Mark Cuban’s Advice To Entrepreneurs – Risk, Energy, and Funding

According to online dictionaries, an entrepreneur is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money” or “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

Well, I get a check for both of those. My past venture into the fashion industry was fraught with risk and cost me plenty. Now, I have little to show for it, save for a closet full of the most amazing handbags EVER CREATED.

I’m normally a risk-averse person, but somehow, when I’m on a quest to find the formula for success in some endeavor, I throw tons at it – money, energy, time – hoping to find the magical components. The problem is, when you invest in something you really don’t understand, you come up empty more often than not. Knowledge is power, sometimes more so than money, and that’s what struck me with this video from Mark Cuban.

The big takeaways?

Seeking funding for a new business venture is failure. It’s an admission that you can’t hack it on your own, can’t find success with the resources you already have, and need to sell-out in order to plunge forth. The question is, how successful will you really be when you are on the hook for millions of dollars to others who believed enough in your idea that you probably could have rocketed on your own first, albeit a little slower??

I never thought of it that way…

My latest venture is challenging, to say the least. And while I’ve researched the concept itself, I’ve thought many times about how I’ll pitch the idea to investors, how I can get into an accelerator, how I can get the attention of venture capitalists…all so I can command funding and leverage expertise from those who have already found success.

But after watching this video, I realize my mindset needs some fine-tuning. Funding is not necessarily the answer. Preparation is the missing element in my formula. It’s where I fell short with my first business. Not taking enough time to learn about the industry before jumping in, spreading myself and my resources too thin to be even slightly effective, not doing enough research in the form of focus groups prior to designing my products. It was a totally ad hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, throw-lots-of-crap-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks process, with no tried-and-tested repeatable elements. I had no blueprint, no measurable metrics, and no plans for future execution. So, what did I do? Hired a new, more expensive PR firm (which did squat, btw), designed even more products without customer input, spent more money than I could afford…only to land flat on my face with no answers and lots of anguish.

I never acquired the knowledge, though I did amass mountains (now they’re more like hills) of debt as a result. I could have mitigated the risk with a deep understanding of the business landscape, including potential pitfalls and competition elements. But not me! I’m an instant gratification whore, way too impulsive and impatient to waste time on LEARNING, of all things.

To my own peril. I’ve raised many a glass to that toast, regrettably…

So, Mark. Thanks for the advice. Knowledge is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. The more ammo you have, the more prepared you are for battle. And yes, it IS a battle. But winnable if your head is in the right place.

THINK BIG…THEN ACT

Bill Rancic has certainly come a long way from his win on The Apprentice. He was just featured on The Rhode Show to talk about a new campaign he is running with Intuit Quick Books to celebrate the success of small businesses in America, which have accounted for two-third of new jobs created in the United States in the past decade. They’d run a similar campaign a few years back and it was so wildly successful, they’re going to make the deal even sweeter this time around.

Original ‘Apprentice’ Winner Bill Rancic Shares Advice – The Rhode Show

Small business owners will get a chance to compete for a free ad that will be aired during next year’s Super Bowl. Imagine your company being among the ones that paid $4.5 MILLION dollars for their precious 30-second spot. The opportunities that can result from that exposure absolutely boggle my mind.

But they aren’t stopping there. Procuring funding for expansion is always a costly prospect in the form of sky-high interest rates so Intuit is creating a fund to help small businesses finance their longer-term activities as well as bringing together a network of small business experts to share experiences and offer guidance and advice.

There’s MORE!! Bill goes on to share some of his own tips in the video clip below. It’s super-short and worth a watch. He basically has three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • Be Agile – You need to adapt and be flexible and respond to changes in market influences.
  • Don’t Go It Alone – Tap trusted subject matter experts, learn from their mistakes, drink in their advice.
  • Work Hard & Live Lean – Don’t expect a paycheck quickly and learn to do without while you grow your business.

All extremely important messages. I have one more to add to the mix:

  • Do Your Research! – Learn about every facet of your target industry, understand all the nuances, dependencies, challenges, pitfalls. Figure out what the competition does well and come up with ways to do it better. Embrace innovation. Soak up knowledge like you’re a sponge and then apply it to your long-term strategy. These activities will save you a lot of money, aggravation and disappointment. Trust me, I know.

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