An American billionaire entrepreneur, Mark Cuban is also a media proprietor and a television personality. According to the 2020 Forbes 400 list, Mark has an estimated net worth of $4.3 billion and is ranked at number 177 in the world. He is chairman of AXS TV, owns the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team, and also co-owns 2929 Entertainment. Mark is also known for being one of the main investors on Shark Tank, the ABC’s reality TV series.
Mark took his first step into business when he was only 12years old. He desperately wanted a pair of expensive basketball shoes and paid for it by selling garbage bags. Several years later, he earned money by selling coins and stamps. When Mark was 16, staff at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went on strike and he used the opportunity to make money by running newspapers from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.
Below are some rules that Mark believes have given him the edge to become highly successful.
Now Is the Time
Mark believes that any time is the perfect time to start a business and that there is no such thing as a bad time.
He adds that you’ll know when it’s time if you do the preparation and if you do the work. Although that does however not mean that it won’t be scary, you’ll know when the time is right.
If you don’t feel very comfortable yet, you can start working on your business at night without quitting your daytime job.
When you find something that works for you and decide that this is what you want to do, the Internet nowadays will give you all the information and the choices in the world to enable you to go out there and do your own thing. The availability of the Internet makes it so much easier to start your own business.
Mark says that he has always been passionate. This passion that he has always had for being an entrepreneur and for business has ultimately transferred into the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team which he owns.
Although some people felt that Mark’s passion was more OCD than anything else, he thinks that having passion is a great characteristic for any entrepreneur.
In the early days, while he was still at school, Mark was involved in a stamp business.
Even though he had to get up and go to school every day, he would stay up until three or four o’clock in the morning reading ‘Scott’s Stamp Journals’ and ‘Linn’s Stamp News’ to get himself an edge. He even went so far as to memorize them all.
While Mark was at college, he would spend a massive amount of time in the library reading as many business books as he could. He also looked for business biographies and simply read everything and anything he could about business.
When Mark started Micro Solutions he did not have any money, and he would work through many a night using borrowed computers to teach himself software and how to program.
Don’t Make Excuses
Mark says that if you have a dream, you should just go after it. The thing about being an entrepreneur is that it is ultimately just all you.
Many people always make excuses about why they can’t start their own business. They’ll say things like, ‘I don’t have money, I don’t have connections, I don’t have this, or I don’t have that.’ Mark says that if you find something that you love to do or like to do, you have to forget about the excuses and find ways to be great at it and do everything you can to turn it into a business. In the best case, you will be able to turn it into a business, and in the worst case, you’ll still have a lot of fun doing what you love to do.
Mark is not a big fan of excuses. He believes that everybody has at some stage the opportunity to simply go for it. They just have to forget about their excuses and take some action to make it happen.
Learn from History
Mark has come across many startups and companies that come up with an idea, and then the first thing they do is Google it. If they then don’t find what they’re looking for on the first two pages, they think their idea is original. This is a big mistake.
You’ve got to go back because over the past 15 years there have been so many different businesses that have tried and failed.
These startups have to go back and dig a lot deeper to find companies that have tried this “new” idea and learn from those companies. You have to learn from history and you have to understand all the implications.
According to Mark, the best advice he can give anybody, even before talking to or emailing with them, is that they have to find the history of people who have already tried their idea.
There’s a better than 99.99% chance that the idea has already been tried before.
Mark adds that this is not necessarily a good reason not to start with that idea, as you may be able to outperform them, but before you try, you have to learn from the history of the idea so determine if and how you can improve what has been done before to make it successful.
Mark has always enjoyed the competitive side of the business. As he is in the sports business as one of his many ventures, he’ll talk to his players and tell them that although they compete for 48 minutes and work on their game independently for a few hours and practice a few hours, the ultimate sport is business. In business, you always compete with everybody. You also have to do it 24/7 for 365 days per year and there will always be somebody out there that will try to take you out of the game and do better.
There will always be somebody who looks at your business and thinks that have a better idea and can do the business better. You have to not only compete with those people all the time, but at the same time, you have to keep your employees and customers happy.
The competitive side in any entrepreneur drives them and for Mark that carries over into the Mavericks. He always wants to compete and he wants to win.
Know Your Business
Most small businesses can be started with just about no capital, but it requires a massive amount of effort. According to Mark, small businesses don’t fail because they don’t have the capital. They fail for lack of effort and lack of brains. Most people are simply not willing to put in the time to work smart.
In a lot of cases, they go for it, but they simply don’t realize how much work is involved.
If you have done the preparations and start your own business, you had better know and understand the industry and your startup better than anyone in the world, because you’ll be competing fiercely. You will be very naive to think that whoever it is that you will be competing with is simply going to roll over and allow you to come in and take away their business.
Most people don’t fully recognize how naïve that way of thinking is. Mark says that if anybody is going to compete with him and one of his businesses, they had better realize that he will be working 24 hours per day to prevent them from taking away what is his.
Be Brutally Honest with Yourself
In Mark’s experience, he has found that all startups lie to themselves over and over again. They will firmly believe that their product or service is faster, cheaper, better, or beats the competition in some way or another. This is never likely to be the case. Your competitors are likely not ignoring you. Nor are they saying that just because there is a new kid on the block that seems to be doing well they will simply give up and close their doors.
They will be watching every move you make and if you’re successful and start taking some of their market share, they’ll start copying what you’re doing. This will force you to up your game to stay ahead. As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be very careful to be brutally honest with yourself. Your competition knows what you know, but also knows what you don’t know. The only way to beat them is to know your business better than anybody, and that includes all its weaknesses.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
According to Mark, one of the most important things in business is to know your strengths and weaknesses, but also to know what you enjoy doing. If you see your business as a job, you have already lost. If your business is not your passion, you are going to count the hours you have to work at it, and that will simply not be enough. If you do something that you love to do, and you also know what your strengths are, you will be able to leverage your strengths not only in your business but also by helping others. Once you understand what your weaknesses are, you can start working with other people that complement you to create a stronger team.
Mark refers to himself as a slob and described himself as a big picture thinker. He tries to determine how he can change this industry, and what changes technology will make to things.
This means that he has to make sure that there’s always someone available to dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and keep him in the baselines. With every one of Mark’s businesses, he has always had a partner who was incredibly anal and a perfectionist.
For Mark, recognizing your strengths and core competencies is just as important as recognizing your weaknesses and having a passion to do whatever you do.
To become successful, you have to be both unique and differentiated. You have got to know what your core competencies are and then be great at them. Mark believes that people don’t often realize that a company has to have a defining feature and that they have to be the best in the world at that. Irrespective of the industry you find yourself in, and if you don’t know more about that industry than anybody else, whichever other people in the world that know more are going to be better than you and beat you at the game.
Mark tells a story that he once worked for a company called Your Business Software. The company sold software and he knew nothing about software. He only took one computer class and had to cheat to pass.
At that stage, technology and computers were new. Mark figured that as technology was so new, nobody else had a head start on him because it changed so fast. He reckoned that if he simply put in the time he could easily learn as much as anybody else. He would stay up late reading software manuals and taught himself different programming languages. The job was however at a retail store.
One of Mark’s responsibilities was to come in first and open the store, and then wipe down the windows and sweep the floor. At one time, he had a customer who wanted Mark to visit him to close a deal. The deal was worth $15,000 deal and Mark’s commission would have been $1,500. Mark my boss but the boss said he couldn’t meet the customer as he had to open the store. As the commission would mean a lot to Mark, he decided to get the check anyway.
He thought that if he did that and handed this huge check to the boss, he would be forgiven. He however misread the situation totally and was fired on the spot. Mark is still very indignant when he talks about that story.
This experience however confirmed something that he already knew deep down inside. He was a sh** employee and it would be much better if he started on his own.