He may run a supplement empire now, but Tom Dowd began down in the trenches just like the rest of us. “I started in my father’s supermarkets, bagging groceries when I was 8 years old. I had to use a milk crate to reach over the paper bags they used back in the ‘old days.’” When he got older, he managed his own store, bounced through the ranks at GNC, then finally struck up Performance Inspired with Wahlberg. This is his best advice for launching your own business:

Stick with it

When I first got to GNC, I wanted to quit early on because of some screw-ups I went through. But my father told me, “If you’re as good as you think, and they’re as screwed up as you say, you should hang in there and kick ass.” I ended up being more successful than I could have imagined.

Surround yourself with people who are at least as driven as you are.

Vet them so you know they’re solid, then learn everything you can from them.

Don’t have an ego when it comes to asking for help or advice.

I’m always telling my son that the more you learn the more you earn!

Learn to spot opportunity

I’m constantly looking at what other companies are doing to see how we can be even better.

Be patient and deal with problems as they come

And they will come. But everything has a solution. With the right energy you’ll get through any challenge.

Trust your gut

I once had a very strange interview—the DVP kept interrupting me and told me all his problems; and the first person I was to meet was more than an hour late. I stood up to leave three times, but instinct kept me there. This was at GNC—the real start of my career!