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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 January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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