7 Bad Business Practices Mark Cuban Would Quit Now

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Business advice is everywhere. But the power comes when we take lessons from those who've made monumental leaps. It's the people nothing into ultra success. Learn some lessons from Mark Cuban's catapult into entrepreneurial success.

7 Bad Business Practices Mark Cuban Would Quit Now

If you’re alive, you’ve heard of Mark Cuban, tech guru, owner of the Mavericks basketball team and permanent fixture on the hit television show Shark Tank, the place where entrepreneurs pitch to investors in hopes of gaining once-in-a-lifetime expertise and investments.

His net worth is 4.2 billion dollars. Check it here on the Forbes realtime net worth tracker.

Mark Cuban on Becoming a Billionaire

So, what can Mark Cuban, who’s made his fortune in sports and tech, teach us about creative business practices? It turns out, a lot.

I list just 7 below to show how the two are not so different after all. See if his advice applies to your creative business and how you might change your business practices. Number 6 may surprise you.

In the beginning, God said, “Let there be failure.”

Mark’s story is a great one because he’s so relatable to the massive middle class, which includes most of us, right? Plus, his story is still unfolding right this very minute which makes him damn relevant historically speaking because we’re afforded exactly the same things he was afforded when he started out (with the exception of the Internet, which gives us a leg up on him).

You see, it didn’t appear in the beginning (circa 1980’s) that Mark would ever become a billionaire. In fact, Mark made moves that appeared counter productive to billionarism.

Before we get into the 7 bad behaviors, check these failure stats and see if you agree with the key takeaways:

Failure #1 First, Mark skipped his senior year of high school to enroll in college. While taking college courses full-time, Mark decided to open a bar (he wasn’t even of legal drinking age). This venture was shut down immediately after he mistakenly allowed a 16 year old to enter and win a wet t-shirt contest.

Key takeaway: Pay attention to the details that matter most to the success of your business (legality, for one).

Failure #2 After that, he put all his money into starting a business going door-to-door selling powdered milk. If you guessed this one failed too, you’re right.

Key takeaway: Always test your market before going all in.

Failure #3 Another time early in his career he trusted his business financials — all of them — banking deposits, withdrawals and accounting to an employee who, under no direct supervision, embezzled $85,000 dollars which promptly put him out of business AGAIN.

Key takeaway: Checks and balances, checks and balances, checks and balances. Know and track ALL parts of your business.

As you can see, Mark learned a lot, but I shared these to show he’s real. And that you can apply his principles even if your business isn’t tech or sports, even if you don’t want to become a billionaire.

So, how do these lessons relate to you and creative entrepreneurship? Let’s look a little deeper.

Mark says it wasn’t so much his brains and definitely not his organizational skills that got him to where he is today. In fact, what he did is possible to copy without clout, money, education or even support.

From Zero to Mavericks

How did a middle class, middle child fail so much and get where he is today, investor, advisor, owner of the Mavericks?

According to Mark, he became successful for two main reasons:

  1. He took every failure and used it as a genuine tool for learning.
  2. He never stopped getting back up and starting again (even when he looked stupid).

Sound easy? It is. On paper.

In actuality, it’ll take some serious chutzpah, but you can surely do it.

You may even have a better transition into success than he did.

Ramping Up

Read this next sentence twice….

Mark never saw his failures as a reflection of his future potential.

His failures never kept him down. He wasn’t afraid to fail again and again and again. He just kept on moving forward quickly, learning, falling down and getting back up. And, according to him, that’s what created a winner. Period. Here’s a quote by JayZ that sums it up nicely.

“The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” JayZ

The list of successful people who’ve used the same recipe for success — failure isn’t an option — is endless. But it’s the lessons in Mark’s messy story that I find so doable for me and you.

Failures are challenges. Use them as a beacon to show you what NOT to do.

Now, let’s dive in.

By the way, these insights were taken from Mark’s book, How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, and I’ve applied them so you can boost your creative business practices right no

7 Bad Biz Moves


Business Practices

Are you thinking of your art or talent as a legitimate business?

According to Mark, what you bring to the universe should be used to enhance your life (monetarily, spiritually, altruistically, and so on…).

This works well for artists. Your talent, your gift is unique to you and is valuable (which requires a whole different discussion to determine that). This alone gives you a unique advantage over mass-produced products.

Simply put, because of your originality, your work becomes a commodity to be traded for money. You’ll have to do the work to determine the value, but nevertheless, the value is the means to the business.

There are some artists whose goals are not monetary. Their view on capitalism as it relates to their art form may be counterintuitive to growing a profitable business with art as the medium for growth.

For those on the fence, I’d like to suggest that thinking of your art as a business doesn’t demean its significance. Collectors of extremely high end works label their valuation in dollars. The terms of their assets on paper are translated into money which becomes the business of personal finance.

Whether you create rarely or often, high end or other, to view your creations from a business perspective (as well as a spiritual, aesthetic, historical one, etc..) is essential on the whole to continuing your craft and its legacy.

It may require a shift for more than a few artists who feel uncomfortable with it. So, if that’s you, then perhaps taking time to view it from another angle will bring some enlightenment.

Try thinking of it this way. By exchanging your talent for profit, you’re able to fund future creation and growth. That kind of profitability is empowering and freeing. It allows you to distribute more of your talent with fewer constraints.

Increased profits puts you in the position to drive up quality. You gain the advantage because you have the option to increase the time you can allot to your work. Meanwhile, there is decreasing pressure to make more within shorter time periods.

In short, business profitability affords you the luxury of time, quality and quantity.

The end result is a more robust art business.


Business Practices - #2 You are overextended

Have you gone into debt to fund your business?

Mark is clear on this one. He’s against entrepreneurs having debt.

He says debt comes in two forms: money and people.

The message here is to stay debt free at all cost. He’s 100% convinced that debt keeps us from reaching our dreams quickly, and for some, at all.

Sleep on a couch in a shared apartment if necessary. Meet clients or customers at a restaurant or other shared spaces for appointments, shows or events. Overall, never overextend yourself for ANY REASON. Acquiring debt forces your hands to be tied.

Use free or inexpensive methods to show yourself or your work. Then as your income increases, rent, buy or hire to fit your budget. Whatever you do, keep from owing anyone if it’s possible and get where you want to be 10 to 100x faster.


business practices - #3 You don't study

Have you quit studying (your competition)?

As I said earlier, your work is unique so it can feel at times that you have no real direct competition. However, consider this huge warning from Mark’s book.

Having a unique product or talent definitely sets you apart, but competition comes in many forms. It isn’t always a straight across trade.

Here’s an example:

You create beautiful mosaic garden benches, bird baths, and such. You see only a few artists online whose work is similar to your style and no one locally like you. So, you decide it’s best to keep your head down and work on.

But then sales decline.

While you weren’t paying attention, a new artist nearby started making copper garden ware that’s quite popular. In addition, lapis blue is all the craze this Spring at nearby department store garden centers.

If you had been paying attention then you may have decided to incorporate those into your work, or even better, divert away from trends altogether and market something completely new for the season.

Whatever you do, look up, look around. Be ready for your competition WHEN they come, not IF.


business practices - #4 You're too nice to yourself

Are you your own best friend?

If so, there’s a lot wrong with that according to Mark. The reason? We tend to lie to ourselves. Now, I’ll be honest. I was not in agreement with this one at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized we can tend to nurse our ego and tell ourselves what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.

I get it that sometimes we really DO need to be our own best friend, and I also know some of you may be saying, “Heck, I’m not my own best friend at all. I’m my own worst enemy!”. And that’s true too. We can be cruel to ourselves as well, but even worse for BUSINESS SAKE is when we’re too nice.

Instead, enlist a business friend who can pick you up from time to time. Lean on them when your chipped ego needs repair, but don’t befriend yourself in the business sense. You may end up telling yourself things like:

  • you’ve done more than you need to,
  • people’s criticisms are wrong,
  • your judgment is always on point,
  • your work has more to offer than people can see

Just say no to being your own best (business) friend. Instead, keep it real. Keep it honest. And tap into a business buddy if you need warm fuzzies.


business practices - #5 You're too comfortable

How comfortable are you?

Effort is the great equalizer, but comfort is deadly.

According to Mark, once you’re aware of who your competition is ask yourself, “What do I need to do (relentlessly) to understand them better than anyone else?”

By learning everything you can about them, you gain much more than simple insight. You’ll not only see what’s working, but also what’s not. This opens up avenues for you to swoop in and conquer.

There are two things to do here:

  1. First, learn where they’re lacking and take the reins. If their options are limited, meet the needs that they aren’t. If their online presence isn’t up to par, make sure you outshine. If their customer service is so-so, swoop in and dominate by going the extra mile for your buyers.
  2. Second, learn where they’re killing it and copy. If their shows are highly attended, document and follow the processes they use to market, advertise, and present. Find out who their connections are. Draw up a plan to model what’s working and go for it.

Overall, study, study, study. Keep your eye on the other guy and you’ll come out ahead.


business practices - #6 You take on new opportunities

Have you been lured to take on any new, shiny things?

This one came as a surprise. How can taking on a new opportunity be bad? I thought I knew where Mark was going with this one, but I had a rebuttal ready.

Here’s his explanation.

We can easily drown in opportunities. They’re everywhere. At no time in history has it been easier to nurture, learn and execute on ideas and ventures. But being able to do all the things, even in less time, is NOT beneficial.

Never in history has someone been able to teach a class to students halfway around the world, learn a new skill from YouTube, and set up an e-commerce store all in one afternoon.

It’s just extremely easy for us to do whatever we want.

But it’s bad practice.

Instead, Mark says to stay focused on mastering your core competency.

Look at how you can strengthen your offerings, and not at taking on new shiny ideas. Those will only weaken your hold on your current market and diminish your unique offer.

View this type of intense focus as an investment.

Put on blinders.

Say no to people.

Monitor your time browsing the net.

Stay the course.

The result will be expertise and expertise has a funny way of putting you on top.


business practices - #7 You're a one-person opperation

Are you flying solo?

It’s stating the obvious to say no one can do everything. But, no one can do everything. You’re no exception.

All the tasks that need doing only take you away from your craft. That’s why it’s imperative that some be delegated.

Do the following in this order:

  1. Make a list of all the tasks keeping you from focusing on your core competency.
  2. Highlight everything that can be done by someone else.
  3. Put them in order of what’s most worth your money (and within your budget).
  4. Delegate and automate with online tools, software and/or people to get it all done.

Now that you’ve taken care of that, allot a specific slot of time for the labor-intensive tasks you have to do yourself each day. Stick tightly to your schedule. And always keep going back to your core competencies.

Overall, I hope you weren’t guilty of too many of these bad behaviors. But if you were, take on the challenge to practice better art business today.

How would you use Mark’s advice? What would you add?


Want some more great reads on building creative business?


Paula M. Soito
Paula M. Soito

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Paula Soito Arts Row Founder/CEO

She is the founder and CEO of Arts Row, Inc. and and an international arts industry writer for Art Market Magazine distributed to Barnes & Noble and universities worldwide.

Paula was recognized as a “top 100 entrepreneur” for Mastermind.com and awarded the partner Impact Award by Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi and Russell Brunson. 


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