If you watch the show Shark Tank, then you know Mark Cuban as a tough, self-made billionaire. He is the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a business mastermind that uses his experience as an entrepreneur to invest in the up and coming.
Cuban has a rich history as a business tycoon. With no technical background, he started by building a small technology startup. He found success by outhustling his competitors.
He remained vigilant by attacking the edges: he read for hours a day, even going through the manuals each of his products.
After seven years of on the grind, he sold MicroSolutions and took with him invaluable insights that he would later use to propel himself to the top of the business world.
HOW TO WIN IN BUSINESS
Cuban found that learning is the most critical aspect of owning and running a business. Outworking the competition comes down to learning as much as you can, taking ideas from a variety of sources, and taking note of crucial failures and successes.
I can get an advantage in any technology business. Of course my wife hates that I read more than three hours almost every day, but it gives me a level of comfort and confidence in my businesses. At MicroSolutions it gave me a huge advantage. A guy with minimal computer background could compete with far more experienced guys just because he put in the time to learn all he could.”
Most people won’t put in the time to get a knowledge advantage, which leaves the door open for all who are willing.
Cuban is obsessed with this edge in business. It is what made him into the ultra-competitor, business magnate that he has become. He approaches business like a sport and the champions of sport often abide by a set of guiding principles.
The Edge, according to Cuban:
…is about getting so pumped about an idea or project that you work 24 hours straight without noticing.
…working to become the smartest guy in the room, willing to learn whatever you need to get there.
…is knowing that you can fail and learn from it.
…is knowing that people will think you are crazy and they are right, but you don’t care.
…is knowing how to decompress a couple of times a week in order to refocus.
…is treating people right along the way and surrounding yourself with the right kind of people to keep you balanced.
…is being able to confidently call someone out on a business issue because you have done your homework.
…is recognizing when you are wrong and working harder to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
…is being able to drill down to identify issues and problems and to solve them before anyone else exploits them.
…is not talking about the “will to win,” instead you are preparing yourself to compete so that you will be successful.
Everyone has the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win. – Bobby Knight
Most of his insights came while pioneering MicroSolutions. It was during a time when technology companies were either making it big or losing big.
People were routinely buying new computers with every small jump in power and capacity, creating a proving ground for companies that were willing to innovate and change.
Two lessons, according to Cuban:
LESSON #1: ask yourself how someone can put you out of business. How can someone else do a better job selling, creating, or making what you do? It is always better to anticipate where the problems will come from. (Kodak comes to mind but there are many, many others that failed this lesson)
LESSON #2: always run your business like you are competing with the biggest companies in your industry. For Cuban, it meant facing off with Google, Facebook, and Microsoft every day. If you are ready to compete with the big guys, you are ready to compete with anyone else.
When it comes to starting a company, Cuban is an obvious authority.
Brick by brick, build your business around these 12 Rules:
1. Don’t start a company unless it is an obsession or something you love.
2. It is not an obsession if you have an exit strategy.
3. Hire people who you think will love working there.
4. Sales are the cure-all. Know how you will money and how you will actually make sales.
5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. Pay up for people that align with your core competencies. Outside of these core competencies, hire cheaper people that fit your culture.
6. Get people to love their jobs and they find ways to spend as much of their time as possible doing it.
7. No offices. Keep spaces open to keep in tune with what is going and to keep the energy up. There is nothing private in a startup. Empire builders will pollute and destroy your company.
8. Go with what you know when it comes to technology. Apple or Microsoft? Use what you know and allow your people to do the same.
9. Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you will fail. Beyond a startup, it creates politics.
10. Never ever, ever buy swag.
11. Never ever, ever hire a PR firm. Do it yourself. Whenever you consume any information related to your field, get the email of the person publishing it and send them a message introducing yourself and the company. Be a source for them, if you are smart, they will use you.
12. Make the job fun for employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them.
These insights came from his book How to Win at the Sport of Business, which you can get using this Amazon link.