Mark Cuban is a billionaire — more than three times over, according to Forbes — and a star of ABC’s hit reality television show, “Shark Tank.” He’s become an icon of entrepreneurship.
One of the reasons Cuban’s narrative is so inspiring to entrepreneurs is that he achieved extraordinary success having come from a humble background.
“I grew up in a working class family,” Cuban said in an interview on”Shark Tank.” His father installed upholstery in cars and his mom worked a rotation of odd jobs. “People thought I might go work at a mill. My mom wanted me to learn how to lay carpet because she was concerned about my future.
“Nobody had high hopes for me,” Cuban said. “But I was a hustler.”
Indeed, Cuban resold baseball cards, stamps and coins as a kid to make money. He went on to graduate from Indiana University in 1981 and after quitting or being fired from three jobs, Cuban decided to start his own company.
He launched a systems integration computer company, MicroSolutions, which he sold to CompuServe in 1990. He went on to launch the Internet streaming company AudioNet, which became Broadcast.net, which he and his co-founder sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in April 2000.
Cuban went on to buy the Dallas Mavericks basketball team in 2000 for $285 million. At the time, people gawked at his purchase. “Everybody said, ‘You are an idiot because the Mavs suck and that was the largest price ever paid for any sports team ever.’ I was like, ‘I don’t care,'” Cuban said. “It was just a dream come true.” In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship.
As part of the Amazon Insights for Entrepreneurs series, in which the e-commerce behemoth collects the best advice for managing a growing business, Cuban shares his entrepreneurial wisdom, describing the following as “some quick and dirty rules that every entrepreneur needs to be aware of.”
1. Sales come first
No matter what your business, you have to be a salesperson.
“Number one: Sales cures all. There has never been a company in the history of companies that has ever succeeded without sales. Anybody who has ever told you, ‘Don’t worry about sales you can grow it and worry about sales later,’ they are lying to you.
“They will fail, you will fail. You have to be able to sell and do you know who the biggest salesperson in your company has to be? You.”
“DO YOU KNOW WHO THE BIGGEST SALESPERSON IN YOUR COMPANY HAS TO BE? YOU.”
2. Selling is helping
“Number two: Selling is not convincing. Selling is helping,” says Cuban.
The secret to being a great salesperson is getting to know your customer’s needs and problems and providing them a solution.
“The whole concept of being a great salesperson is not about who can talk the fastest — even though I am talking kinda fast — it’s not about who can talk the most nonsense, it’s about taking the time to understand the needs of the person you are selling to.
“Because if you can’t create a benefit for them, if you can’t show them why your product is going to be better for them and their life than the other options out there or what they were doing before, you are not going to have a company.”
3. Don’t lie to yourself
Even though you have faith in your business, people aren’t going to buy from you automatically. You have to be honest with yourself both about your strengths and your weaknesses.
“All entrepreneurs lie to themselves. We all go through the same process. We tell ourselves, ‘This is the best, everybody loves us, no one is going to not like product.’ Of course that is not true. What I like to tell people is, ‘when you have a company, when you are an entrepreneur, you have to figure out how to kick your own a– before someone else does it for you.
“You have to look at your own company and be brutally honest with yourself and say, ‘What do we do well?’ That’s great. But also be honest and say, ‘What do we not do well? Where are our challenges? And then how can we improve them?'”