Make It

NFL legend Emmitt Smith shares his best business advice

Emmitt Smith will serve as co-owner of The Gents Place alongside President Ben Davis
Source: The Gents Place
Emmitt Smith will serve as co-owner of The Gents Place alongside President Ben Davis

In his life off the field, NFL legend Emmitt Smith has fully embraced a new career as an entrepreneur.

His company, Emmitt Smith Enterprises, includes real estate, construction, and asset management businesses. And his portfolio just got more attractive.

The three-time Super Bowl Champion recently bought an equity stake in men's grooming company, The Gents Place. He will serve as co-owner alongside its founder and president, Ben Davis.

"From a portfolio standpoint, it aligns because it's still part of a real-estate platform and provides services to the community," Smith told CNBC.

Smith said he started out as a customer of The Gents Place and quickly noticed the company's potential to meet a growing need for men's grooming.

"They provide an outlet to get pampered and walk out feeling like a million bucks," he said.

The Gents Place has big plans to break into the $5 billion men's grooming industry. With four existing clubs in Dallas and Kansas City, the company plans to open 150 franchised locations over the next five years. It currently has more than 2,300 members.

Smith said his role with the company will be to help with franchise growth and bring more awareness to the brand.

The Gents Place
Source: The Gents Place
The Gents Place

The eight-time Pro Bowl player is no stranger to the business world. His real-estate company, EJ Smith Construction, has more than 20 employees and helps build infrastructure, from roads and bridges to hospitals and parking garages. And in the past three years, his real estate and asset management company has grown from 12 to 45 people.

When it comes to taking on a new business, Smith said his main criteria are whether he's passionate about it and whether it makes a difference in the world.

"I look at things that are game changers, things that people may gloss over, or something that's very disruptive," he said.

Smith said he's had many mentors give him business advice over the years, including other sports greats like Roger Staubach and Magic Johnson.

But he said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave him the best advice he's ever received.

"He taught me about finances with a simple statement," Smith said. "He always said, 'Have a big front door and a small back door. Take in as much as you can, and spend as little as you can.'"

Smith also noted that many of the qualities that led him to become the NFL's leading rusher can carry over to business.

"You can't sit back and get happy with a little bit of success," he said. "Have that burning desire to do more. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Keep things fresh."

"That's how you become the all-time leading rusher," he added. "That's how you build a successful organization — make adjustments."

Smith said he's just getting started with his business career, and there's still much more he wants to learn and do.

"I'm excited about what the future holds."