Guide

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's big tip for starting a biz

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank
J. Meric | Getty Images
Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank

Career gurus and self-improvement advocates sprinkle their speeches with long to-do lists for aspiring entrepreneurs, but according to one self-made billionaire, only one thing is needed: action.

"If you really want it, it's up to the entrepreneur to go make it happen," Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, told CNBC.

Plank started his business from his grandmother's basement and says it's always a good time to begin a venture.

"If you're going to start a company, it's not going to be in the millions of dollars, but it's going to be something — for a lot of these kids — out of the trunk of their car, the same way that I did," he said.

The strategy is to find people who believe in the company's vision. Before Under Armour was a promising business, Plank sought out financial assistance from a local bank in Washington, D.C., Abigail Adams National Bank.

"It was the vision of the bank president," he said. "[She] looked at me and said ... 'I believe in you and I'm going to give you a chance.'"

The bank approved a $250,000 loan for the apparel company. The loan was 88 percent subsidized by the government.

"The Small Business Administration was fundamental in helping our company," he said. "There's great initiative from the government if you know the right places to look."

Today Under Armour's market cap tops $17 billion.

Running a business is not the only thing on the Maryland-based CEO's agenda; instead he's set out to guide and inspire other up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Yearly, Plank searches for the next big business venture via Cupid's Cup, his company's national business competition.

But what qualities does the lucky winner need to have?

"I want people to believe in themselves; I want intellectual curiosity; I want someone who realizes that they don't know it all and that they're dying to learn," he said.

The perks of winning the Cupid's Cup competition include more than $100,000 in cash and access to Plank's professional network.

For those who want to start a business, Plank encourages them to take the leap and have "the courage to get out there," despite seemingly unfavorable circumstances.

"People get way too caught up with what's happening when you're starting a business," Plank told CNBC.

"There's enough people telling you what you can't do," he said. "Find out if somebody is willing to exchange your goods or products or services (whatever it is) for the hard cold cash in their pockets — and there's no bad time to do that."

CORRECTION: Under Armour's market cap stands at more than $17 billion. That figure was misstated in an earlier version of this article.