Shark Tank star Mark Cuban has been a startup investor and serial entrepreneur since his teenage years selling garbage bags, creating chain letters, offering dance lessons, and even running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh during a strike of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Cuban is ranked #177 on the Forbes 400 list for 2020 with an estimated $4.3B in net worth.
Anyone who has listened to Mark knows that he has a lot to say and has very strong opinions on many topics. My goal here is to summarize how to be successful in business, especially for entrepreneurs in the startup arena. I’ve distilled Mark’s approach down to 7 key factors.
Passion is at the core of everything in business, especially a startup business. Our passion will dictate the energy we bring to our work and will transmit our excitement to prospective customers, vendors, and partners.
- “Love what you do or don’t do it.”
The ideal time is now, according to Mark Cuban. You need to always be moving forward in a tangible way to achieve your business and startup goals. You’ll always have doubts and the world will always put doubters in your path to throw up obstacles, to hurt your confidence, and to smother your passion. Don’t let them stop you, and don’t let changing circumstances keep you from doing it now (see “Now’s the Time to Get Your Business Funded: Coronavirus Edition”).
- “Always wake up with a smile knowing that today you are going to have fun accomplishing what others are too afraid to do.”
Dictionary.com defines bold as “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger…courageous and daring…beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” For a startup to be successful, an entrepreneur must be bold but not blind. They must have a clear understanding of what they are doing and why as well as what they’re strengths and weaknesses are. You really aren’t bold or courageous if you don’t recognize the challenges or dangers that you need to overcome to succeed. See my recent article on being bold in getting investor funding (“How Far Will You Go to Get Your Business Funded?”).
- “It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed. You only have to be right once.”
Knowing the business, the market, the players, the customers and their sentiments are all essential to being prepared to succeed in a startup business. Whether you need to convince Angels or PE/VC investors to fund your business or you are bootstrapping it, you need to know what it will take to win. Without this knowledge you have almost no chance to succeed. By the way, as your business grows and the market changes, you need to continually upgrade your knowledge to improve what you do and how you do it.
- “Because if you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there.”
Entrepreneurs who lie to themselves about their products, services, competitors, customers, and market conditions aren’t going to be in business very long. Don’t just make assumptions but deal in facts. If you’ve already formed assumptions, work hard to validate or invalidate them so you can prepare a genuine SWOT analysis. This will help you launch the business and bring the right product to market at the proper place and price with the proper message.
- “One problem people have is that they lie to themselves…rarely is talent enough. You have to find ways to make yourself standout. You do so by playing to your strengths and making people aware of those strengths.”
Every startup entrepreneur wants to believe that their product or service has never been done before, but the ones who proceed with that mindset are inviting peril. Be a student of history. One of the first things you learn is that humankind doesn’t learn from history because we keep repeating the same mistakes. Humility will make you realize that somebody somewhere has probably tried this before. Do your research…and not just a quick Google search. Find out who tried and how they failed. Use their experience to learn the hard lessons without suffering the personal setbacks.
- “One thing we can all control is effort. Put in the time to become an expert in whatever you’re doing.”
While your product or service may not be completely new, you need to make at least one aspect of it your own. Consider what characteristics you bring to the product, to how or to whom it is marketed, or how it is delivered to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you try to be the same, you have no basis other than price on which to compete, and someone newer and cheaper can easily come along to take your market away from you.
- “Creating opportunities means looking where others are not.”
- “When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?”
- “Success is about making your life a special version of unique that fits who you are – not what other people want you to be.”
If you aggressively pursue these 7 areas, your chances of startup success increase dramatically. What are you waiting for? As Mark Cuban says, the perfect time is now.
To learn more on how to stand out with an epic fundraising story, contact Ines at [email protected]. You find her on LinkedIn Profile at www.linkedin.com/in/ineslebow or her ETS website at www.transformationsolutions.pro.