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5 Important Business Lessons For Entrepreneurs From Mark Cuban

5 Important Business Lessons For Entrepreneurs From Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban has a net worth of $3 billion. Most of his wealth has come from two major transactions, but the businessman has continued to enjoy success, whether with the Dallas Mavericks or Shark Tank. Cuban has transitioned from a boy who sold garbage bags to one of the most famous businessmen in the entire world.

Some pooh-pooh Cuban’s success as mere dumb luck in cashing out of the Y2K market early, but luck is when success meets opportunity. There is a lot that any entrepreneur could learn from Cuban’s success, and here are five business tricks which any entrepreneur can use to grasp just a small part of all he has accomplished.

1. Don’t persuade

For many, selling is persuasion. Do a Google search and you’ll find a whole bunch of articles that claim that with a little persuasion trick, a salesman can convince all the people in the world.

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But Cuban knows that selling and persuasion are not the same thing, as he observed that “selling is never about convincing. It is always about helping.” You don’t want to persuade someone your product is awesome. You want to show that the product will fundamentally help them in some way.

If there is any one neat persuasion trick, it is this: put yourself in the shoes of others. That is the basis of any relationship, and that is the basis of salesmanship.

2. Work hard, but smart

Cuban will be the first to tell you that hard work is the key to success. One of his first business moves as a young man was to take advantage of a local newspaper strike. Cuban and his friends drove several hours to Cleveland, bought tons of newspapers, and sold them back in his hometown of Pittsburgh for a good profit.

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But Cuban will tell you that hard work is not about putting a lot of hours in at an office. It is about getting things done. If you sit at a desk for ten hours but accomplish nothing, you might as well have stayed home. In order to work smart, you need to be organized, come to work every day with a plan, and know what needs to be accomplished.

3. Save money

If there is any one single rule which Cuban emphasizes, it is this one. Cuban may be worth a lot of money today, and he grew up in a decently well-off family, but he has known privation. He famously recounts living off ketchup and mustard sandwiches as he worked to reach his current heights.

Cuban was willing to accept this privation because he wanted to get rich, and lot of entrepreneurs will have to endure similar conditions if they wish to get anywhere in life. Get rid of the credit card, don’t eat out, and slash personal expenses as much as possible. Living cheaply isn’t a weekly or monthly thing, but something which can last years until an opportunity finally arrives.

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As Cuban observed, there is no such thing as “getting rich quick.” There is only getting rich, and that takes time and a willingness to sacrifice.

4. Never go into debt

This is similar to the above point, but Cuban believes in this so fervently that it needs to be covered twice. While there is the personal aspect of saving money by staying home, not going out to eat, and investing money where you can, there is also the business end of the deal.

As Cuban told one interviewer, “if you’re starting a business and you take out a loan, you’re a moron.”

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Most businesses can start with very little capital if you put enough effort into it. Think about Apple’s humble beginnings, or how Facebook was set up in a college dorm. If you can put in the effort and have a great idea which will appeal to consumers, then you will be able to get the capital without essentially becoming a puppet of the bank.

5. Listen to your customers’ feedback

People like to talk. And customers like to talk about the products they purchase — especially what went wrong with them. Cuban points out that the fundamental goal of any business is to satisfy their customers, because that is what will lead to growth and then to profits.

Now, there are limits to this. As Henry Ford observed, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Innovation is supposed to be, well, innovative. An innovative businessman should push on ahead with a new product as long as they can show how it will make the customer’s life better in unexpected ways.

But customer feedback is more important than all of the marketing research in the world. If you can ensure that the customer feels respected, then they will respect you. That will open up new opportunities and lead to good things for your business.

Featured photo credit: Danny Bollinger via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2018

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

How to Find a Suitable Professional Mentor

I went through a personal experience that acted as a catalyst for an epiphany. When I got fired from a job, I learned something important about myself and where I was headed with my freelance career. I realized that the most important aspect of that one rather small job was the influence of the company owner. I realized that I wasn’t hurt that the company and I weren’t a perfect match; I was devastated by the stark fact that I needed a mentor and I had almost found one but lost her.

Suddenly, I felt like J.D., the main character in “Scrubs,” chasing Dr. Cox and trying to rip insight and wisdom from someone I respect. The realization that a recognized thought-leader and experienced entrepreneur severed ties with me felt crushing. But, I picked myself back up and thought about five ways to acquire a mentor without having the awkwardness of outright asking.

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1. Remember, a professional mentorship must be mutual.

A professional mentor must agree to engage in a mutual relationship because, as the comedy T.V. series showed us, one simply cannot force someone to tutor us. We have to prove that we are worth the time investment through persistence and dedication to the craft.

2. You have to have common interests with your mentor.

Even if a professional mentor appears at your job or school, realize that unless you and this person have common interests, you won’t find the relationship successful. I’ve been in situations where someone I respected had vastly different ideas about what was important in life or what one should spend his or her free time doing. If these things don’t line up, you may find the relationship won’t be as fruitful, even when the mentor knows a great deal about one industry.

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3. Thought-leaders will respect your passion.

One of the ways you can prove yourself worthy to a professional mentor is through your passion and your dedication. No one wants to spend time grooming and teaching another who will not take advice or put the effort in to improve. When following thought-leaders on Twitter and trying to engage with higher-ups in a work setting, realize that your actions most often speak louder than your words.

4. Before worrying if he respects you, ask if you respect him.

On the other side of the coin, you should seriously reflect on those common interests and make sure you respect your professional mentor. Just because someone holds a title, degree or office does not mean that person is trustworthy or honest. Don’t be swayed by appearances and take the time to find a suitable professional mentor.

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5. Failure is often the best way to learn

I honestly have made more mistakes than I can count. I know I’ve learned a great deal from poorly organized businesses and my own poor choices. The most important quality I’ve developed is an ability to swallow my pride and learn from my mistakes. If life knocks me down nine times, I get back up 10 times. One of the songs Megadeth wrote, “Of Mice and Men,” resonates in my mind when I pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again for a goal I’ve set: “So live your life and live it well. There’s not much left of me to tell. I just got back up each time I fell.” Hopefully, this brief post can act as a professional mentor to you in your quest to find not only a brave leader but also a trusted adviser.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via mrg.bz

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