The Definitive Guide to Business with Marcus Lemonis

Marcus Lemonis: Working for someone else first is key to being a successful entrepreneur

The first step to being a boss is working for one, according to Marcus Lemonis, a self-made millionaire and star of CNBC's "The Profit."

"I meet a lot of young entrepreneurs, and they talk about how they want to graduate from school and open a business," Lemonis said. "And I have very strong advice against people that do that: If you want to be a good entrepreneur and you're coming out of college, I really strongly believe that you have to work for somebody else first."

Working for a good boss is an education in what it takes, and working for a bad boss teaches you what not to do, he says.

Marcus Lemonis
Danny Moloshok | Reuters
Marcus Lemonis

"Understand what it feels like to work for a great boss — or a terrible one," Lemonis said. "Understand what's entailed in owning a business. It's not just showing up and telling people you're the boss."

Lemonis himself has been both an employee and a boss. After graduating from college, he worked in car sales. He went on to be a manager in the automotive business.

From there, he moved up the ranks in the RV business, eventually becoming chairman of Camping World and Good Sam, the market leader for RVs, camping accessories and RV maintenance and repair.

While entrepreneurship may be in vogue, it's not always as glamorous as it seems.

"People think they're going to be able to come and go as they please, or take money out of the account when they want to — not in any business I've ever seen," said Lemonis.

It's important to learn that when you're the boss, "there's no glory and plenty of criticism," he said. "You're responsible for a lot of people, and you're not leaving at 5."