Mark Cuban shares business advice with Clark Howard

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Consumer Advisor Clark Howard recently sat down with Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks who's also one of the sharks on the ABC show “Shark Tank.”

Cuban says he owns and invests in more than 140 companies, and 71 of them are “Shark Tank” companies.

The 57-year-old made his fortune in computer technology. He told Howard he sold his first company MicroSolutions and retired when he was 29.

“I would tell anybody I was retired after I sold my first company. I bought a lifetime pass on American Airlines,” Cuban said. “My whole mission in life was to go to as many different places as I could, get drunk with as many different people as I could, and have as much fun as I possibly could, and party like a rock star. I was really good at it...It was fun, but you know it didn't have the same juice you know and so eventually I needed something.”

That something was the online video streaming industry. Cuban started the company Audionet, which later became Broadcast.com. In 1999, Broadcast.com sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion.

After the sale, Cuban became one of the youngest NBA owners in history when he bought the Dallas Mavericks. So it’s no surprise he compares the world of business to professional sports. The only difference, he says, is the game of business never ends.

“Business is 24 by 7 by 365 by forever and you're competing with everybody. You know there's some 12-year-old kid that's going to try to kick your butt and there's some 80-year-old guy that's come a long way that's got some idea that's trying to kick your butt and that's what makes it so fun, you know,” Cuban said. “That's what makes it so crazy that you know you've got to stay engaged and you've got to have that energy.”

He doesn’t only apply that philosophy to business, he says people need to market themselves in today’s workplace.

“It's just a different world, but younger kids today are recognizing that whatever talents they develop it's all for sale.Now if they can program all the better, it's easy to get a job. If you've got certain skills it's easy to get a job,” Cuban said. “Nobody looks at a resume like they did 20 years ago and says, ‘You didn't even stay there five years.’ If you stayed there 5 years, it's like, what's wrong with you? You Know? How come you couldn't find a better job? Why aren't you climbing up the ladder? But climbing up the ladder isn't going from employee, to manager, to senior, to VP, to president. It's OK you went from this employer to gain this skill set, you went to this company and gained a new skill set, and you kept on moving forward.”

Cuban says he believes even though many people are down on the future of America, there’s no time like the present to get out there are start a business.

“When people talk about oh it's all going to hell in a hand basket, it's just terrible our kids are going to be worse off. You know from a big-picture perspective it's impossible to predict. You know, could something go terribly wrong? Yeah I guess. But that's the one thing that separates this country from every other one in the world, and if you go and visit anywhere in the world, the one thing you say is what's uniquely American? And they'll tell you the entrepreneurial spirit,” Cuban said.

Cuban says “Shark Tank is proof the American dream is alive and well.”

“When a kid comes up to me, when a 10-year-old comes up to me, and says they're interested in business, I don't say no? I mean there's no better time to start a business than now and in reality, if people are down on starting businesses, it's an even better time to start a competition because there's less competition,” Cuban said.

But he won’t make it easy for anyone when it comes to his investments. More than his money, Cuban values his time. He told Howard he demands his business partners value it as well.

“I want a single-minded focus because if you want my money, not even my money, if you want my time, if you don't think enough about this business for you to just commit and be single-minded and be all in, why would I take some of my time, forget the money, why would I give my time?” Cuban said.

After that, there’s only one thing that Cuban looks for in an investment.

“Sales, and then after sales come sales, and then after sales, which comes after sales, comes sales,” Cuban said. “There's never been a company that succeeded without sales. And if you don't have sales, you don't have a company. And if you're not thinking about sales, if you're not selling 24/7 because that drives everything else, that drives your customer service, you're not going to sell much more if you don't take care of your customers. That drives your thinking all the time about how you're going to improve things, how you're going to do things better for your customers, how you're going to improve your industry and your preempting your competition or beating your competition, all driven by sales, that's the scoreboard and I think a lot of people lose track of that.”