The Definitive Guide to Business

Mark Cuban shares his 3-step formula for success 

Mark Cuban
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Mark Cuban

As billionaire Mark Cuban will tell you, there is no set road map for success.

"I don't think there's a default template for success," Cuban, who hit billionaire status after he sold his second company at age 40, says in a video interview with the entrepreneur-focused YouTube channel Valuetainment.

That said, there are certain things you can do to put yourself in the "best position to succeed," he notes. Below, we unpack Cuban's three-step formula for finding success:

1. Understand your skill set

Contrary to conventional career advice, Cuban warns against following your passion. “I used to be passionate about being a professional basketball player. Then I realized I had a seven-inch vertical," the Mavericks owner says in an Amazon insights for Entrepreneurs video series.

Instead, Cuban recommends finding something that you’re good at and then focusing your time and effort on developing that skill set. That’s precisely what Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates did while attending Lakeside School.The world’s second richest person was first introduced to computers in high school, where he quickly realized he was skilled at using the technology.

Gates taught other students computer skills, digitized his school’s class schedule and even hacked the scheduling system to be placed in all-girls classes.

Understanding his skill set allowed Gates to eventually build a hugely successful company, and he said as much in a 2005 speech at his former high school. “One reason I'm so grateful to Lakeside,” said the business magnate, “ is that I can directly trace the founding of Microsoft back to my earliest days here.”

Gates became a billionaire at age 32, roughly 15 years after he graduated from Lakeside, making him the youngest self-made billionaire at the time.

2. Find the right industry

Where you put your skills to use is just as important as the skills themselves, says Cuban. The billionaire recalls going to a competition where attendees shared the business plans they thought would make them a fortune.

One idea that was proposed was reselling travel plans and making $3 in affiliate commissions. Cuban says he knew right away that plan wouldn’t make anyone wealthy. “It’s just not going to happen,” he says. “You have to be smart."

The billionaire uses himself as an example. One of his first jobs out of college was in technology. Though Cuban admits that he cheated his way through the only computer class he ever took, the entrepreneur soon realized that he had a knack for programming.

He put his skills to good use and joined the tech industry. He first launched a software company that sold for $6 million in 1990. Five years later, he co-created the online streaming audio service Broadcast.com, which Yahoo acquired in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock.

3. Go for it

Success takes hard work, which means that have to put in the effort, says Cuban.

With so much competition, he explains, you must be willing to outwork everyone else in your industry and know the business inside and out.

When Cuban first entered the tech sector, he was pretty green compared to others. However, the entrepreneur had one saving grace: He enjoyed learning. “I was always the guy reading about business all the time,” Cuban tells Valuetainment.

Even after staking his claim in the industry, the billionaire made sure that he was always up-to-date on new software and devices — a habit he retains to this day. By grinding harder than his competitors, Cuban notes, he was able to achieve repeat successes.

“If you outwork everybody, if you try to be a little smarter than everybody, if you try to be a better salesperson than everybody, if you try to be better prepared than everybody, you've got your best chance,” says Cuban. He adds that if you don't heed this advice, failure is almost certain.

“Work like someone’s spending 24 hours to take it all away from you,” the billionaire cautions. “That’s kinda the way I look at it.”

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