Monday, February 15, 2016

1 Hour with Mark Cuban (Interview): 12 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Mark Cuban ( co-founder, Shark Tank investor, Dallas Mavericks owner and Blog Maverick) opens up about being a famous billionaire entrepreneur, why people succeed or fail in business, and how to stay one step ahead of your competition in this uncensored, 1-hour video interview (Watch it here).


Want the interview highlights? Here are 12 key lessons and quotes from Mark Cuban in this excellent discussion. Future entrepreneurs, take notes!

1. On the difference between being a millionaire and being a billionaire. Mark replies that it is "like having a dollar vs. having a thousand dollars. It's a huge difference. In terms of what you can do [as a billionaire], and the opportunities it can buy, there's no comparison." 

2. Staying accessible. Cuban stays close with his network and is open to meeting new people and hearing new startup pitches and ideas on Cyber Dust (his messaging platform) and via email. These are his preferred communication platforms and they limit the need for time consuming phone calls or in-person meetings.

3. How Mark Cuban got started in business. "I was a hustler early on. I started my first business when I was 12, buying and selling baseball cards and stamps. I'd go out and buy a bunch of baseball cards and sell packs with a guaranteed number of local players in Pittsburgh, where I grew up.". Mark was constantly reading about business and starting new ventures from an early age due to his innate entrepreneurial drive.

4. The #1 reason why people fail? "Lack of brains, lack of effort." Mark says you have to go into your market knowing more than the competition. Most people don't do the work needed to know their industry and their business. Failure to put in the effort required to succeed is a major reason why businesses fail. "The one thing you can control is effort. You have to put yourself in the best position to succeed", especially since there are no guarantees of success.

5. Work ethic. "Work like someone is trying to take it all away from you.". Discipline and focus are required. When Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks, he opened up the phone book and personally called up former season ticket holders to win them back. "You're not going to outwork me", is Mark's attitude.

6. Only the paranoid survive. "I always say, 'What would I do to kick my own ass?' Whatever business you have, there's someone trying to put you out of business. It's better for you to figure out how to do it and anticipate the competition's next moves.". Be aware of what you're good at and what your competitors are good at. Don't dismiss the competition.

7. Ramping up your growth. It really depends on the product or service you are offering. Some companies grow at a slow grind, other services (apps, social media) need to be ubiquitous almost at once. The key, says Cuban, is finding the low-hanging fruit in your business. Which customers are willing to commit and write you a check (revenue) in the earliest phases of your business?. When you get a few more customers who are willing to use your product or service, ask for referrals. Learn from your first customers, then reiterate your product and get the next customer. Growth should accelerate from there.

8. Learn the language of business. Go to college or at least take classes to acquire the knowledge required to succeed in business. That means you have to know accounting, finance, marketing and sales. These are the "language of business", says Mark. Even if you hire people with these skills, you have to be able to communicate with them understand these concepts underlying your business.

9. Saving and investing. How should people grow their wealth and save for their future? Cash in the bank won't grow much with near-zero interest rates. People have lost faith in the stock market over the last 10-15 years, so there needs to be an alternative savings vehicle for retirement now that pensions are in decline. You'll find more from Mark Cuban on investing in our "Related Posts" (scroll down to find more great interviews).

10. Capitalism and government. "I'm a hardcore capitalist. But we've evolved over time to have more government services taking care of people. If we as a society decide that we don't want people dying in the streets or [funding] security, we all have to pay for that. However, I'd rather the government had one half the employees and just write checks to people... and find the best way to pay for these services. The one certainty is that government is too big and too inefficient.".

11. On politics and Donald Trump. Mark offers, "I like Donald and I think he's smart. What's concerning is the way all the candidates, Democrats and Republicans, are trolling for votes." Most things (or 99%) of what candidates say they'll do won't come true. You look for the candidate that has the sense to realize their campaign promises won't work and will still be the best leader once they are elected to office. Of course, Mark Cuban recently suggested that he would do a better job as President (although he's not running for office).

12. What's the one constant of business? "The one constant of business is that it is constantly changing." There is no predetermined formula for success. You have to be a little smarter and better prepared than everybody and you must adapt to changes in your industry.

Related posts:

1. Mark Cuban: "Buy and Hold Investing is a Crock of...".

2. Mark Cuban: How to Get Rich. Success + Motivation.

3. Bloomberg Masters in Business interviews Mark Cuban.

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