It’s close to impossible to predict Mark Cuban’s next move, where he’s going to invest, what he’ll say or the next big idea. One thing we do know for sure is this bold and brash billionaire has a history of startup exits and innovation that has entrepreneurs craving for his algorithm of success. What you’ll find is that his formula compartmentalizes into one word: sales.
At Denver Startup Week we caught up with Mark Cuban and had a blunt talk about his annoyances, the stupid things startups do when pitching for money and the importance of sales.
What is the most important thing you wish you knew before launching your first business?
How much politics played into buying decisions in big companies. I would not have wasted so much time chasing big name accounts.
Talk about the importance of being scrappy as founder.
Business is the most competitive sport there is. If you can't take a hit and rebound you won't survive. No one in your industry is just going to let you take their sales from them. You have to realize it's a never-ending battle.
What are the most important relationships you need to build when starting a company?
The relationship with your employees. They must understand your vision and goals and you need to understand theirs. When you realize how to put your employees in a position to succeed they will help put the company in a position to succeed.
When you hear a pitch from a startup, what are the most important things you look for?
Knowledge. Effort. Wisdom. They have to know their industry, know their customers and understand what it takes to make their customers happy.
What annoys investors more than anything when dealing with early-stage founders?
Trolling for media appearances. Too many see it as a shortcut to sales rather than working to build a strong sales foundation.
Failure sucks, but it’s a part of the startup process. Talk about a time that you failed that helped you grow as an entrepreneur?
So many. One time we had an employee embezzle 82k of the 84k we had in the bank. She literally whites out the payee on our accounts payable checks and the bank cashed them. I haven't seen her since.
We had failed to protect ourselves. We had to regroup, talk to our vendors to work out a payment plan and recover quickly. It motivated me to work not just harder but smarter and not skip administration steps that were important.
What are some of the most common phrases you repeat to startup founders?
Sales cures all
The one thing in life you can control is effort
Nice is a competitive advantage
Learning is a daily requirement
What’s the most important piece of advice you give to anyone starting up?
Sales cures all. No business has ever succeeded without sales.
Read more interviews with tech titans at TechCo
This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Chase.com/forbusiness.
Photo courtesy of Mark Cuban