Mark Cuban doesn’t do things small. From “Shark Tank” to the NBA, Cuban’s involvement almost always raises the stakes. For this reason, the smartest companies in the world are employing the Marc Cuban strategy for hyper growth.
When the hotshot dot-com billionaire bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000, the coaches of the struggling team thought they’d played their last game. Fortunately for them, that wasn’t the case. Cuban showed up in a T-shirt and jeans, retained the entire staff and began throwing cash at players left and right. More than anything else, Cuban wanted to win — and win big.
His tenacity paid off. The Mavs made the NBA Finals for the first time in 2006. In 2011, the team finally won the big one against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Cuban, as usual, took a struggling organization and transformed it into a winner.
Most entrepreneurs don’t run NBA teams, but they all share the same hunger for success. Mark Cuban remains one of the iconic heroes of entrepreneurship, living proof that anyone with the right strategy and a bit of luck can make the big leagues.
Since his rise to the top, Cuban has shared plenty of advice on how to succeed in business. Some of his advice is aimed more at executives at Fortune 100 companies than startup founders, but these tips can help founders of even the smallest companies achieve great things.
1. Sales drive business, and help drives sales.
In his interview for Amazon’s Insights for Entrepreneurs, Mark Cuban provided three tips for aspiring businesspeople. Two of those three tips were about sales.
Cuban claims that no company in history has ever succeeded without selling its product or service. In a world where user acquisition has become a hot topic, Cuban remains steadfast in his advice: Selling comes first. Everything else can wait.
He doesn’t recommend that entrepreneurs beat their targets into submission, though. On the contrary, Cuban (like many eminent sales gurus today) believes that the best salespeople know how to solve problems.
“Selling is not convincing,” Cuban said in his interview. “Selling is helping.”
2. Research everything, and plan for the unknown.
“I avoid investing in industries I don’t know,” said Cuban.
That doesn’t mean the billionaire refuses to get involved in new niches, though. Rather, it means he thoroughly researches every new opportunity before he makes a commitment — and continues to research the market long after his initial investment.
Entrepreneurs invest in themselves and their businesses every day. To make that investment a smart one, Cuban recommends ongoing research to identify trends in the market and prepare for shifts before the competition does. Business plans should not extend so far into the future that they can’t adapt when sudden changes alter the industry landscape.
3. Focus on results, not hours.
Hard work is great, but results are greater. In his book “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It,” Cuban argues that measurable results are far more important than hours worked.
Late nights are wastes of effort if those nights don’t translate into improved KPIs. The Mark Cuban strategy argues that entrepreneurs should devote as much effort as they can toward tasks that move the financial needle and delegate (or eliminate) the rest. That way, founders can spend the early days of their companies focusing on the tasks carrying the most significance.
4. Make lots of friends.
Mark Cuban and Zappos founder Tony Hsieh agree on one important thing: Relationships are vital. They also agree that entrepreneurs should create as many relationships as possible without entering into those relationships with an agenda.
People, especially wealthy investors and business leaders, know how to spot hungry founders who are more interested in their wallets than their friendship. Every person has a unique lesson to teach, so entrepreneurs can’t afford to focus only on the big shots. Cuban and Hsieh both say that many of their most beneficial business relationships came from unexpected places. Founders looking to build robust, helpful networks should keep their ears and minds open to people from all walks of life.
Founders constantly struggle to unlock the mysteries of success. Mark Cuban has already walked that path and come back with a wealth of knowledge for anyone willing to listen. Entrepreneurs can learn lessons the hard way if they want, but Cuban has advice for them, too: “Figure out how to kick your own ass before someone else does it for you.”
Renzo Costarella is an entrepreneur, avid learner, and startup enthusiast currently living in Silicon Valley. He consults for several startups in the Bay Area and is pursuing a few ideas of his own.