The Definitive Guide to Business with Marcus Lemonis

Marcus Lemonis explains why it's better to be a big fish in a small pond

Marcus Lemonis: Better to be a big fish in a small pond
Marcus Lemonis: Better to be a big fish in a small pond

As an entrepreneur, it can be tempting to launch a business in the biggest market imaginable. After all, even a small sliver of a giant pie is bigger than a large slice of a tiny pie, right?

Well, sometimes there are serious business advantages to being a big fish in a small pond, says Marcus Lemonis, the star of CNBC's "The Profit."

Lemonis, a self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur, got this advice from auto exec Lee Iacocca in the early 2000s. He was working in the car business when Iacocca, a family friend, suggested he go after a smaller market.

Marcus Lemonis
Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images

"He said: 'If you want to be really successful in business, you have to be a big fish. While I think you'll be successful in the car business, it's a very big pond,'" Lemonis recalls. "So he recommended that I go into the RV business because he felt like it was fragmented [and] ripe for consolidation. He was right."

Lemonis went on to become the chairman of Camping World and Good Sam, the market leader for RVs, camping accessories, and RV maintenance and repair. He was featured in RV Business Magazine in 2007 for becoming Newsmaker of the Year and praised for having "more impact on the industry than any single individual or company in recent memory as an agent of change and retail consolidation."

Lemonis' advice echoes a theme in Malcolm Gladwell's book, "David and Goliath," which argues that attending an elite university or working for a top firm may make it harder to excel, since it's more difficult to stand out from the crowd.

"I may not be the biggest fish, but I'm not the smallest guppy," says Lemonis. "So it's really worked out pretty well."