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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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