with Activision in 1999 to start releasing Pro Skater video games, a move he says “changed his life” and is responsible for most of his reported $140 million of net worth.
“It was hard, and people didn’t want to give it up,” he says. “And I never expected [video games] to be the big windfall or big opportunity, but when we started doing more sequels for the game, that is when things started to change, and I realized that I had a lot more opportunity for doing things with skating and promoting skating.”
Hawk, who just turned 50, now wants to help others succeed in business. This week, the skater partnered with Chase Ink to reveal some of the business tricks he has learned along the way.
His first piece of advice to any entrepreneur is to learn all aspects of your business because even if it doesn’t interest you, it is going to help you in the end.
“Whether it be how does retail work or purchase orders or marketing, at least learn how it functions because it is going to benefit you going forward and you are going to have a leg up on your competition,” he says.
Lastly, he says the most important thing you can do while trying to build a brand or a company is to stay true to yourself and not get distracted by what others want.