How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
Love him or hate him, Mark Cuban is a very smart guy, who has made a career out of being outspoken and doing things his way. I read his blog, which is great, and this book is a collection of some of the best. I have highlighted the parts that gave what I thought was the best advice.
"I had to kick myself in the ass and recommit to getting up early, staying up late and consuming everything I possibly could to get an edge. I had to commit to making the effort to be as productive as I possibly could. It meant making sure that every hour of the day that I could contact a customer was selling time, and when customers were sleeping, I was doing things that prepared me to make more sales and to make my company better. And finally, I had to make sure I wasn’t lying to myself about how hard I was working. It would have been easy to judge effort by how many hours a day passed while I was at work. That’s the worst way to measure effort. Effort is measured by setting goals and getting results. What did I need to do to close this account? What did I need to do to win this segment of business? What did I need to do to understand this technology or that business better than anyone? What did I need to do to find an edge? Where does that edge come from, and how was I going to get there? The one requirement for success in our business lives is effort. Either you make the commitment to get results or you don’t.
The thing you do need to do is learn. Learn accounting. Learn finance. Learn statistics. Learn as much as you can about business. Read biographies about businesspeople. You don’t have to focus on one thing, but you have to create a base of knowledge so you are ready when it’s time.
School isn’t the end of the learning process, it’s purely a training ground and beginning.
In my humble opinion, once you have learned how to learn, then you can try as many different things as you can, recognizing that you don’t have to find your destiny at any given age—you just have to be prepared to run with it when you do.R
Of course, there is always a caveat to destiny, and that’s obligation. The greatest obstacle to destiny is debt, both personal and financial.
Never settle. There is no reason to rush. If you aren’t happy with where you are, simplify your life and go out and try as many things as it takes to find what you may be destined to be. If there is such a thing.
In basketball you have to shoot 50 percent. If you make an extra 10 shots per hundred, you are an All-Star. In baseball you have to get a hit 30 percent of the time. If you get an extra 10 hits per hundred at bats, you are on the cover of every magazine, lead off every SportsCenter and make the Hall of Fame. In business, the odds are a little different. You don’t have to break the Mendoza Line (hitting .200). In fact, it doesn’t matter how many times you strike out. In business, to be a success, you only have to be right once. One single time and you are set for life. That’s the beauty of the business world.
The point of all this is that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and from those around you because … All that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.
You said, and I’m paraphrasing: “Everyone has got the will to win; it’s only those with the will to prepare that do win.”
In a lifetime of running businesses I have developed a lot of rules that have been almost infallible. Here are a few of them that I use religiously to this day: 1. Everyone is a genius in a bull market
2. Win the battles you are in before you take on new battles
It’s a huge lesson for entrepreneurs. Win the battles you are in first, then worry about expansion internationally or into new businesses.
3. You can drown in opportunity Few businesses only have one opportunity. Every entrepreneur’s mind goes crazy with the new and exciting things she can do beyond the new and exciting things she is already doing. The risk is that you can drown in all these opportunities.
So let’s start at the beginning. In this post I am only going to provide you with the very first and most important of all the rules for anyone starting a business. Rule #1: Sweat equity is the best startup capital The best businesses in recent entrepreneurial history are those that began with little or no money.
There weren’t 100-page-long business plans. In all of my businesses, I started by putting together spreadsheets of my expenses, which allowed me to calculate how much revenue I needed to break even and keep the lights on in my office and my apartment. I wrote overviews of what I was selling, why I thought the business made sense, an overview of my competition, why my product and/or service would be important to my customers and why they should buy or use it. All of it went down on a piece of yellow paper or in a word processing file, and none of it cost me more than the diet soda I was drinking while I was writing it up. I remember the foundation for each of my businesses.
Once I could put the idea on paper, I gave the company a name. From there, I took the most important step: I tried to find people to shoot holes in the name.
Each inquiry cost me next to nothing to get great feedback. Each enabled me to check the foundation of my business idea to see if it was easy to shoot holes in, and most importantly, they all served as sales calls. Each company eventually became a customer of ours.
There are only two reasonable sources of capital for startup entrepreneurs: your own pocket and your customers’ pockets.
Success is about making your life a special version of unique that fits who you are—not what other people want you to be.
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
It was Aaron Spelling, I believe, who said, “TV is the path of least resistance from complete boredom.” Which is another way of saying that it’s easier to watch TV than to sit there and do nothing. Which describes exactly how people make most of their choices in life. They take the easy way. They take the path of least resistance. There are certain things in life we all have to do. There are certain things in life we choose to do. Then there is everything else. The things we do to kill time. In every case, all things being equal, we choose the path of least resistance. Understanding this concept is key to making good business decisions.
Moral of the story: Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.
The cheaper you can live, the greater your options. Remember that.
5. Start the day motivated with a positive attitude You are going to screw up. We all do. I can’t tell you how many times I did and continue to. It happens too often. But no matter what happens, every morning, the minute after you wipe away the crust from your eyes, remind yourself that you are going to enjoy every minute of the day. You are going to enjoy the twenty interviews you have. You are going to enjoy waiting in the heat for your roommate to pick you up afterward. You are going to enjoy realizing how frayed your collar has become and how sick you are of your one, lonesome tie. You are going to enjoy all the bullshit you have to deal with as you chase your goals and dreams, because you want to remember them all. Each and every experience will serve as motivation and provide great memories when you finally make it all happen. It’s your choice.
Entrepreneurs always need to be reminded that it’s not the job of their customers to know what they don’t. In other words, your customers have a tough enough time doing their jobs. They don’t spend time trying to reinvent their industries or how their jobs are performed.
Instead, part of every entrepreneur’s job is to invent the future. I also call it “kicking your own ass.” Someone is out there looking to put you out of business. Someone is out there who thinks they have a better idea than you have. A better solution than you have. A better or more efficient product than you have. If there is someone out there who can “kick your ass” by doing it better, it’s part of your job as the owner of the company to stay ahead of them and “kick your own ass” before someone else does.
1. Time is more valuable than money You have to learn how to use time wisely and be productive. How wisely you use your time will have far more impact on your life and success than any amount of money.
3. No balls, no babies This is something a blackjack dealer once told me when I asked him if I should hit or stick. It is also my favorite line and probably the thing I tell myself the most. Once you are prepared and you think you have every angle of preparation covered, you have to go for it. No balls, no babies
9. It’s not whether the glass is half empty or half full, it’s who is pouring the water This is one of my favorites. The key in business and success at any endeavor is doing your best to control your destiny. You can’t always do it, but you have to take every opportunity you can to be as prepared as—and ahead of—the competition as you possibly can be. Take the lead, and you can control your own destiny."
How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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