Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules For Startups

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When I started my first business at the age of 17, I didn’t think too much about rules. Or anything else except making money. Most people people who jump into doing their own thing, do it on pure excitement, without any kind of a checklist of things to do and not to do.

Over the years, after starting a number of online businesses, I realized the importance of creating rules to adhere to. It infinitely increases the odds of your success.

Here Are Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules For Startups

1. Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.

I started many projects simply chasing the money. These burn you out fast. There’s usually a lot more work that goes into launching a business than you think.

If you don’t have much of an interest in what you’re starting, other than the money, you’ll never put your heart and soul into it. Yet that’s a requirement to create a successful company. You’re simply not going to put in the long hours when there’s little to no payoff initially.

Matt Furey, an internet marketing expert I’ve studied for years, says…

“Find something you love, then figure out a way to make money with it.”

This is one helluva an advice.

2. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.

I think the word obsession has a bad rap among “normal”, non-entrepreneurial people. Yet I haven’t met a single successful entrepreneur who wasn’t obsessed with their business at one point.

Personally I think it’s smart to have an exit strategy. Some people want to build a business and sell it, but that shouldn’t be the driving factor. Because that is not what’s going to keep you “obsessed.”

3. Hire people who you think will love working there.

I know it’s not easy to find people who will work hard at building someone else’s business. Which is why talent, education and skill are only a part of what makes a good team member. I’ve been fortunate to work on a team where everyone loved what we did, and truly put their heart and soul into everything. That passion showed up in everything we’ve done.

4. Sales cure all. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.

At the end of the day, the purpose of the business is to create customers. Sales and profits are what drives the success of the company. It’s great to have “Mission Statements” but without sales you can’t pay your team, you can’t keep the website going, and you certainly can’t put food on the table for your family.

Influx of cash-flow will solve almost every problem you have.

5. Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.

I must admit this is something I’ve struggle with, and at times it still continues to be challenge for me, although not as much as before. I had a hard time of letting go and turning the project over to somebody else. It’s a flaw with many entrepreneurs.

But I remember one time, years ago, I was launching a new online marketing campaign, and was tinkering around with the graphic. (And I ain’t no graphic designer) After wasting about 30 minutes on it, I finally went to a Odesk (now Upwork) and found a freelancer overseas, who for a few bucks did exactly what I wanted.

This was a major turning point for me, because I realized that I don’t have to be good at everything. I can find someone who can do what I can’t (or don’t want to do) and hire them to do the job. While I can focus on doing what I’m good and want to do.

Try it, you’ll never go back to doing everything yourself.

6. An espresso machine? Are you kidding me? Shoot yourself before you spend money on an espresso machine. Coffee is for closers.

Not going to add much to that, because I work from home and have a fancy automatic espresso machine which I love. However, when I spent 10+ years in direct sales, in the financial services industry, where I worked out of a “real” office… yes… coffee should have been for closers. The guy’s walking around the office with coffee mugs, were typically the ones who never wrote any business.

Me? I would a enjoy a Starbucks on my way to or from a client appointment (or sometimes in between.)

7. No offices. Open offices keep everyone in tune with what is going on and keep the energy up.

I have no experience with that, because for the last 10 years I work from home. However I do understand why having that culture in a traditional office environment can be helpful.

8. As far as technology, go with what you know. That is always the cheapest way.

Spending your precious time learning something new will take your focus away from doing the most important things that drive the business.

9. Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers in a startup, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.

I have little experience working for others. I’ve had a number of jobs in my teens and my last one ended at age 22. But I remember how inefficient were those companies where there were layers of management, and the owner (or the president) was completely disassociated from what was happening. Ironically, each one of those companies is gone now.

10. NEVER EVER EVER buy swag.

I never understood companies that buy shirts with their logos on it just to give out. I have seen it work great in network marketing, but that’s because people rally behind a company for promotional reasons. In a more traditional business, your customers will not wear your shirts “just because”. Mark Cuban thinks its a waste of money, and I agree.

11. NEVER EVER EVER hire a PR firm.

There’s little a PR firm can do, that you can’t do yourself. Why not pick up the phone or send an email and make the connections yourself?

12. Make the job fun for employees.

If your team isn’t having fun, they’ll never go above and beyond. They’ll just do enough. And while that seems like the norm in many corporations, if you want to build a thriving business, why not make it fun for everyone?

You’ll get a lot more out of people who show up to work when it’s fun, instead of just because “they have to.”

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Vitaly Grinblat has over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and advertising. Including running his own financial services agency for over 10 years. Since 2005, he has created a number of information products online, as well consulted with and designed advertising campaigns for private clients, generating over $10,000,000 in sales. Currently Vitaly is involved in a number of businesses and projects including creating marketing campaigns for a large publication company, running an e-commerce business, a nutraceutical company and Success Thread.

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