Startup Advice from a Shark Investor – Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban aboard his 40 Million USD Gulfstream Jet with a Cigar Trophy
Image Courtesy, Twitter @mcuban

If you’re in the startup and innovation industry and you do not know who Mark Cuban is, then you need to get a clue.

Mark Cuban is a 54 year old business, investing and philanthropy guru whose first job was a bartender in Dallas Texas. He then was hired as a computer sales man as was fired less than a year later into the job. That last sentence is for those of you who seem to have lost hope. One of the greatest was once fired. There is light at the end of the tunnel. He also featured on Shark Tank as a Shark. So you’ve gotta listen.

Mark sold his company, to Yahoo in 1999 for almost 5.9 Billion US Dollars which even back then was a heck of a lot of money. Mark also owns a basketball team; the Dallas Mavericks. He also bought a Gulfstream Jet in ’99. It was worth 40 Million US Dollars.

He recently came out with some tips on how to run StartUps on Business Insider and how to do it without running into snarl ups, well atleast most snarl ups anyway. Here are the tips mildly adopted from BI and some of the stuff I think Mark would say given an oppotunity:

Should my StartUp hire a PR firm? – Never! Face to face connection with your customers and media will always give you more leverage. You cannot trade in a direct relationship for anything else.

As a StartUp, should I bother with my competition – Cuban reckons that you don’t need to really know that much about your competition. All you need to do is hope that they suck at what they’re doing.

To what do I need to be Worrying about customer service – Know and respect your customer. They are the reason you exist. Fail your customer and you are committing your business to failure.

What to do when others are chosen over you in a position/contract you feel you should have been awarded? – It’s not about money or connections. It is more about the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone. It this fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time. The first one sums it up well. As soon as you make it about the money, you will fail your business.

Are there advantages of making life ‘fun’ for employees when they work for me? It is always important to make employees feel appreciated. It could be as simple as handing out money to staff when someone closes a huge account. Have a boss’ tab so guys can take shots at the local bar when there’s a reason to celebrate. Even have the vendors cover the tab. Treat employees well. Appreciate them.

Should I follow my Passion – According to Mark, NO! This is the single worst piece of advice you can ever get. Everyone is passionate about something. Always try and find bigger problems you want to address. When you consider all those things you are passionate about in life, you realize you cannot follow all of them because they sometimes lead to dead ends. Better advice would be to find bigger problems and find an intelligent way to address them.

Do you believe in overnight successes and success stories? – when you work for 20+ years and then one day you finally make your break, everyone will call you an overnight success.

What kind of company should a random person start? – start a company with going concern. Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy sometime after starting the company, then you do not have an obsession. Don’t do it.

Should a StartUp have a set of private offices for staff in different grades? – It is always advisable to maintain an open-door strategy for most interaction. It is easier to know what is going on with your managers when there’s open-door policy.

How about dreaming? Dreaming is okay. Dreaming is good. But you know what’s even better? Doing something about that dreaming. Ideas are not mutually exclusive. The faster you work on yours, the faster you can cash in on it and make some money.

Find Mark Cuban on Twitter as @mcuban.

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